COMPENSABLE DAMAGES IN INJURY CASES

personal  injuryWhen it comes to injury cases, people often ask, “How much is my case worth?”.    To answer this question, it must be understood that each case stands on its own merits.   There is no quick answer to this question.

In automobile accidents, years ago, the settlement amount could expect to be approximately three times the amount of medical expenses.   For example, if the total chiropractic and/or medical bills were $4,000.00, the injured party could expect to receive a settlement in the amount of $12,000.00.   But this is no longer the case.

Years  ago,  the largest insurance companies gambled on the likelihood of lawsuits being filed by many of the largest legal advertisers who worked on sheer volume.  The insurance companies discovered that large legal advertisers working on sheer volume were not likely to file suit if offered small settlement  amounts.  Thus, the largest insurance companies began offering settlements as low as an amount equal to the medical bills or at times,  two-times the medical bills.  And  they found that,  in fact,  many  of  the larger  advertisers  would encourage their clients to accept  the offer.

To justify their low offers, insurance adjusters made arguments of “little vehicle damage”, or “all treatment was chiropractic only” or the injured party only treated for 30 or 60 days, etc.

Thus, to combat these low settlement offers, the firm representing the injured party must be willing and able to litigate the case on behalf of their injured client.  First and foremost, the case must be well documented.    If there is significant vehicle damage, there should be photographs to show the property damage.   Jurors will appreciate knowing that this was not just some very minor  vehicle collision.   Second, if there are visible injuries, photographs should show any visible injuries, scars, etc.

If there is a delay in obtaining treatment, the insurance adjuster will attempt to argue that theaccident  injuries client was not really injured, because he/she waited two weeks before seeking treatment.  You should note that after a vehicle collision, at times it may be several hours to three days before the full  impact of the injury can be realized.  It is always a good idea to be examined as soon as possible if injured in an accident.

In building up your case, there is property damage that must be addressed.   There are special damages (medical and chiropractic bills, ambulance, physical therapy bills, and lost wages).    Then there are compensable damages for physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, shock and fright, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, future pain and suffering, future medical expenses, diminished work capacity, loss of consortium (if married,  the injured party’s spouse may be able to recover damages for loss of marital relations),  and there may even be punitive damages (for example, if injured by a drunk driver).

And of course, one has to consider the liable party’s insurance policy limits.  If the liable party only has a $25,000.00 insurance policy, and outside of the insurance policy, the liable party is judgment proof (i.e., has no assets of any kind), then the most the injured party can expect to recover  is $25,000.00 (the policy limit).

Accordingly, in order to maximize recovery in any type of injury case, the case must be well-documented (property damage, physical injury, psychological injury, if any, medical and special damages).  If the case is well documented, the insurance company may not opt to role the dice at trial and end  up with a judgment against their insured which exceeds the policy limits.

To have all of your questions answered or to discuss an injury matter, feel free to contact my office: VANJOHNSON LAW FIRM, LLC,   (404) 551-2428.  Anthony Overton Van Johnson, Esq.