What’s My Case Worth?

The most common question I am asked by my personal injury clients is, “what’s my case worth?” In this article I will spell out the factors that influence the value of a bodily injury claim. Assuming you have established that someone else is 100 percent at fault and the injuries sustained were directly related to that negligent conduct, Arizona law now permits you to present evidence of your loss or damages.

Damages are generally classified as either special or general.

Special damages are those that have actually been incurred like medical expenses, lost income (past and future), prescriptions, mileage to and from the doctor and any other expense authorized by a doctor that resulted from the accident.

General damages are quite a bit more subjective.

We have all heard the term ‘pain and suffering,’ which is a general damage component of all personal injury claims. Other general damage components include emotional distress, inconvenience, lifestyle disruption and loss of enjoyment or consortium. We will save loss of consortium for another day. Because of the subjective nature of general damages, the majority of cases that end up in litigation are there due to a disagreement over general damages.

I am sure you have heard the old saying, “three times the medical bills equals the value of a personal injury case.” Rest assured, nowhere in Arizona law will you find this mathematical formula. Instead, the computation for general damages is done on a case-by-case basis. Here are some of the actual factors used by attorneys, adjusters and judges to determine the amount of general damages to be awarded on a given case.

  • Length of time treated by a doctor
  • Total medical expenses
  • Medical expenses for treatment versus testing
  • Magnitude of the collision
  • Prior medical history of the injured party
  • Delays or gaps in treatment
  • Are the medical expenses reasonable, customary and necessary?

There are others, but I think you can see simply multiplying medical expenses by three is not what we as lawyers or insurance adjusters do to assess the value of a case. In future articles, I will examine an actual case and give you my own assessment of the value.

If you have been in an accident and would like to know if an offer from an insurance company is fair, give me a call at 602-535-1900. There is no charge and at the very least you will learn more than you knew before the call!