Whether you have a shoulder injury, knee injury, broken leg, brain hemorrhage, or any other injury from an accident, you might be wondering, how much is my personal injury case worth to settle?
It’s difficult but not impossible for you to estimate what your injury is worth. Your personal injury attorney should review with you how the determination is being made so you understand and can come to your own conclusion, hopefully in agreement with your personal injury lawyer.
The value of a personal injury case depends on the following:
- Hundreds of facts,
- To whom the value is being considered (to you, your personal injury lawyer, the insurance claim representative, the insurance lawyer, the insurance company, a jury, or an appellate court), and
- At what point in the timeline of a personal injury case (settlement of a personal injury claim before filing a lawsuit, settlement after filing a lawsuit, before trial, during the trial, or after the trial)?
Settlement vs. Trial
Settlements are based upon what both sides, you, your personal injury attorney, and the insurance company, think will happen at trial.
Thus, even if your case doesn’t go to trial, a settlement offer will reflect what the insurance company thinks will happen at trial. The amount you will accept reflects what you and your attorney think a jury will award you at trial.
Factors That Determine What an Injury is Worth
There are many factors that determine what an injury is worth, including whether you are partially at fault; the county where your case is; your age, and many other factors.
You Are Entitled to Money Even if You Were Partially at Fault
In New York, if a jury finds that you were 70% at fault for causing the accident you are entitled to 30% of the compensation a jury gives you for your injury.
We settled personal injury cases for the entire insurance policy when we got the insurance company to agree that their client was 5% at fault. We settled for the entire $25,000 insurance policy in one case, when our client admitted to a police officer that he ran a stop sign and we settled for the entire $100,000 insurance policy in another case when our client ran a red light.
This means that if you have a knee injury with arthroscopic surgery, you were 50% at fault, and the defendant has only a $100,000 insurance policy, you could get $100,000 because $100,000 is less than 50% of the value of your knee surgery. See below for what a knee injury can be worth.
If you were 70% at fault and your leg was amputated in an accident with a defendant who has $1,500,000 insurance, the insurance company should pay the entire $1,500,000 insurance policy because a leg amputation is worth at least $8,000,000.
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The County Where Your Case Is Effects Settlement Value
The county makes a difference in the settlement value or verdict value for your injury because jurors in some counties award more money than juries in other counties.
For Instance, jurors in The Bronx and Brooklyn award more money than juries in Suffolk, Nassau, or Westchester.
Your Age Determines How Much Your Injury and Personal Injury Case Is Worth
If your case goes to trial, the jury will decide approximately how long you will live, and you will receive a set amount of money for past and future pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
If you are 30 years old, you will receive 45 more years of future damages than if you are 75 years old.
How We Determine the Value of an Injury
We consider our history of settlements for similar injuries, but we also research jury verdicts and verdict amounts permitted after an appeal on the legal research service Westlaw.
What Would You Pay to Never Have Been Injured?
Insurance companies never think injuries are as serious as they are, but we understand that they are far more serious. See a list of injuries that are serious. We also consider what your injury would mean to us if we had that injury and how your injuries will affect you when you get older.
If I could pay money to return a back injury to its pre-accident status, I would pay $20 million or even more if I had it to get rid of my back injury. Unfortunately, juries don’t award $20 million for soft tissue back injuries. although a quadriplegic injury could be worth as much as $50 million. But it is worth thinking of the injury in a personal sense before asking the jury for money.
When you suffer from an injury, other people don’t really understand what it means to you. What would you give up or pay to undo your injury?
Triple Crown winner, jockey Victor Espinoza broke his neck in a horse race. He was unable to move or feel his legs and was nearly paralyzed but two weeks later began to regain movement of his legs.
In a CBS TV interview, he was asked, “Was it more exciting to you to win the Triple Crown or to feel your legs?” He said, “It was fun winning the Triple Crown but to have my legs back, that was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
He may be getting better now, but it will get much worse later in life. How will his injury affect him when he gets older? How will your injury affect you when you get older?
You might have an injury that requires surgery or an injury that does not require surgery. Often, your injury is more valuable if you have surgery but not necessarily.
Before I started my law practice, my stepmother was injured in a car accident when her car was struck by a car carrier/tow truck that ran a red light. She injured her knee and shoulder and never had surgery. When she was 70 years old, her injuries became debilitating. Now, at 80, she is almost totally disabled because of those injuries.
My father worked full-time until he was 93, but my stepmother will likely need to go to a nursing home because she was injured in a car accident decades earlier.
What Can a Knee Injury Be Worth?
We obtained a jury verdict in Nassau County Supreme Court of $465,000 for our client who was offered only $10,000 by GEICO when he injured his knee with a meniscus tear which required arthroscopic surgery which is considered minor surgery.
Nassau County and Suffolk County are not the better counties to have a case in. The best counties are Brooklyn and Bronx.
What Can a Back Injury Be Worth?
We obtained a $750,000 settlement for a woman who had lower back surgery even though she had 10 years of prior (before her car accident) medical treatment with her orthopedic surgeon.
What Can a Neck Injury Be Worth?
We obtained a $1,000,000 settlement for a woman who had neck surgery even though she had prior neck surgery before her accident.
Phil Franckel is well-known in New York and has been a personal injury lawyer since 1989. He is a Founding Partner of 1-800-HURT-911, LLP®, the Personal Injury Dream Team™, and a former Member Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He has an Avvo Top 10 Rating, Avvo Client’s Choice Award with all 5-star reviews, Avvo Top Contributor Award, Multi-Million Dollar Trial Lawyers Award, and others. See Mr. Franckel’s bio for areas of expertise.
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.
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