There are numerous factors that can affect the value of a personal injury claim. Each personal injury case has its own set of unique circumstances. Thus, personalized attention should be given to each claim. Below are some factors that could affect the settlement value or verdict in a personal injury case.
Liability/Fault: Florida is a comparative fault state. That means the fault of each party is taken into consideration. Liability can be allocated between multiple parties. If the injured victim is deemed partly at fault for the accident, recovery can be reduced by the percentage of his fault. In other situations, liability can actually add value to an injury case when the behavior of the at-fault party is careless or reckless. An example of careless driving is texting while driving resulting in personal injury. An example of reckless driving, which is a criminal offense, is driving under the influence resulting in personal injury or death.
Insurance Coverage: The primary factor that determines the value of a case are the injuries sustained and the damages that flow from those injuries. Consideration is given to the serious nature of the injuries, whether they are permanent and continuing, past and future medical care, out of pocket expenses and the effect the injuries will have on a person’s life. Will that person be able to lead a normal life, engage in the same activities as he or she did before, work/earn a living? An attorney must look at all factors that have a bearing on the value of the case. While determining the value of the claim, the attorney looks at the available insurance coverage. Hopefully, the at fault party carried adequate bodily injury coverage. If not, then the injured party must look to his under-insured/uninsured motorist coverage to satisfy his damages after accepting the underlying coverage from the at fault party. If the at fault party only carried $10,000 bodily injury coverage and the claimant has catastrophic injuries, the underlying $10,000 coverage will be recovered and then a claim will be made under the injured parties insurance (if coverage is available).
Medical Bills: When evaluating a personal injury case, past and future medical bills are factors that are considered. If an injury victim receives $2,500 or less in treatment, the case will have a restricted value. Insurance companies carefully evaluate medical bills, assuming the more severe an injury is, the more treatment required. In most cases, failure to follow the doctor’s treatment recommendations will have an adverse effect on the case value. All reasonable and necessary treatment recommendations should be followed.
Diagnosis of Injuries: Diagnosis of injuries is another factor that affects the value of a case. Diagnostic testing such as X-rays and MRI’s can help diagnose certain injuries. Objective testing is invaluable to a provider and to the injury claim as well. They help diagnose injuries to bones, tendons, ligaments, discs, organs, etc. The test results assist the doctor in being able to relate the injuries to the accident and serve as an objective tool for the adjuster to evaluate the claim.
Medical Treatment: The type of treatment obtained by an accident victim can also affect the claim. For example, if a car accident victim goes to a Chiropractor and uses up the PIP coverage without seeking necessary neurological evaluation or pain management, that could pose a problem. The severity of an accident victim’s injuries is evaluated by the amount and type of medical treatment received after an accident. Further, if the injury is permanent in nature, consistent medical treatment from appropriate providers before the impairment is assigned, can enhance the value of the claim.
Lack of Consistency In Treatment: If an accident victim fails to treat on a consistent basis, the records will reflect “no show” or failure of the patient to follow physician recommendations. This will be reflected in the final report written by the physician and may even affect the impairment rating assigned to the parties injuries.
We have listed a few factors that can have a direct effect on the value of a personal injury case. It is important to seek professional legal assistance if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence. The Law Office of Laurie D. Mitchell has been helping Gainesville personal injury and car accident victims for almost 30 years. Call Laurie today for your free consultation (352) 371-9828.