Q: How do you come up with a dollar amount for a personal injury case?
A: You don't... overwhelming most cases filed in Court never succeed in getting a recovery with the pro-insurance system in place in Texas. Ask your lawyer IF you have a case. Then depending on the case type, a general rule of thumb MAY be the looking at amount of damages, lost work, impairments, medical treatment costs and future medical. Many auto cases are simply getting only a few hundred dollars in settlement offers unless there is an attorney. Then, ask the Attorney to evaluate the specific matter. If it has gone on this long, I hope you got it solved already !!
Generally, there are three factors that attorneys use to evaluate a personal injury claim. They are, liability, damages and ability to pay.
the first analysis is always liability because if you do not get past liability the analysis stops. In effect, the plaintiff or injured person has the burden to prove that the other person was negligent and cause them harm. In Texas, the person or entity that caused the harm must be at least 51% at fault for causing the accident in order for liability to stick for the personal injury. An attorney will look at the facts of the accident from an objective perspective to determine what the other person did wrong and the odds of winning a lawsuit on liability.
For non-attorneys, a good place to start on liability is the one sentence rule – state what the other person did wrong in one sentence.
Personal injury damages include such things as medical expenses and lost wages and also such things as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and inability to do certain things in the past and future. Attorneys frequently look at the medical records and sometimes confer with the medical providers to obtain their opinions regarding the injury and assessment of the victim. The burden of proof to prove damages rests on the injured person and usually medical provider testimony is necessary for a personal injury claim.
It is important to remember that the persons who would decide the damages would be an impartial jury who do not have a dog in the hunt and do not really want to be sitting in court as opposed to attending to their own personal lives.
Ability to pay
This is generally the amount of insurance available to satisfy the claim. If it is an auto accident Texas requires a minimum of $30,000 liability coverage and many people have "full coverage" on their own auto policy which can add to the total of insurance available. Of course, many commercial vehicles and corporations maintain a very large insurance policies that protect them against personal injury claims.
In Texas, it is extremely difficult, if not almost impossible to collect from an individual above their insurance policy. There are exceptions of course but 99% of the time the ability to pay is the insurance coverage available from all sources.
The more serious the injury the more likely it is that a personal injury lawyer will be necessary for the case. Very serious injuries almost certainly will require an attorney to handle in order to maximize the potential recovery to the client. Most attorneys offer a free consultation and personal injury victims should consider taking advantage of a consultation if they are considering handling a personal injury claim on their own.
A: This is the ultimate question.... No matter what you read on the Internet or hear from your buddies, there is no magic formula to determine the value of a personal injury case. The best answer is: "As much as your lawyer can get!" Hundreds of factors are used in negotiations. Negotiating a claim is as much an art as it is a science. I encourage you to seek qualified counsel who can help evaluate your case.
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