The biggest myth on how to value your personal injury accident case is to calculate 3 times the special damages. Special damages are your medical bills and lost wages. Nothing could be further from the truth. You could almost call this fake news about personal injury cases.
Many accident injury victims want to know what their case is worth and how can they settle it. They google this phrase and come up with a lot of misinformation. The temptation is to buy one of those self help books. Let's examine what they really have to offer. The reality is that they can not take the place of an experienced personal injury lawyer, and in fact cost you more.
Most of them end up saying if your case is really serious hire a personal injury lawyer. One site states/advertises this misinformation: "Get the exclusive base formula that calulates your pain and suffering."
One book says that where the services of a lawyer or other professional is called for, such advice should be sought accordingly. In fact it specifically states: "...if your medical diagnosis includes bone fractures, a herniated disk, serious aggravation of a pre-existing condition, prenatal difficulties, or almost anything diagnosed to be more complicated than a "soft tissue" type of injury, it's not wise for you to handle your claim yourself. You should engage an attorney to represent you." That's a direct quote from the advertisement for the book!
Multiple of Specials Calculation Disinformation
In part here is what the book said in further detail.
"To determine accident settlement vlaue, you add these elements of damage together . . .
- Medical bills.
- Lost income.
- Pain and suffering damages.
The insurance company may challenge the amount of medical bills and lost income that you claim. The much more difficult question to answer is, "how much are you entitled to recover for your pain and suffering? One common method of estimating the unknown - pain and suffering damages - is to multiply the known - the out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills and lost income -- times an arbitrary multiple. They use somewhere between 1 and 4 times."
Again I say there is no such thing as a multiplier. What if your leg was amputated in the emergency room and your medical bills were $50,000. What multiplier is even close to the damages you deserve. There is none. There are a multitude of factors that drive value, but a multiplier is not one of them. The amateurs trying to sell books keep pumping out this garbage.
Here is another one of their examples. "If you received a neck injury in your car accident, incurred medical bills of $2,500 and missed a week of work, which cost you $1,000, your "specials" are $3,500. Depending on the other facts in the case, the accident settlement value of your claim is somewhere between $5,250 (1 1/2 times specials) and $14,000 (4 times specials)" If you tell this to the insurance adjuster they will laugh at you.
Recently I had a chance as a mediator in a car accident injuryy case for the Hamilton County Court of Common Please I spoke with a Progressive Insurance claims adjustor. She stated they have statistics that show that settlements average 1.8 times the special damages. ( medical bills and lost wages.)
Some Real World Factors That Drive Injury Claim Settlement Value
Whether there are any aggravating circumstances in the accident, such as drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs can influence settlement.. If there are aggravating circumstances damages will be higher. The seriousness of your injuries. is key. Obviously, more serious injuries demand more compensation than less serious ones.
For example, broken bones are considered more serious than soft tissue injuries. (My experience, however, is that soft tissue injuries (sprains and strains) can be quite serious, causing significant long term problems. Don't let insurance adjusters scoff that you "only have soft tissue injuries" if there is nothing "objective" about your injuries.)
How long your recovery took is an important factor.. For example, a 6 month recuperation normally entitles you to more than a 2 month recovery.
Whether you recovered completely is important. If you will have permanent consequences, you are entitled to more. In fact, if you have a permanent injury of any significance, I recommend that you consult with a car accident lawyer about your case.
A Per Diem Approach is the Best
How many days did they suffer and will they suffer in the future. You were given a job. A job you did not want. You job was to endure pain and limit your activities.
One author recommends that you use $3,000 per month as compensation while your injuries were being treated. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2006, this was the approximate median income for U.S. males. Your reasoning, therefore, is that dealing with pain from your injury while it was acute was at least as difficult as doing the average job in this country.
Another way of using a per diem approach is to use your actual income figures as a measure of damages for the time you were in active treatment, reasoning that dealing with your injury was at least as difficult as the job that you normally do. I prefer this method of determining accident settlement value for several reasons.
First, it gives you a reasonable answer to the question "how did you get that figure for pain and suffering?" Second, it is a method of valuation that you can use if your case goes to court. In court, the multiplier approach is not formally recognized. You can not stand in front of a judge or jury and tell them you want 3 times your special damages. At least judges and juries are not supposed to calculate damages that way. Instead, they are supposed to award the amount that they decide is reasonable, fair and adequate for each component of damages -- medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life.
Therefore, you can use this system to explain to a judge or jury what you claim and why you claim that amount. I submit this last method is worthwhile to explore. It ties your injury to something tangeable. One more thing. The jury better like you and you better not seem greedy or a whiner. You won't recover much if that's the case. Human nature prevails.
by Cincinnati car accident injury lawyer Anthony Castelli Call For a Free no Obligation evaluation of your case 513-621-2345
Law Office of Anthony D. Castelli
8170 Corproate Park Drive #220
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
Further Reading on Calculation of Personal Injury Damages