When you have a personal injury case, one of your main concerns may be about your estimated settlement amount. For many people, the first resource to estimate your settlement is your lawyer. But can lawyers for personal injury tell you what your case is worth?
Can I Ask My Lawyer What My Case Is Worth?
Sometimes, lawyers for personal injury can estimate what your case is worth. However, there is a distinct difference between estimating the value of your case based on your injuries and the true value of your case based on legal procedures and case details.
To put it simply, although your lawyer may be able to estimate your settlement, they will not be able to predict the true value of your settlement until you’ve gotten a bit further in.
Why Lawyers for Personal Injury Can Only Guesstimate
Lawyers for personal injury are exposed to many types of injuries and cases, which makes them experts at guesstimating the value of your case. However, no lawyer will be able to tell you the exact value of your case by only looking at your case during a consultation. Because there are so many factors that are used to determine the value of your case, personal injury lawyers can truthfully only guesstimate what your settlement value will be.
One of the biggest factors that will determine the value of your settlement are the details of your case. For example, the precise nature of your injury, the value of your medical bills, criminal circumstances related to your accident, liability claims, and many other details are used to calculate the value of your case in court or through settlement negotiations. A lawyer can only guesstimate based on case details because many of these factors can be unpredictable.
In some personal injury cases, the value of your case will be limited by the insurance settlement. For example, if the insurance company can only write a check for a certain amount of money, it may not be possible to claim more than that amount for your compensation.
Often, insurance limitations are dictated by the policyholder’s specific situation. For example, if you are in a car accident with someone who only has a basic policy, the insurance limitations will determine the value of your payout, especially if the liable party has no other assets.
No Assets From Liable Party
One of the biggest reasons why your personal injury lawyer may not be able to estimate your settlement amount is because of the assets of the liable party. In a case where the liable party has many assets to draw a settlement from, the settlement for your case will likely be subject to the compensation caps for Texas.
However, in cases where the liable party does not have any assets to draw from, your settlement will be kept at the insurance limitation for the policyholder or liable party. If the person who is responsible for the accident does not have a job or other assets to draw a higher settlement from, then your settlement amount will be vastly limited.
Judge and Jury Calculation
Finally, if your case ends up going to court, then the settlement will be determined by the calculations made by the judge and jury. In some cases, there are generalized calculations that can be used to estimate your claim. However, the opinion of a judge and jury will be the final determining factor for the value of your case. Only a court trial with convincing evidence will be able to influence the final calculation for your settlement amount.
Why Compensation Caps May Not Matter
In Texas, there are compensation caps for economic damages related to a number of personal injury cases, including medical malpractice and car accidents. However, the compensation caps for your case may not be applicable if the liable party has no assets and there is an insurance limitation on the amount of your settlement.
To put it simply, your settlement has to come from real money, and if the insurance is limited and the liable party has no money for your settlement, there is no way to increase your settlement amount.
How To Maximize Your Settlement
In cases where your personal injury claim must be settled in court, there are several things lawyers for personal injury can do to maximize your settlement amount. Provided the liable party has assets to draw a settlement from, you will be able to negotiate and provide evidence for a greater settlement.
One strategy you can use is not accepting the first settlement offer from the insurance company until you have spoken with a lawyer who has assessed your case. Rejecting the first offer is the first step to negotiating for a settlement that is more appropriate for your injuries and damages. In addition to not accepting the first settlement offer, other strategies your personal injury lawyer can use include:
Collect and Preserve Evidence
It’s essential to collect and preserve evidence about your personal injury, particularly if you want to maximize your settlement if your claim goes to court. You will need to have evidence for the judge and jury to make a fair judgment on your injuries and damages. Evidence for your case will be collected from police records, medical documents, witness testimony, expert testimony, video evidence, photographic evidence, independent medical reports, and more.
Keep Track of Medical Documents
It’s also important to keep track of all your medical documents. While your personal injury lawyer can request your medical documents directly from the hospital or physician who treated your injuries, it’s also vital to have documents about your prescriptions, ongoing treatments, and more.
All of your medical documents from the date of your injury are relevant to your case, as this establishes the cost of your financial burdens and the estimated ongoing costs if you have a condition that will need additional treatment in the future.
Include Non-Economic Damages
Your personal injury lawyer may want to include non-economic damages when you are seeking a settlement in court. Non-economic damages are typically the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the accident. People who claim pain and suffering typically experience severe emotional stress after the accident.
For example, if you became permanently disabled, if you’ve been disfigured or scared, if you’ve lost companionship, or if you have experienced other emotional trauma as a result of the accident, these can all be calculated into non-economic damages. As a note, non-economic damages are not capped in Texas.
File Your Case Quickly
You should also be sure to file your case quickly. Not only will filing your case quickly avoid the statute of limitations that applies to personal injury cases, but it will also help you preserve the evidence you need to prove your case. It’s a good idea to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are medically able.
Although you may want to ask your personal injury lawyer about your potential settlement amount, it’s important to keep in mind that your attorney may only be able to take an educated guess on what your settlement will be. There are many factors that may determine your settlement, such as the liable party not having additional assets to draw from. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC today to learn more about your potential settlement amount.