What is my personal injury case worth?
There are myriad factors to consider in determining the potential value of a personal injury claim. Obviously, the extent and nature of the injuries, along with liability, will be the two primary factors guiding the negotiations of a settlement or the finding of a jury or judge. So, if your injuries are light, requiring little medical treatment, or liability is thrown into question because the injury may have been partially your fault, the value of your case will be less than one in which there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of legitimate medical bills, permanent damages from which you may never recover, months or years worth of current and/or future lost income, and liability is 100% the fault of the other party.
It is important to be realistic about a claim and not assume that because someone struck you in a minor fender-bender, that you are therefore entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars. High value cases tend to come with the unfortunate side effect of causing serious injuries and racking up huge medical bills, and they can take years to recover from, both physically and emotionally. You should be cautious of attorneys who tell you they can get you a huge settlement when your injuries are small. Of course, there are other factors which may make recovery in your case challenging.
There may or may not be an insurance policy covering the negligence of the person or entity that hurt you, and even if there is such a policy, it may or may not have full coverage for your damages. In such cases, you may be able to make a claim on your own policy if it has an uninsured/underinsured motorist provision. On the other hand, it may be possible to make a claim against other parties who might have some responsibility for your damages other than the one directly responsible: there may potential for a products or premises liability action, for example.
Even without insurance, however, you may still be able to pursue a person directly if they have any assets like real property or a bank account that you could put a lien on, or if they are working you might be able to garnish wages. This will, however, require that you obtain a judgment against the person first and locate any such assets or employment.
In all, it is difficult to put a specific dollar figure on personal injury cases. Your medical bills will give you a good start, but since you are entitled to recover pain and suffering as well, these should only be considered a starting point. Of course, if liability is not 100% the other party’s fault, your recovery will be mitigated somewhat.