How Do I Know What My Case is Worth? What Factors go into Determining That?
Without a doubt, before we get into any of the other factors, the number one factor to keep in mind are the automobile insurance policy limits of the defendant driver and also on your policy. For all practical purposes, the insurance policy limits are just that—they are the limits of the amount of money that you are likely to be able to obtain on your claim. The exception is going to be where you have a commercial defendant, such as a trucking company. Besides the fact that these companies typically carry in excess of $1 million in coverage, you may also have access to the substantial assets of the company, in the event the coverage is insufficient.
After that, probably the number two item that affects the value of your claim is you. No matter what kind of attorney you have, if you are someone who is not credible and believable, or are willing to make the effort to follow your attorney’s advice to make the best possible presentation in the event you need to go to court, there is little that your attorney can do to change that. Are you someone that a potential jury would be happy to award money to compensate them for their injuries? Do you have a credible work history that has been impacted by the injuries you suffered in collision? Have you ever been convicted of a felony, or other crime involving lying, cheating, or stealing? If so, this may, unfortunately, negatively impact your credibility and the value of your claim.
The third item that affects the value of your claim is the reputation and preparation of your claim by your attorney. If your attorney has no track record of litigation of cases or successes against insurance companies, then it is unlikely that the defendants insurance company is going to pay an amount that is reasonable in terms of settlement short of going to court. If, on the other hand your injury lawyer has had a great deal of experience in dealing with insurance companies and litigating claims against them, and has properly prepared your demand package, it is much more likely that you are going to receive a fair settlement offer on your claim, without the necessity of proceeding to court.
Other than the insurance limits, your own personal credibility, and the effectiveness and reputation of your attorney, the other typical factors that go into determining what any particular case is worth are really too numerous to mention here; however, here are just a few: whether the other driver was clearly at fault; the severity of the impact to your vehicle or the vehicle you were riding in; available evidence of the severity of that impact; the severity of your injuries, i.e. did you have any broken bones?; did you require surgery?; how long was your recovery?; do you have permanent injuries? are you going to require additional medical procedures due to your injuries from the collision, and what is the potential cost of those procedures?; do you have lost wages as a result of the collision and can you clearly document those losses?; and, do you have permanent work restrictions as a result of your injuries from the collision?