How much is my personal injury case worth?
Updated: May 22
Case values are very difficult to estimate, especially in the early stages of your recovery from your injuries. Generally, cases are valued based on a number of different factors. To determine how much your personal injury case might be worth, consider the following factors:
The severity of the injury. Is the injury permanent or will it heal over time? The most extreme examples of a permanent injury are death or paralysis. Nevertheless, even injuries that heal over time can cause complications like joint stiffness, arthritis, or nerve damage. Do you have scarring? If so, where is it located on your body? A facial scar carries more value than a scar on your leg. The answers to these questions (and others pertaining to the characteristics of the injury) help dictate the value of a case.
The amount of medical care you received. Did you just have some aches and pains that resolved themselves with some stretching suggested by your primary care doctor and some over-the-counter pain medication? Or did you have a protracted course of physical therapy, cortisone injections, and finally a surgery in order to alleviate the discomfort you were in? Were you med-flighted from the scene of the injury to a hospital for emergency surgery? Your course of medical care and the invasiveness of that care usually have a direct relationship to the value of your case.
The cost of your medical treatment. Medical bills are often paid by various insurers – auto insurance, homeowners insurance, or health insurance (including private health insurance, ERISA plans, Medicare, and Medicaid/Masshealth). Nevertheless, reimbursement for your medical bills (or a portion of those bills) very often is a factor in determining the value of your case.
Comparative Fault. In Massachusetts, you can collect compensation in a personal injury case if you are 50% or less at fault for your injuries. See G.L. c. 231, § 85. In most cases, the party alleged to be at fault will do his/her best to deflect the blame or point a finger back at you as being (at least partially) responsible for causing your own injuries. To the extent you played some role in your injuries, “comparative fault” can be attributed to you. For example, if the other party thinks you are 25% at fault for the incident that caused your injuries, the full value of your case could be reduced by 25%.
Lost Wages or Loss of Earning Capacity. Did you miss time from work because you were physically or mentally unable to do your job? I will write to your employer and gather the necessary documents to quantify the amount of money you lost as a result of your injuries. Were your injuries of such severity that you can never return to the job you had before the injury? We may need to discuss hiring a vocational expert to determine your skill transferability and job prospects given your new physical or mental impairments. These vocational counselors are authorities on vocational rehabilitation, and have the expertise needed to give an opinion of the possibility of comparable future employment, given a client’s age, skills, physical or mental limitations, interests, earning power, and other things.
Pain and Suffering. This subjective factor encompasses all of those things that you enjoyed before your injury, but were unable to enjoy as a result of the injury and while you were recovering. Examples of pain and suffering vary greatly from client to client. Are you an active person who was unable to play in your weekly basketball league? Did you have to withdraw from the marathon you had been training so hard for? Clients who are not athletic have equally valid claims for pain and suffering. Do you love cooking but because of a loss of mobility, you had to resort to ordering takeout or delivery? Did an injury to your hand make you unable to play an instrument or paint or otherwise take pleasure in a particular artistic craft?
If you have a significant other, child, or parent who has been injured, that person(s) might also have a claim under the theory of “loss of consortium” for the loss of companionship that
your injury has caused that person.
These are just some of the factors that go into determining the value of a case. Some of
these factors are more easily quantifiable than others, and insurance companies and their lawyers will seize upon the factors that could be used to reduce the value of your case. I understand these tactics and can effectively advocate for you so that you end up with as much compensation for your injuries as possible.