If you have been seriously injured in an accident and would like to discuss your potential case with an attorney, call or text us today at 908-352-2323. Consultations with our personal injury attorneys are always free.
“How much is my case worth?”
Clients that we meet with are dealing with serious accident injuries like broken bones, nerve damage, burns, severe back pain, or traumatic brain injury.
They may have been involved in a serious car or truck accident.
They may have taken a bad fall, possibly slipping on ice or snow.
They may have been injured on the job in a work accident or construction accident.
These accident victims are now forced to miss work while seeing their medical bills piling up. Many are awaiting surgery and unable to even walk on their own into our office.
With good reason, these clients want to know what kind of compensation they can expect to receive for all their pain and suffering.
Before we look take a closer look at this question, first a quick red flag warning for anyone meeting with a personal injury law firm for the first time.
RED FLAG ALERT
If a personal injury attorney ever gives you an immediate answer for how much your case is worth at your first meeting, we strongly suggest consulting with another lawyer or firm.
For example, if an attorney says your case is worth millions without gathering more information (i.e. police reports, medical records, insurance info, etc.), the red flag should be raised.
What are Personal Injury Damages?
How much is my case worth? Well, the short answer legally is “damages”.
What are personal injury damages?
When someone is seriously injured in a car or truck accident, work accident or slip and fall, they are entitled to financial compensation for their injuries. Monetary damages are paid to the injured person (plaintiff) by the person or company who is found to be legally responsible for the accident (the defendant or their insurer).
How are Personal Injury Damages Awarded?
Damages can be awarded through a settlement negotiation. In a negotiated settlement, there is an amount agreed upon by each of the parties, their attorneys, and their insurance companies.
This negotiation process is where choosing a law firm with experience is crucial. Clients want their lawyer to have a track record of securing great results for their clients. This is where choosing an experienced law firm with a proven track record is critical.
At Mintz & Geftic, we have that experience and track record.
When a settlement cannot be agreed upon by all parties, then the personal injury lawsuit will proceed to trial. In this example, damages would be determined by a judge or jury at the conclusion of the trial in a verdict.
When it comes to most personal injury lawsuits, damages that are awarded are classified as “compensatory”. In certain lawsuits punitive damages may be awarded as well, but those cases are not typical. Punitive damages serve as a punishment and deterrent.
As the name suggests, compensatory damages are intended to provide compensation to the injured person for what they lost due to their accident and resulting injuries.
Compensatory damages are meant to make the injured person whole again from a financial perspective. Examples include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
Medical expenses can include any costs that are related to the victim’s accident or injury. For example, consultations with doctors, prescriptions, treatments, surgeries, etc. In addition, if the accident or injury requires medical care for years to come, then future medical expenses may apply as well.
Lost wages include any take-home pay that the plaintiff has been unable to earn due to their accident and injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Loss of earning capacity – In some cases, plaintiffs may be able to recover earnings that will be lost in the future. The following excerpt is from New Jersey’s jury instructions regarding loss of future earnings:
“If you decide from the evidence that it is reasonably probable that plaintiff will lose income in the future, because [either] he/she has not been able to return to work, [or] he/she has not been able to keep the same job, [or] he/she will be able to work for a shorter period of time only, then you should include an amount to compensate for those lost earnings.”
Pain and Suffering – Defined
Physical pain and suffering is the pain caused by the plaintiff’s actual physical injuries. This includes the pain and discomfort that the victim has suffered with since their accident. In addition, it relates to the effects that will remain into the future as a result of injuries from the defendant’s negligence.
Mental pain and suffering refers to affects the injury has had from a mental and emotional perspective. This can include things like emotion distress, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, anxiety, depression, sleep loss, etc. Like we mentioned with physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering includes the effects since the accident as well as those that are more likely to take place in the future.
Pain and Suffering – Quantifying it
While damages such as medical expenses and lost wages contain actual data and figures that can be calculated, putting a dollar amount on pain and suffering is far more difficult (see red flag warning at top of page).
If you check with different insurance and legal resources, answers will vary.
the Mulitplier Approach
There are some that suggest using a “multiplier” to estimate a dollar amount for pain and suffering.
In one “multiplier” scenario, one simply takes the medical expenses that the client has endured and multiplies them by three to five.
Another concept adds up all the other compensatory damages and multiplies that figure by a certain number. The multiplier they use under this theory would fall between a range of 1.5 on the low end to 4 or 5 on the high end.
What factors determine which multiplier to use according to this idea? Things like the seriousness of an injury, impact on work and daily life, estimated recovery time, and level of fault of the other party involved in the accident.
Of course, while maybe providing a ballpark estimate or guideline for some, these concepts clearly have their flaws and should not be relied upon.
For example, if damages add up to $200k then that multiplier of 1.5 equals a settlement of $300k on the low end…while a multiplier of 5 can lead to $1 Million on the high end. That is quite a wide range!
The time unit method
Other insurers and attorneys have used a time unit method to help calculate an amount for pain and suffering. For example, some may come up with a figure of what the pain and suffering is worth on an hourly basis. Multiply that for 24hrs, 365 days and then years (based on life expectancy) to come up with a total.
While breaking pain down on an hourly or daily level is helpful, coming up with a dollar amount for that hour or day is still a challenge. Furthermore, in New Jersey, attorneys can explain the “per day” concept to jurors. However, they cannot suggest a specific dollar amount, so at trial it is still ultimately left up to the jury.
An experienced law firm like Mintz & Geftic understands this. We leverage our experience in utilizing key strategies before trial in negotiating a settlement, and if necessary, during trial to help ensure our clients get the best judgment possible.
So, how much is my case actually worth?
The bottom-line is that every single case is unique. We have been representing victims of accidents with serious injuries for over 40 years. We understand that each client has their own set of circumstances.
We must discuss the details with our client. Our attorneys will need to look at accident reports, video evidence (when available) and medical records.
We will often work with the top medical and liability experts to get a true understanding of the case.
If you believe you or a loved one has a case and are interested in the value of your case, scheduling a free consultation is the first step. We are here to FIGHT FOR YOU!
MINTZ & GEFTIC – New Jersey Personal Injury Law Firm
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We give personal attention to all our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, truck accident, rear end accident, pedestrian accident please call or text the best New Jersey injury lawyers today at 908-352-2323.
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Did you suffer injuries in a car accident while you were working? Call us today at 908-352-2323. Do you prefer contacting our injury lawyers via email, then please click here.
If you are a truck driver who was injured while working call us or text us today at 908-352-2323.
Prefer contacting our injury lawyers via email? Then please click here. Our injury lawyers serve clients throughout New Jersey. This includes the cities of Newark, Elizabeth, Union, Short Hills, Millburn, Livingston, and Jersey City. We cover Morris, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Union, and Middlesex counties. Our accident lawyers have offices in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Short Hills, New Jersey and in New York City.
We represent clients suffering with spinal cord injury, back injury, burn injury, broken bones, and traumatic brain injury.
If you are enduring physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, permanent disability, disfigurement, lost wages, medical expenses, or any other hardship resulting from a truck accident, car accident or pedestrian accident please contact us today for a free consultation.
Wan to understand if you have a case and how much your case might be worth? The first step is giving our office a call or texting us at 908-352-2323.4