Assessing the Value in Personal Injury Cases
Assessment of value for damages in a personal injury case can be a complicated subject. An important matter to consider is not only what you and your attorney agree upon for your case valuation but what and how the insurance adjuster for the offending party is going to value the case. As you can imagine, many factors go into the monetary valuation of a case.
The initial factor that will commonly be reviewed (for example, in the case of a motor vehicle accident) is whether the injured party had full or limited tort coverage on his/her automobile insurance. If the coverage is limited tort, and no exceptions apply to change that designation, then the injured party is limited in his/her recovery to payment of medical costs and lost wages as a result of the accident. If the injured party has full tort, then damages beyond medical and wage loss can be pursued such as those for pain and suffering. For obvious reasons, cases in which the injured party has full tort will typically yield higher valuation from an adjuster because the damages amounts potentially awarded by a jury at trial could be high depending on the case facts.
An insurance adjuster’s valuation of a personal injury case will likely involve consideration and calculation of amounts attributable to a combination of the injured party’s medical treatment; medical expenses; recovery duration; lost wages – both past and future; physical/mental disability; disfigurement/scarring; loss of social function, family, and enjoyment off life’s activities; and/or emotional damages. But beyond actual damages of wage loss and medical expenses, it can be difficult to assign monetary value to such abstract damages like loss of life’s pleasures and pain and suffering.
As such, an insurance adjuster will typically use a basic mathematical formula to assign a baseline monetary amount to damages in a case and then adjust that valuation based upon the other factors of the case. The adjuster will start by calculating the total amount of medical charges and wage loss benefits and then multiply that amount by 1.5 up to 5 depending on the severity of the case. The worse the injuries, recovery time, etc., the higher the multiplier that will be applied. Additional factors go into this calculation such as whether the injury suffered involved fractures, surgeries, or was simply a soft-tissue injury that healed without invasive medical treatment. An injured party that had multiple surgeries, was admitted to the hospital for a prolonged period, and can no longer work, is going to get a higher case valuation than that of someone who treated for two weeks with a chiropractor and was able to return to their regular employment. Whether the injured party was partially at fault for the accident will also be a key factor in the adjuster’s assessment of case value. Also, keep in mind that there is no required formula that an insurance adjuster must follow in case valuation, so valuations will vary.
Of course, each and every case is different, with a different sets of facts. Also, insurance companies and their internal policies are not the same, and within those different insurance companies, not all insurance adjusters are the same. It is important to find an attorney that has experience in handling these matters as they will be better able to deal with insurance adjusters with whom the attorneys have commonly crossed paths before and can often get a better reading for valuation purposes and ultimately advising their client on important case decisions.
If you need assistance with this or any other work comp or injury issue, please feel free to contact the Attorneys at RUDBERG LAW OFFICES, LLC toll free at 1-866-306-2667 or email [email protected]
Know Your Rights! Protect Your Rights!