The value of a claim is associated with the amount of compensation each aspect of the claim yields. Every case type is different and has different valuing factors. As far as personal injury, there is often hidden value concealed by insurance companies. A personal injury claim can result in different levels of value depending on the situation or injury at hand. When valuing your personal injury case, consider the steps below to establish what your claim is worth. At Rob Levine & Associates, we urge anyone with a personal injury case or any case to find a professional to evaluate your claim.
Costs from medical expenses determine a large portion of the overall value of your personal injury claim. The value of medical bills are costs you incur that are reasonable and are causally related to the injury. These costs cover any medical attention that was necessary to the treatment of said injuries.
Depending on the state where the injury occurred, you will have to consider the Collateral Source Rule. In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, this rule states that insurance companies cannot offset any money you’ve received from a third-party source to reduce what they owe you.
Often insurance companies try to save money by assuring the plaintiff the third-party health coverage paid for the medical expenses so there is no need for compensation to the victim. This is not accurate. The third-party may have paid for expenses, but they have the right to be paid back. The defendant’s insurance must pay dollar for dollar all costs of medical expenses regardless of whether it was covered by a third party.
If an injury causes you the inability to work, you are at a loss of wages. The number of lost wages and the amount of time that passes are taken into consideration when calculating the value of your personal injury claim.
There are a few ways to deal with this loss. If your injury leaves you out of work for more than a week, you may be eligible for Temporary Disability Insurance or TDI. This government-funded assistance is established to protect laborers from going into debt while trying to recover from an injury. TDI is only required to give a portion of the wages that you would normally receive. In this case, you can take advantage of employee benefits if it’s an option for you.
Some employers offer benefits such as paid time off, vacation time, and sick days where you can take time off and still receive your pay. Insurance companies don’t tell you that you have the right to get paid back for using these benefits that you earned and had to deplete during your healing process. To get the most out of your claim, ensure you are getting paid for every dollar or time spent healing and losing wages.
Pain & Suffering
Valuing pain and suffering is a complex process based on the type of injury, the degree of the disability, and the time passed with the injury.
Partial disability vs. Total disability
When figuring out the degree of disability regarding your injury, attorneys will assess if it’s a partial disability or a total disability. Partial disability refers to someone being able to perform at partial physical capacity but not fully capable of their daily activities. Total disability means the injury has made it impossible for you to continue any of your normal daily tasks. In this case, a victim may not be able to do things themselves and will be completely out of work.
Objective finding vs. Subjective findings
The medical findings or proof are valued in one of two ways. An objective finding is a known medical condition that cannot be disputed due to physical proof from tests, scans, x- rays, or any other method of measuring an injury internally or externally. A subjective finding is a known medical issue that has only been verbally disclosed by the injured victim. Not all pain and suffering can be seen through tests and scans. This can be in the form of whiplash, muscle pains, or any other physical pain that can’t be visually accounted for.
Understanding the life of an injury is going to reveal the most value of your claim. Attorneys will assess the injury from the initial incident to the healing process, and to the maximum medical improvement of the client. This process takes longer to account for but when completed will give attorneys the information they need to value your injury.
If you are at Maximum Medical Improvement also known as MMI, and still have lasting effects related to the injury, this is considered permanency and can add value to your claim. MMI must be documented by a doctor who describes that even with all the treatment possible, there are permanent effects causally related to the injury. The practitioner will have to outline the causes of injury and establish the percentage of the body that has been affected. If the patient is treated but can’t reach 100% of physical capacity after the injury, this will be taken into account when assessing the value of the claim.
Scarring is another form of permanency and can bring additional value to your personal injury claim. A scar can seriously deform a victim, interfering with their daily life. Like other injuries, a duration of time is needed when healing a scar. Technically, it can take up to 6 years to value a scarring injury due to the changes the scar can take on through the healing process. If after 6 years or with a proper MMI assessment, the scar still has prominent characteristics like being raised, large, discolored, or deformed, it can be valued at a higher rate.
Residuals are added to the value of your claim as it describes an ongoing or future treatment a person might need as a result of the injury. Depending on the type of injury and the severity of it, you may be left with necessary treatment or expenses. This can be in the form of therapy, in-home nurses, injections, a wheelchair, or any other cost that directly relates to maintaining your future medical care.
The value of incidentals is the total amount of minor costs incurred by the injured party to cover small out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury. You are deserving of compensation for anything you buy to support your recovery or maintain your health. Some examples of incidentals are crutches, supplements, prescriptions, and more. Save all receipts related to incidentals to redeem compensation.
It’s challenging to navigate assessing the value of any legal claim, and as legal professionals, we always recommend clients to contact an attorney that specializes in the legal matter at hand. Getting legal expertise is the best way to ensure you are getting the most out of your case. Contact Rob Levine & Associates for a free case evaluation today! Don’t wait to get the compensation you deserve.