How Lawyers Calculate the Value of a Personal Injury Claim
When you have been hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, your only or immediate concern may be about how you will pay for the medical care you need, or how you will get full and fair reimbursement for any lost wages or income. When an attorney looks at your case, though, he or she will typically consider all the potential costs, as well as other factors, and will customarily come up with an approximate dollar value that you should expect to recover. How does their calculation work?
Assessing the Value of a Personal Injury Case
The first step in determining the potential value of a personal injury claim is to look at all the potential losses. Lawyers tend to categorize damages as either general damages or specific damages. Specific damages, as the name implies, are losses that can be attributed to a tangible number, such as lost wages or medical expenses. With respect to lost wages, you can document, usually to the penny, how much money you have lost because of your inability to work. The same is generally true for past medical expenses. If it is clear that you may not be able to work for some appreciable time into the future (or perhaps never again), you are entitled to damages for lost future wages, but those damages must be reduced to their present value.
General damages, on the other hand, are those for which a specific dollar amount is difficult or impossible to ascertain, such as damages for mental suffering or for physical pain and suffering. Most lawyers base their assessment of potential general damages on their prior experience, as well as reports of the types of awards that juries have given in similar cases. Your attorney will likely give you a range within which you can expect your case to fall based on similar claims. If the court issues a verdict that falls substantially outside of that range, the chances are good that such a damage award will be increased or decreased on appeal.
In most states, the concept of comparative negligence will have an impact on the final award. This doctrine holds that if the injured person contributed in some way to his own injury, the damage award should be reduced accordingly. So, for example, if you had lost wages and medical expenses of $100,000, but the jury determines that you were 25 percent at fault for your injury, you will only recover $75,000.
If it takes some time for your case to get to trial, you can also expect to recover interest on the damage award. An award of attorney fees and court costs is also possible in some jurisdictions.
Contact The Pryor Law Firm
The Pryor Law Firm maintains offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Nassau County. We handle personal injury cases exclusively on a contingency fee basis (meaning you pay no fee unless we recover compensation for you), and we can visit you or your loved one at home or at a hospital if travel is too difficult. To contact us for confidential advice following a serious injury or fatal accident, submit our online contact form or call 212-222-8444 in Manhattan, 718-773-1700 in Brooklyn or 516-741-8100 in Nassau County.
Firm founder Kenneth A. Pryor is a member of the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Mr. Pryor is an experienced trial lawyer who teaches trial skills as an adjunct law school professor. Our firm can provide the knowledgeable and experienced legal representation you need.