This is the million-dollar question. This is typically the question attorneys hear during their first consultation most often. The frank answer is that any attorney who answers this question during their first meeting is a liar. At the outset of the case especially, there are far too many unknown variables for an attorney to properly evaluate the potential damages of a car accident case. While certainly an attorney may have a vague idea how the case might progress based on some initial information, a clearer picture of an injured party’s recovery will not be determined until treatment is nearing its end.
So, what factors play a role in determining valuation of a car accident claim?
Type of Impact – Insurance companies and juries value distinctive types of accidents differently. A fender bender with a broken license plate frame will certainly be more difficult to prove exceptional damages compared to a totaled car with airbag deployment. Just because you have a minor impact does not mean that your case has no value, it just means that you and your attorney must work more diligently to prove your case.
Type of Injuries – Did you suffer some minor neck pain? Perhaps your shoulder tendons tore slightly as a result of the force of impact. Maybe the airbag deployed, and your head cracked against the safety device causing concussion. The type of injury has a huge impact on case valuation. While whiplash symptoms may be the most common, more objective injuries like herniated spinal disks, torn tendons, or concussion are far more likely to increase case value in the eyes of a jury.
Severity and Length of Injury – If your neck and back feel are just a bit sore for just a few days, it may not even be worth the hassle of bringing a personal injury claim. On the contrary, two to three years of substantial pain (or permanent injury) may bring in a substantial award if there is sufficient evidence to establish the damages.
Type of Treatment – Most physicians will recommend conservative management for most spinal injuries. Whether you and your primary care doctor choose chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, or other outlets, these modalities are the most common after a car accident to help deal with most types of accident pain. If these treatments are unsuccessful, working with your doctor for more interventional treatment such as pain injections, advanced medical imaging, and surgery will hugely impact case value.
The insurance company’s job after your car accident is to save money. They have spent millions (or billions) of dollars analyzing cases, hiring doctor, and evaluating damages so they know best how to limit your recovery. In your mind, you may be severely injured, but recover may also be limited if you have skeletons in your records. The insurance company knows what a jury will hate to see. They will search your records for the following:
Attorneys may not be doctors, but many are experienced in working with clients, medical providers, and other witnesses to evaluate the potential damages of a case. In addition, the qualified personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS have spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours reviewing medical records to help evaluate personal injury damages. Call today for a free evaluation of your personal injury claim.