Determining what a case is worth is an important initial step in proceeding with litigation after an accident has occurred.
When it comes to determining what a case is worth, a personal injury lawyer will take a number of factors into account to come up with an estimated valuation. In this blog post, we’ll take a 30,000-foot overview look at how a lawyer determines the proper valuation of a case. It’s important to remember that there are going to be exceptions to the finer details, no two cases are alike. With that said, let’s cover some basics about how the value of a case is estimated.
Determining Liability and Damages
First, there are two defining prongs, or points for every personal injury case: Liability and Damages. From a personal injury lawyer point of view, if you were at fault, or liable, a personal injury lawyer isn’t going to be able to assist you because liability is one of the first test prongs that must be satisfied. If you weren’t at fault, the next step is to assess what damages are.
When it comes to damages, there are a number of different areas that can be explored. But for simplicity’s sake in this post, we’ll focus on medical bills and lost wages when it comes to assessing damages. Ultimately, the value of a personal injury case depends on exactly how injured you were. The more injured you were, the higher the value of the case. The purpose of the law is designed to make someone whole again as though the accident never actually happened. So whenever it comes to evaluating a case, the medical damages and lost wages that you’ve accrued over that time are going to be a major factor in evaluating how much your case is actually worth.
How Insurance Factors In
In general, an insurance policy is going to determine how much overall a lawyer will be working with in terms of total case valuation. The required minimum insurance policy amount in Texas is $30,000. So, for example, if you have a minimum insurance policy of $30,000, and don’t have an additional motor vehicle policy, the maximum value of your case is going to be $30,000 regardless of what your damages are. Remember that there are going to be exceptions to this rule, but more than likely, unless you are independently very wealthy, a personal injury lawyer is going after the insurance policy amount, which in most cases in Texas is $30,000.
Additional Insurance Policies
Oftentimes you have the opportunity, whenever you buy your auto insurance policy, to add on other types of insurance. These other types vary, but in general you’ll either have Uninsured/Underinsured coverage, also known as UM/UIM, or Personal Injury Protection, also known as PIP. This additional insurance basically stacks the insurance policy or policies on top of your primary policy. So let’s say that you have the minimum insurance coverage of $30,000, but you decided to buy Uninsured/Underinsured motor vehicle coverage for $30,000. In this case you have an additional $30,000 worth of insurance on top of the minimum of $30,000. The result is a case valuation of $60,000.
Adding More Insurance
Let’s say you also buy Personal Injury Protection insurance, or PIP. This type of insurance policy comes in $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 worth of insurance coverage. A PIP policy will cover things like lost wages and medical bills. The amounts associated with a PIP policy generally don’t have to be repaid after the accident.
Coming Up With a Valuation
Let’s assume that the other person in the accident is insured with a basic auto insurance policy, which means they are covered by the Texas minimum of $30,000. If you happen to have the additional $30,000 Uninsured/Underinsured coverage, as well as Personal Injury Protection of $10,000, that adds up to being $70,000 worth of insurance. This will be the maximum amount of money that can be recovered, or the maximum estimated value of what your case is worth.
So if for example, if you have $20,000 in medical bills after the accident, the estimated value of your case will range between $20,000 and $70,000.
Since no two cases are alike, there can be many other factors that come into play in determining a valuation. Some of these factors include:
- What county you were in when the accident occurred.
- Who was the treating physician?
- If you had a deposition, how did you perform?
- Will the trial go to a jury?
- What insurance company/companies are involved (some insurance companies tend to pay more)?
Going To Trial
It’s always best to try and avoid going to trial if possible. The reason is that, once a lawsuit is filed, this triggers many different deadlines and additional case expenses. So, the initial step to avoiding a trial is to send a demand letter based on research estimating what the case is worth.
That said, once a valuation is set and a demand letter is sent, if the insurance company doesn’t agree with the demand, then it’s time for you and your personal injury lawyer to discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
The Cost of Going to Trial
Justinian & Associates has a policy that no client pays anything out-of-pocket for a trial unless the case is won, and then, attorneys fees come out of the case settlement, not out of the client’s pocket. Our firm will front any initial costs related to going to trial, such as the cost for filing a lawsuit or handling a deposition. This means it costs you nothing to file a lawsuit, and you don’t lose any money if the case is not won.
Somos guerreros para los heridos
Nuestro único objetivo es la justicia para nuestros clientes, sea lo que sea que eso signifique para ellos.
If you or a loved one has been in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident in Texas, now is the time to seek legal assistance. You need experienced attorneys on your side. Our Austin and San Antonio mass tort lawyers have successfully represented thousands of injured victims.
The legal team at Justinian and Associates has years of experience dealing with personal injury cases involving car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. We have the knowledge, experience, resources and trained investigators to take on large adversaries like billion dollar insurance companies.
All we do is fight for injured victims. And we do not accept defeat. Unless we get you money for your injuries, you don’t pay us a dime.