One of the most common questions asked by someone who was seriously injured in an accident is: How much is my personal injury case worth?
The answer is – it depends.
No lawyer can tell you the exact amount you can expect to receive if you file a personal injury claim from a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle wreck, etc. Your lawyer can give you a rough, ballpark estimate of what is reasonable to expect from a financial recovery, but that may change depending on the specific facts of your case.
Damages Play a Major Role in The Valuation of Your Claim
In most personal injury cases, you can pursue financial restitution for economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the amount you had to pay for your medical treatment and the amount of income you lost as a result of the collision due to time missed from work.
Non-economic damages are those more intangible harms such as missing out on big family events, school events, helping around the house, waking up in the middle of the night with terrible headaches or backaches, etc.
As you can see, the more severe your injuries are, the more likely it is you will wind up receiving a substantial amount via a settlement or jury verdict.
Available Insurance Coverage is Key
In addition to your economic and non-economic damages, the amount of money you can reasonably expect to receive from a personal injury claim will be influenced by the amount of available automobile insurance coverage. This includes the liability coverage in the defendant’s insurance policy and any available uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage available through your own insurance policy.
The Amount You Can Expect to Receive
If a settlement or jury verdict is obtained on your behalf, it is important to understand that you will probably not receive the full amount of the settlement or jury award. This is because a portion of the total will be deducted for attorneys’ fees and expenses and any medical liens related to your treatment after the accident.
The amount owed to your Colorado Springs personal injury lawyer should be relatively simple to figure out. Why? Because when you hire an attorney, they will walk you through a contingent fee agreement. This agreement spells out the fact that you will not have to pay anything up front for the lawyer’s services, but if and when a financial recovery is obtained, the lawyer will receive a percentage of the total. In most personal injury cases, the contingent fee ranges between 33 percent and 40 percent.
So, for example, if your lawyer obtains a $100,000 settlement in your car accident case, their fee will be $33,000. In addition to the attorney’s fee, there is the issue of case expenses. The amount that may need to be paid to cover these expenses depends on the particular facts of your case. In a typical auto accident case, the expenses may be less than $100.
If you were injured by a doctor and are filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the case expenses could wind up being in excess of $100,000 due to the need to retain medical experts. No matter the amount of expense, your lawyer will provide you with a clear, detailed, and transparent itemization of the expenses related to the litigation of your case.
In addition to attorneys’ fees and case expenses, any outstanding medical bills or liens will affect the amount you receive at the conclusion of your case. This is because, especially in the case of medical liens, you are contractually obligated to pay those liens off at the time your personal injury case is resolved.
You may be thinking, “what if a jury only awards me a small sum of money that is insufficient to cover my bills and liens?” Great question. If you find yourself in this situation, your attorney will work to negotiate a reduced amount that will need to be paid back to the doctor’s office. In most instances, they will accept a reduced lien rather than not receive any funds.
Tips on How to Maximize Your Potential Financial Recovery For a Personal Injury Claim
There are certain actions you can take to help improve the viability of your personal injury claim. Here are just a few tips:
Tip No. 1 – Get Medical Treatment and Follow the Advice of Your Doctor
Do not make the mistake of trying to tough it out after a serious accident. Get the treatment you need and get it as soon as possible. One area insurance companies love to point to in order to reduce or deny a claim is alleged “gaps” in treatment. They claim if you did not see a doctor for an extended period of time, you must not have been seriously injured. Do not allow this argument to have even a shred of credibility. Go see a doctor and follow their treatment plan.
Tip No. 2 – Tell Your Lawyers About Any Prior Auto Accidents and Serious Injuries
In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (i.e. you) is entitled to pursue compensation for the damages caused by the negligent actions of the defendant. This includes being compensated for any aggravation of a prior injury or preexisting medical condition.
This is why it is critical you tell your lawyer about any prior accidents or injuries. They need to be prepared to explain these prior harms to a judge or jury. If you refrain from telling your lawyer about these prior injuries and the defense lawyer discovers them, they will likely use this information to destroy your credibility in court.
Tip No. 3 – Do Not Post Anything on Social Media About Your Case
Time and again, social media has torpedoed personal injury cases due to careless posts by a client or a friend of the client. Keep in mind, when you post something on a social media site like Facebook, Twitter, etc., this is discoverable by the defendant’s counsel and can be introduced as evidence.
As a result, if a photograph is posted of you enjoying a ski trip or you out at a nightclub when you are claiming to be seriously injured, it can significantly affect how a jury views the validity of your claim and the amount you can expect to recover.
Reach Out to Our Office for Help
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident in Colorado Springs, Denver, or Pueblo, you deserve to be properly compensated for your harms and losses. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at McCormick & Murphy, P.C. today to schedule a free case evaluation.