Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have a personal-injury case, you are almost certainly wondering or asking your Personal Injury Lawyer:
“How much money are we suing for?”
“What is my case worth?”
“How much will I get when this is over?”
The short, and honest, answer is that it depends on the particular facts and circumstances of your case. The principal factors that determine how much compensation you will receive are:
- the seriousness of your injuries – did you suffer a permanent injury? did you, or will you in the future, require surgery? do your injuries prevent you from working or performing your activities of daily living? did you, or will you in the future, require medical treatment like hospital/physician/nurses’ services, therapy, medications or home health aides, medical supplies or devices? what does your doctor say about the significance of your claimed injuries and your future prognosis? what does the insurance company’s doctor say about your claimed injuries and your future prognosis? how old are you, and how long are you reasonably expected to live?
Each injured person believes that his or her injuries are serious and significant (and rightfully so). However, in the world of insurance claims and personal-injury cases, there is a direct correlation between objective proof of a serious, permanent injury and the amount of compensation you can reasonably expect to receive.
In other words, the more objective proof that you have of your claimed injuries, the more compensation you will likely receive. Objective proof of your injuries can include certain findings in your medical records, the results of your diagnostic (MRIs, X-rays, EMGs, etc.) tests, surgery/operative findings and reports as well as verifiable economic losses like income (documented by your pay stubs/W2s/salary & attendance records) and out-of-pocket expenses (documented by receipts, credit-card statements, etc.) for items like medical care and treatment, prescriptions, medical supplies/devices or transportation expenses. Insurance companies discount subjective (unverifiable) complaints of pain if they are unsupported by objective medical proof. So, if you are in pain, make sure your pain complaints are well documented by a medical professional and supported by objective medical evidence. The success and outcome of your case depends upon it.
Injured people who are younger may receive more compensation than their elders. This is precisely because younger people have a longer life-expectancy than their elders and will have to live with (and suffer through) the permanent effect of their injury for a longer period of time than their elders.
- the strength of your liability case – is the person/people or company/companies that you sued really responsible for your accident? did you, in part or in whole, cause your own accident? can it be seriously disputed that your accident was caused by the negligence of someone else?
Each injured person must prove that the party or parties (known as the “defendant[s]”) he or she sued were negligent and caused the claimed accident. In certain types of cases, for example a rear-end automobile accident or a construction worker not provided with safety equipment who injures him or herself on the job site, proving your liability case is often easier. However, in a disputed liability case, for example a T-bone-type automobile accident where both drivers claim that they had the green light or a slip-and-fall accident on a temporary condition like water where the property claims that it did not know about the water, proving your liability case can be more difficult. Furthermore, a jury could find you partially or completely at fault for causing your own accident, and therefore entitled to a reduced recovery or no compensation at all! For example, if you tripped and fell on a broken sidewalk, but were distracted and not watching where you were stepping, you could be found partially or completely at fault for causing your own accident.
The stronger your liability case, the more compensation you can reasonably expect to receive. You can prove your liability case through evidence like testimony, independent eyewitnesses, photographs, videos and/or expert witnesses. The more proof you have, the more likely you will win.
- the financial resources and/or insurance coverage of the defendants – are you suing a person who has no insurance, no assets and no income? or, are you suing a large company with several layers of insurance coverage and substantial financial assets?
The financial resources of the person(s) or company(s) you sued is directly related to the amount of compensation you can reasonably expect to receive from your case.
For example, some automobile owners in New York maintain a minimum bodily injury insurance policy of $25,000. So, if you are injured by an automobile with such a policy, you could be limited to receiving only $25,000 for your injuries even if they are worth far in excess of the insurance policy. Sure, you could attempt to go after the automobile owner’s personal assets like a home, salary or second car. However, in most circumstances, going after the automobile owner’s personal assets is far more trouble than it’s worth — consider a defendant who owns a private house with two mortgages on it already, has no salary because he or she is disabled and does not own a second car or any other asset for that matter. In this circumstance, you would likely be trying to get blood from a stone and likely would not receive a penny over the $25,000 insurance policy.
In complete contrast, you could be injured by an automobile owned by a high-net-worth individual or a corporation, which could have a primary insurance policy of $1 million and then several layers of excess insurance on top of that. In this circumstance, there would likely be enough insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries.
In New York City, most large commercial and residential property owners have primary insurance coverage of at least $1 million. Some of the larger commercial and residential property owners may even have “umbrella” or “excess” insurance coverage in addition to the $1 million primary insurance policy. Most individual homeowners have primary insurance coverage of at least $300,000. However, be aware that not all corporate or individual property owners have insurance — some buildings in New York City are uninsured, exposing their owners’ personal assets to personal-injury lawsuits.
- the venue of your case, the viewpoints of the jurors chosen to hear it and the assigned judge – is your case pending in a county where jurors are more liberal in awarding money? are you and your lawyer more likable than the defendant and the defendant’s lawyer? is the trial judge admonishing you or your lawyer in front of the jury?
The trial of a personal injury case can be reasonably compared to a fifth-grade student election: the most popular/likable person wins! If the jury likes you and/or your lawyer, they are more likely to vote in your favor. If the jury despises you and/or your lawyer, you are more likely to lose your case.
Jurors also tend to identify with, respect and follow the lead of the judge! If the jurors perceive from the trial judge’s actions that the judge is taking a particular side in the case, the party against whom they perceive the judge is against will likely lose. There is nothing worse than your trial judge reprimanding you or your lawyer in front of the jury. It severely undermines you and/or your lawyer’s credibility and could substantially subtract from your believability and likability.
In New York City, there is a perceived culture that some boroughs are more liberal with their view of personal-injury cases and monetary compensation. For example, Bronx County and Kings County are perceived to be the better venues for personal-injury plaintiffs, where jury verdicts tend to be more in favor of plaintiffs and damages awards tend to be higher than those in the other boroughs. In New York County (Manhattan) and Richmond County (Staten Island), jurors tend to be more skeptical and suspect of personal-injury cases and tend to award smaller damages awards than neighboring boroughs. However, especially in today’s day and age, these perceptions are constantly evolving, and the end results heavily depend upon the unique facts and circumstances of each personal-injury case.
Blake G. Goldfarb is trusted to professionally evaluate and determine the likelihood of recovery and the value of personal-injury cases throughout all of New York City. His “valuation” opinions are sought by fellow personal injury lawyers as well as judges. If you are wondering about the value of your case, and would like a free opinion, call Blake today at 1-844-672-5253 or e-mail him directly at email@example.com.
Blake offers free consultations and does not charge you a fee unless you receive money from your case.