At first glance, it seems like there’s a quick, simple answer to this question. A company called Jury Verdict Research recently reported that the average personal injury award in Ohio is just over $300,000. Unfortunately, that number doesn’t tell you anything at all about the value of your own Ohio personal injury case, nor even how much most injury victims receive.
One other data point makes that very clear: the median award is just $13,000. How can the same set of data yield an average of more than $300,000 but a median of $13,000? There is a very, very large number of small verdicts and settlements, compared with a very small number of very large ones.
In other words, though the average is more than $300,000, the vast majority of injury victims receive much less. The good news is, that also doesn’t tell you anything about the value of your claim.
Personal injury cases are like most other issues that arise in life: unique from one another. You wouldn’t ask how fast the average person can run to try to guess at your own race time, or what the average lottery winner receives to determine the value of your as-yet-unscratched instant ticket. In a personal injury case, the amount offered in settlement or awarded by a jury depends on a wide range of factors.
Factors in Determining the Value of a Personal Injury Claim
Some of the considerations that will help determine the value of your personal injury claim include:
- The total of your medical expenses and other expenses caused by the injury
- The need for ongoing medical care, rehabilitation and assistance, and the projected cost of those services
- The amount of income you lost during your recovery
- Any decrease in your projected future earning capacity due to the injury
- The degree and nature of your pain and suffering and other quality of life losses
- Your age and general health at the time of the injury
Most people have at least a general understanding of the way those factors impact the value of their claim. But, there are many other variables that you may not have considered. Some of these include:
- The insurance policy limits or personal resources of the person responsible for your injury: The insurance company isn’t responsible for amounts beyond the policy limits, even if your costs were much higher. The responsible party, such as the driver who injured you, may be personally liable for the remainder. But, even if you receive a verdict in excess of the insurance policy limits, it may be impossible to collect from the person who hurt you.
- The county where your case is (or would be) tried: In theory, justice should be the same no matter where in the state you get injured. But, it doesn’t always work out that way. Juries in some counties have more plaintiff-friendly tendencies, while others are conservative about awarding damages. Insurance company lawyers are aware of these differences, and will typically take them into account when negotiating a settlement.
- The strength of the evidence in your case: The burden is on the injured person and their personal injury attorney to prove that the defendant was responsible for the injury, and to prove the nature and extent of the damages. A strong case with solid evidence and qualified experts increases the chances of winning at trial, and of being awarded more significant damages. Insurance company lawyers know this, and tend to make better settlement offers when you and your attorney have built a strong case.
- Your attorney: Because the outcome of your personal injury case depends in large part on the strength of the case you present, having a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with similar cases and knows the local courts can be a critical factor in the amount offered by the insurance company or the success of your case at trial.
Is There a Secret Formula for Valuing a Personal Injury Claim?
You may have heard that insurance companies and attorneys use a simple multiplier to decide the value of a personal injury claim. One formula many clients mention is “three times medical bills” or “three times actual damages.” It’s true that insurance companies generally have guidelines that they use to help determine how much they’ll offer as a settlement. But, the multiplier they apply isn’t constant.
For example, two injury victims might have similar medical expenses, but, one might fully recover in a matter of months, while the other might suffer lifelong pain and limitations on their activities. Obviously, these two victims haven’t suffered the same amount of damages, even though the medical costs were close to the same.
It’s also important to keep in mind that while insurance companies may follow a rubric or plug information into a formula to determine what they’re willing to offer to settle the case, a jury will be considering evidence of damages and making a determination based on the specifics of your case.
So, How Do I Know What My Injury Case is Worth?
The short answer likely isn’t the one you’re hoping for: you can’t. No personal injury lawyer can guarantee you a particular verdict or settlement, nor even promise a minimum amount. In fact, a lawyer who makes this sort of promise is acting unethically, and you should think twice about hiring them.
However, an attorney who is experienced with similar types of cases in the same area where your case will be filed can give you a general idea of what insurance companies have offered and juries have awarded in similar Ohio cases. Your attorney can also review your case with you and explain how various factors may impact the value of your claim, including the strength or weakness of your case, the clarity of the other party’s fault, whether you share responsibility for the accident, the type of injuries you sustained, and other variables.
To get more information about how these factors may impact the value of your Ohio personal injury case, schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned injury lawyers right now. Just call 855-4PLEVIN or fill out the contact form on this page right now.