Factors That Could Impact the Value of Your Claim
When attempting to place a value on your personal injury claim at the start of the negotiation process, it’s helpful to refer to a set formula used by the involved insurance company to calculate specific damages. First, you have to find out if the insurance provider uses a formula to start. There are many possible factors that can impact the value of your injury claim — both positively and negatively. Forming a proper understanding of how these elements affect your case can give you a clearer and more accurate estimate of how much compensation you should expect and could even allow you to work with your New Jersey personal injury lawyer to strengthen your overall case.
In most cases, factors that could aid or hinder your case will impact it at one of two points: during the assignment of a multiplier for “general” or non-economic damages and after a general figure for your claim that has been estimated and the final determining total. Generally, questions that affect your case’s multiplier for pain and suffering damages will be matters of fact, while more subjective factors that allow judgment and bias to influence your settlement — for better or worse — primarily come into effect after other concerns have been carefully weighed.
The multiplier for non-economic damages has the possibility to tremendously affect the value of your claim. This number usually ranges from 1.5 to 5, so the multiplier assigned to your damages can end in a given case receiving a settlement figure nearly three times greater than of another case with similar medical expenses. Due to this fact, understanding the many factors that contribute to the decision about the pain and suffering multiplier in a case is extremely useful when entering into settlement negotiations.
Factors Impacting Your Value Multiplier
Certain factors can be a sign that an insurance provider will assign your claim a higher multiplier because they are aware that a jury would consider your pain and suffering to be substantial. If you suffered from so-called “hard injuries,” which are usually treated more seriously by insurance providers due to their ease of demonstration through medical diagnostic scans — like X-rays or MRIs — or because they have the potential for severe health impacts. Hard injuries can include:
- Bone fractures
- Joint injuries
- Concussion or head injury
- Damage to vertebrae or the spine, and
- Nerve damage
Other possible factors that could show that your injuries are severe also can increase your damages multiple, like:
- medical bills for treatment related to your injuries
- medical care provided primarily by an M.D., a hospital, or a medical clinic,
- surgical procedures, and
- prescriptions for medication intended to help with your injuries.
If the period of your recovery or the length of your treatment regimen is particularly long, this can also potentially increase your multiplier for non-economic damages. If your injuries left you with any scarring or other permanent damage, such as weakness stiffness, or limited mobility in a joint, your multiplier for damages is nearly certain to be increased. Also, your multiplier may be increased if you suffered a high level of physical or emotional distress related to your injuries. This can be demonstrated by psychological consultations or treatment, or if the activity of your everyday life were impeded, including:
- Special events and celebrations
- Vacations and recreational activities, and
- Other important occasions.
However, the reverse is also true. There are many factors that could decrease your multiplier to the lower end of the spectrum and result in you obtaining less for your pain and suffering. If your injuries were considered to be “soft tissue injuries,” like bruising, muscle strains, and sprains, that healed quickly, required little medical care, needed to prescription medications, and left you with no permanent effects, your damages multiplier will likely be lower. Also, if most of your medical expenses are associated with diagnosing your injuries, or the majority of your medical treatment was administered by someone who was not a medical doctor — such as a chiropractor, for example — these factors will all be considered to mean your injuries were less severe. Also, if you experienced no significant physical or emotional problems beyond your injuries, your pain and suffering damages will be lower.
Factors Impacting Your Overall Case
After the general figure of your settlement is calculated, there are other possible factors that can potentially nudge it up or down. Fault for the accident is usually the most significant factor. If the accident that caused your injuries was unanimously the fault of the other party, its easier to get a higher value, while shared fault can potentially limit your eligible damages. The methods used to defend both sides of the claim can potentially influence your settlement total in a less defined way — but just as important. A defendant who comes off as untrustworthy can potentially tip the scales in your favor, while it can be harmful to your claim if you seem impatient or disorganized during negotiations.
New Jersey Car Accidents
More than 75% of car accidents in New Jersey happen in just 10 counties. In 2016, Bergen County experienced the highest number of crashes in the state at 29,145. That same year, 62,690 collisions in the state resulted in injuries.
Car accidents are the leading contributor to death and serious injuries in the United States, with more people dying each year. Even in non-fatal crashes, the resulting injuries can be life-changing, causing victims to be saddled with expensive medical bills while being unable to return to work to cover the costs. Making sure you get the compensation that you need to make a full recovery after a serious New Jersey car accident is critical.
If injured victims think a reckless driver is responsible for their injuries, they should consult with a New Jersey auto accident lawyer immediately. Brady, Brady & Reilly, LLC has helped countless victims obtain fair settlements after being injured in a car accident. Contact our law offices today at (201) 997- 0030 to see how we can help.