One of the most common questions clients have for an attorney after an injury is, “How much is my claim worth?” While there is no simple answer to this question, there are some common factors used to determine how much you may receive after an accident or injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
When considering how much your accident or injury claim is worth, there are several factors an insurance company will consider before they offer you a settlement. Most injury cases start with settlement negotiations, and then if those fail, end with a trial.
When considering a settlement, the first thing an insurance company will consider is the relative fault of each person. In a case where an accident or injury is clearly the fault of one person, the initial settlement offer will be higher than a case where both people share some degree of blame.
The next important consideration is nature and extent of your injuries, and the amount of your medical bills. An injury which causes lasting or permanent damage will be compensated more than an injury which causes some pain for a month or two but then heals. The nature and extent of the injuries will also be reflected in your medical bills—serious injuries are more likely to incur lengthy hospital stays or multiple surgeries.
Next, an insurance company will add in economic damages like lost wages or property damage. If your car was totaled, or you were out of work for several weeks, these expenses will also be considered in the initial settlement offer.
Finally, the insurance company will consider the intangibles, such as how much a jury may like a defendant or plaintiff. If you are particularly sympathetic, and an insurance company believes that a jury may empathize with you, you will often be offered more money in your settlement than those people who are less congenial.
How an Insurance Company Values a Case
Often, an insurance company will use a person’s medical expenses as a barometer for the appropriate amount of damages for pain and suffering in a settlement offer. The insurance company will use the factors listed above to choose a multiplier, and will multiply a person’s medical damages by a number between 1.5 and 10 to determine an appropriate settlement. Most insurance companies will never use a multiplier above 5 except in the case of severe, catastrophic injuries.
For example, if a person has medical expenses of $10,000, and the injuries were relatively minor, the insurance company may choose to use the 1.5 multiplier and offer around $15,000 as a settlement. In other cases, where the medical expenses are higher and the injured person is particularly sympathetic, the medical expenses could be multiplied by a much greater factor.
While not every insurance company uses this formula, and while every case is different, this formula generally provides a good idea of the starting point for negotiations. The amount of your initial settlement offer could be higher or lower depending on the strength of your case, and the final amount offered will change as your attorney negotiates. If an acceptable settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may decide that it would be better to take your case to trial.
Don’t Settle For Less
After an injury, your medical bills and treatment records are the most important part of making sure that you are compensated fairly. In order to get the best settlement offer, you will need to establish a clear record of treatment that accurately documents your injuries, your pain, and your future treatment needs.
When your case relies on accurate medical records and analyses, you need an attorney who understands both the law and the medicine. At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., our dedicated medical and legal staff will evaluate your injury and your medical case history, and can help you protect your rights. Bradley I. Kramer is both a medical doctor and an attorney, and has the unique expertise you need on your side to fight for adequate compensation after an accident or injury.
For a free consultation, contact us by calling (310) 289-2600 and speak with an experienced Los Angeles injury attorney today.