How Much Is My Case Worth? A Personal Injury Calculator
One of the first questions asked by all personal injury clients, and rightfully so, is how much is my case worth? This is a question that is nearly impossible to answer, particularly at the onset of our representation. There is no predetermined amount or formula that defendants and insurance companies use in personal injury cases before agreeing to settlements. Juries are also not given specific mathematical formulas to use when deliberating regarding a damages award.
Additionally, without a crystal ball it is impossible to know how much your case is worth during the initial consultation because we do not know at the beginning how bad your injuries will be, how much treatment you will have and whether you will incur any expenses for medical bills and/or lost wages, among other things. It is for this reason that we never answer this question upon being retained because it would essentially be a wild guess. However, when you hire one of our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers to represent you following your car accident, slip and fall or other accident case, we will thoroughly explain to you the types of damages that are recoverable in your particular case in much the same way as a judge would explain it to a jury assigned to hear your case. This is because ultimately, if your case doesn’t settle, it may be up to a jury to decide how much compensation to allow for your injuries.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the types of damages that your personal injury lawyer can ask a jury to award.
You can Recover for: Past Medical Expenses
If you have incurred medical expenses as a result of your injury, we can ask a jury to reimburse you all medical expenses incurred, regardless of whether they were paid for by your health insurance company, whether you paid the bills yourself, or whether the bills remain unpaid at the time of the trial. You should, however, be aware that if your health insurance company paid the bills, your health insurance company will have what is known as a lien, which is another way of saying that they are entitled to be reimbursed for the amount they paid out. Car accident cases are an exception to this rule. In car accident cases, your lawyer may not ask a jury to reimburse you for past medical expenses that were paid for by your auto insurance company, and your car insurance company therefore does not have a right to ask you to pay it back for money that it paid out.
You can be Compensated for: Future Medical Expenses
In some instances, when the time comes to try to settle your personal injury case, or your case is called to trial, you may not be done treating for your injuries. This may be because you have not yet reached maximum medical improvement, or, alternatively, your injuries may be permanent and may require treatment and medications into the indefinite future. Your doctor may believe that you are in need of surgery down the road. In these types of cases, in addition to recovering compensation to cover past medical expenses incurred, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit may also seek compensation for anticipated future medical expenses resulting from your injuries. In order to recover for anticipated future medical expenses your personal injury lawyer would need to present evidence, typically in the form of testimony from a doctor or medical expert, detailing the type of treatment required, the frequency and the cost of such treatment. Such testimony must be given within a reasonable degree of medical certainty. In truly catastrophic injury cases and cases where there are multiple treating physicians with different specialties, we will often engage the services of a life care planner, who will coordinate with all of the doctors and come up with a plan and offer testimony regarding your future treatment needs and the costs associated therewith.
You can be Reimbursed for: Past Wage Loss
If you have missed time from work due to your personal injuries, you are entitled to recover for the wage loss you have suffered at the time of trial or settlement. This would also include the value of any fringe benefits associated with your prior employment that you have lost, such as health insurance benefits, retirement contributions and pension benefits. Oftentimes a personal injury lawyer may engage the services of a vocational and/or economic expert to testify regarding the value of the lost wages and fringe benefits in addition to testimony from a medical expert establishing that you were unable to work due to your injuries.
You may Seek Compensation for: Future Wage Loss
If you are out of work at the time of settlement or trial and are expected to suffer a wage loss in the future due to your injuries, your personal injury lawyer can ask for compensation for your expected future wage loss. Once again, expert testimony would be required in the form of vocational and/or an economic expert. In these instances, we are seeking compensation for your loss in earning capacity into the future. Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers will have you meet with a vocational expert, who will review your work history and also obtain information from your treating physicians regarding your ability to work in the future and any work restrictions you might have. The vocational expert will then prepare a report, taking into account many additional factors, that will summarize the anticipated wage loss you will experience in the future as a result of your injuries.
You may Receive Money for: Your Pain and Suffering
When a car accident, slip and fall or other personal injury results in pain, you are entitled to be compensated for past, present and future physical and mental pain and suffering. Pennsylvania law allows recovery for physical pain, mental anguish, suffering, mental anxiety, shock, fright, discomfort, disfigurement, embarrassment, humiliation, inconvenience, depression, emotional distress, loss of well-being, the inability to perform household chores and the inability to care for one’s family. In fact, the jury in a personal injury lawsuit is given a specific instruction at the end of the case regarding the categories of non-economic damages like pain and suffering that the plaintiff may recover. The jury instructions provide that there are four items that make up a damage award for noneconomic loss, both past and future. The four items identified in the jury instructions are: (1) pain and suffering; (2) embarrassment and humiliation; (3) loss of ability to enjoy the pleasures of life; and (4) disfigurement.
The jury instructions further provide that in considering a Plaintiff’s claim for past and future noneconomic loss the jury should consider:
- The age of the Plaintiff
- The severity of the injuries
- Whether the injuries are temporary or permanent
- The extent to which the injuries affect the ability of the Plaintiff to perform basic activities of daily living and other activities in which the Plaintiff previously engaged
- The duration and nature of medical treatment
- The duration and extent of the physical pain and mental anguish which the Plaintiff has experienced in the past and will experience in the future
- The health and physical condition of the Plaintiff prior to the injuries; and
in case of disfigurement, the nature of the disfigurement and the consequences for the Plaintiff.
When you hire one of our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers to represent you following your car accident, slip and fall or other accident case, we will thoroughly explain to you the types of damages that are recoverable in your particular case.
As noted above, there is no formula or science behind an award for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages described in the standard jury instructions. However, an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer will know best how to present your case and evidence relating to the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of your injuries so that you are adequately compensated by the jury or insurance company. Early consultation with a personal injury lawyer is essential following a car accident or other personal injury, as your personal injury attorney will provide instructions to you regarding how to best keep track of your pain level, activities missed and other things that will help in the event of a trial. Your attorney will also identify any individuals who may be able to testify regarding their observations of you following your accident.
In certain cases your personal injury lawyer may also be able to recover the following types of damages:
You May Ask a Jury to Award: Punitive Damages
In the most egregious of cases, a personal injury lawyer may ask the judge to instruct the jury regarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for conduct that is deemed outrageous and to deter him and others like him from similar misconduct.
Your Spouse May Bring a Claim for: Loss of Consortium
Under Pennsylvania law, a spouse possesses the right to pursue a claim for loss of consortium as a result of injuries sustained by the other spouse. Compensation is available for whatever aid, assistance, comfort and society one spouse would be expected to render or bestow upon the other under the circumstances in a condition in which they may be placed. This type of a claim is a separate claim brought by the uninjured spouse. A consortium claim is predicated upon the loss of the spouse’s affection and services after the injury. The amount to be awarded is left up to the jury-there is no magic formula controlling how much such an award should be.
You can Seek Reimbursement for: Property Damage Incurred
If you sustain property damage, say as a result of your car accident, you are entitled to recover for the damage to your vehicle or property upon proving that the other party was negligent, provided of course that your damages were not already paid for by your own insurance company.
Contact one of our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation regarding your case to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.