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How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?


Home » Helpful Houston Personal Injury Information » How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?

One question we hear frequently is: How much is my personal injury case worth?

When asked at the outset of a case, it is a question that is almost impossible for any personal injury attorney to answer accurately.

how much is my personal injury case worth


Every case has three main issues that need to be addressed to get a value range on a case’s worth. How much a case is actually worth is something that years of experience have honed for many personal injury attorneys.

The first issue – Liability

The first concern is who is at fault for causing the injury. This is the first area of inquiry. Because Texas is a shared-fault state and not a no-fault state. The inquiry stops here unless the other party is at least 51% at fault.

Another way to consider this is through the one-sentence method – ask: 

What did the other person do wrong?

He ran the red light, was drunk while driving, failed to yield the right-of-way, the product was dangerous, or I was hit by a truck driver -things of that nature.

While liability is the first area of inquiry, it is important to note that other factors regarding liability are considered in coming up with the case’s value.

If the driver was drunk during the accident, potentially punitive damages might enter the equation. If facts or inactions were so outrageous or calculated to be very unpalatable to a jury, the liability factor could increase the value of the case.

Truck accident claims pay higher settlements mainly because the injuries tend to be more severe, and trucker safety regulations are frequently broken. A truck accident investigation usually uncovers the violations of regulations.

Alternatively, if the case is extremely difficult to prove liability, that must be considered when addressing the value of a personal injury case. Also, the cost of proving the case must be considered. After all, a lawyer has to agree to take the case; at the end of the day, the case must net the victim money. 

A victim may have difficulty getting a lawyer if the damages are slight and the costs are high, like a product liability claim.

The second issue is damages.

The next area that personal injury attorneys use to value a case is that of damages. Damages refer to legally recoverable losses recognized under Texas law.

For personal injury, the basic questions asked of the jury are as follows:

Physical pain and mental anguish.

* Loss of earning capacity.

* Disfigurement.

* Physical impairment.

* Medical care expenses.

We will address these areas one at a time:

A. Pain and Suffering

This is the element of damage that is probably the single most important and also the most misunderstood. These are “human damages” and can vary greatly from jury to jury.

If the medical evidence is such that the victim suffered greatly and had a difficult time with recovery, then the pain and suffering should be a significant element of that case. On the other hand, if the evidence shows that the victim sustained a “whiplash” type injury and recovered quickly, the damages would be valued accordingly.

A good way to look at valuing pain and suffering is to assume you are on a jury, did not want to be there, and did not know the parties. Ask:

How much would you award a stranger?

This requires objectivity, separate from the personal injury victim standing in their own shoes and realizing that there are always two sides to every story!

B. Lost Wages

This is fairly straightforward in that the number of lost wages can sometimes be very easily calculated, such as when a doctor orders the patient not to work for a certain period. Even then, if the amounts add up to significant lost wages, expect a counterargument from the insurance defense attorney.

In Texas, the lost wages are supposed to be calculated on a net income tax basis, which does not make the personal injury victim completely whole.

C. Physical Scars

Disfigurement claims are those damages that relate to a condition or a physical scar that resulted from the accident. Loss of a limb, finger, or permanent scar would be valued under this damaging element.

D. Medical Expenses

The law in Texas was changed recently under “tort reform,” which substantially impacted all personal injury damage cases in the state. One of the most significant changes to the law was that of “paid or incurred” medical expenses.

Juries can consider the amount of “paid or incurred” medical expenses, not gross billing. In effect, what this means is that your out-of-pocket expenses plus that which your health insurance company actually paid would be appropriate for reimbursement. If you did not have health insurance, then it would be the gross billing of the medical expenses necessary to treat the injury, less any write-offs.

Unfortunately for Texas families, tort reform left them holding the bag because they were never compensated for being responsible and carrying health insurance.

If you get hit by a drunk driver in Texas, and your medical bills are reduced because you were responsible and caring for health insurance, you pay for the insurance, and the drunk driver gets the benefit of your responsibility.

It is important to note that the burden is on the plaintiff to prove their damages. In most cases, the most important damage testimony will be that of a treating physician. What your doctors say about your recovery and future prognosis can be very powerful evidence for a personal injury claim. A typical car accident injury claim would involve the deposition of a treating doctor.

Some doctors are more credible than others, and in more serious cases, defense attorneys usually hire doctors routinely paid for by the insurance industry.

Those insurance defense doctors are rarely objective and almost always testify after an IME that the injured victim is either exaggerating or is not hurt as badly as suggested and that most medical treatments were unnecessary.

The third issue is the ability to pay.

Unfortunately, there are many instances where liability is crystal clear, and the damages are excessive, but inadequate insurance covers the tab.

Collecting money outside an insurance policy is extremely difficult in Texas, and the ability to pay realistically means how much insurance coverage is available for the case.

Collecting a judgment from an individual when there is no insurance coverage is extremely difficult in Texas, and in many cases, a person may be able to file for bankruptcy and wipe out any judgment that may have been obtained.

Large corporations may be self-insured, so the ability to pay may not be an issue for most personal injury verdicts against big companies. But, in every other case, the amount of insurance must be considered.

Other factors that impact personal injury case value

There are many other factors that personal injury lawyers consider in the value of a claim. How well the victim may relate to a jury is one factor. Another factor might be the defendant’s demeanor, age, or other facts. For example, punitive damages may be appropriate if a drunk driver injures you.

To some extent, a jury trial may be a popularity contest, and the credibility of any person, whether a plaintiff or defendant, can cause a scale to tip one way or the other.

Additionally, whom the plaintiff retains as counsel and the defense attorney handling the case can impact the case’s value. Here is an article for those wanting to negotiate a car accident injury claim without a lawyer.

In short, it isn’t easy to accurately assess the case’s value before all the facts are known. Certainly, a careful review of the medical evidence is necessary to understand the extent and nature of the injuries when a personal injury claim is being valued.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at Baumgartner Law Firm in Houston for Help!

If you have questions about a personal injury claim that happened in Houston, contact a personal injury lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm for a FREE consultation.

Baumgartner Law Firm

6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069

For a No-Obligation Consultation, Call (281) 587-1111!

Or fill out the contact us form!

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About Our Law Firm

Baumgartner Law Firm is a Houston personal injury law firm headed by Greg Baumgartner.

Our firm was established in 1985 and has helped thousands of injury victims get maximum compensation for their cases. If you have been injured in an accident in Houston, TX, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. (281) 587-1111.

Helping these areas around Houston

Houston, Sugar LandConroeThe WoodlandsCypressSpring,  Atascocita, KingwoodTomball and across Texas.