How Can I determine the Potential Money Value of My Claim?

Let’s make this clear from the beginning. There is no such thing as a personal injury settlement formula. There is no insurance settlement calculator. There is no magic equation of “x times specials” that determines the proper settlement payout for your case.

You can keep Googling until you are blue in the face. But you will never find it. Any lawyer that suggests otherwise does not understand civil tort cases.

But there is real information that can help you better understand the settlement value of your case.

Valuing cases is hard. Our system of civil justice requires juries to monetize injuries in accident cases. But injuries are just not readily converted to a specific monetary value. So, ultimately, the best that we can hope for is narrowing down a settlement range that your case will fall into within a 90% confidence interval.

Three Times Medical Bills and Other Ready Made Formulas

Many people are desperate for a settlement formula and the urge is to assume that the appropriate payout for settlement may be some multiple of the special damages. But if it is, it is largely a coincidence. A settlement that works is because it is fair based on what a jury would award you because of what you went through from the accident – your pain, your suffering, your bills – not because it is the result of some pre-ordained mathematical formula. The real end game to value is not a calculation but an estimate of what a jury might award in the case. There is one thing we can tell you without equivocation: juries don’t use math algorithms to compute value.

So, in some cases, a settlement that is three times medical bills and lost wages (called together “specials” is an awful “they stole from you” resolution. In other claims, it is a fantastic result. This is how it should be. Let’s beat the dead horse one more time before we move on: The idea that you can use some multiplier of the medical bills to determine how much money a judge or jury would award simply makes no sense.

Below, we explain just how cases get valued. If you want a lawyer for your claim, call us. We have an undeniable record of success. If you want to discuss your claim with us, call (404) 635-1112 (Atlanta) or you can get free on-line consultation. Keep in mind we handle only serious injury and wrongful death cases. Most of our cases are in Georgia. We accept about a handful of cases outside of Georgia each year.

Why Settlement Multiplier Talk Actually Decreases the Value of Your Case

Attorneys trying to get the best compensation possible for their clients need to avoid the temptation to engage in the slippery slope of talking to insurance adjusters in “___ times specials” terms. Why? Because there is no formula to calculate settlement value. A traffic collision case is worth what a judge or jury would give the Plaintiff and there are about 10 variables far more important to this calculus than any settlement calculator or formula.

Okay, but why it is actually harmful to talk to insurance companies like this? Insurance adjusters deal with a lot of lawyers. Some who know exactly what they are doing and others who do not have a clue how to properly position an accident case to maximize the value of that case. (You can guess for yourself the relative proportions of those who know what they are talking about and those without a clue. The real truth is depressing.)

When attorneys use formula talk, they are telegraphing to the claims adjuster that you are looking at your client as simply a number that is a part of a formula, not a person. Attorneys that talk in “times specials” math like there is some theorem are not the same advocates that read and evaluate the medical records… or take cases to a jury. Insurance companies take advantage of that. Quick. We are experienced trial lawyers.

Sure, in very small whiplash injury type cases, a multiplier type formula will be correct in many of these claims. Still, even in those small soft tissue whiplashes type cases, tossing around formulas and calculators will send a loud message to the adjuster that will forever mark the lawyer as an inexperienced advocate who is not able to fight the fight their clients need. This makes for a smaller settlement offer in this case and the next one.

Settlement Formulas in Disguise

One thing insurance companies – thinking particularly of Nationwide nd State Farm Insurance – have been doing of late is pitching offers in terms of how much more they are paying than the medical bills and lost wages. Someone smart came up with this because it is like calling something $9.99 instead of $10.00. It just sounds more palatable to say, “We are offering $50,000 more than the special damages” than saying “this offer is 1.8 times the medical bills plus lost wages.” But, really, it is the same thing as a monetary compensation formula. Regardless of how it is packaged, it is nonsense.

Is There a Way to Figure Out the Value of My Case?

You are not going to find the exact value of your case on-line. You need a professional evaluation of the facts of your case to get an ideal of the reasonable value of your claim. There are a lot of variables at play and there may be reasons why your case is worth much more – or much less – than these statistics suggest. The take home message is clear: median and average settlement value data is great. But it will not calculate your settlement for you and does not take the place of a professional analysis of your case. Also keep in mind that many times, the insurance company will believe you are entitled to a full payout of their entire policy. But unless they know you can file a lawsuit – which almost invariably means retaining counsel – they have little incentive to make a fair offer for your injuries. So if you want to get the true amount of compensation the case is worth, you may have to fight for it.

Finding a Lawyer for Your Serious Injury Case

Our attorneys look at cases on the merits of each case. We handle only serious injury claims. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or wrongful death as the result of the negligence of someone else, we would be glad to talk to you about your case to see if we believe we can add real value to your claim. Call our lawyers at (404) 635-1112 (Atlanta) or get a free Internet consultation. We are advocates for justice and it is our mission to serve you no matter who or where you are! Contact us 24/7.

What is the value of a serious personal injury case?

There are many factors that can affect the value of a case, and more importantly, how much money you will actually get to compensate you for what you have gone through. The settlement value of a case is a prediction of what a jury will decide your claim is worth. Different juries will arrive at different verdicts under the same set of circumstances.

Jurors have their own personal biases that can either help or hurt you. This unpredictably leads to a wide range of results. So, for settlement purposes, we guess at what we think the jury would award. The settlement value of a claim increases over time. More than 95% of the time, the value of a case will increase from the time before suit is filed to the time of trial. We have had cases where the pretrial offer was more than 50 times the pre-suit offer.

This is particularly true in medical mistake cases. These are virtually impossible to settle without filing a lawsuit. In other injury cases, we have settled cases for over a million dollars when the pre-suit offer was zero.

Who decides whether to settle the case? Our attorneys present the facts to the client and let them make the call. There are two choices: (1) settle the case, or (2) move forward with the litigation process.

Studies Looking at Value of Personal Injury Cases

There is data available to give victims some idea of the size of personal injury awards in Georgia. The nationwide median jury award in a personal injury case was approximately $40,000 and plaintiffs win 48% of jury trials. The average personal injury verdict, as opposed to the median verdict, is $985,675.

Verdicts in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits

We have earned millions of dollars for our clients by fighting every single case like it was the Super Bowl. Can we help you? Call 404-635-1112 (Atlanta) or get a free online consultation.

Jury verdicts may vary from one county to the next using the same facts and injuries. However, clearly the larger jury awards in Georgia are in our biggest urban city and counties (City of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb County).

Note that our very best cases generally settle out-of-court. Insurance companies like settling the best cases and letting the weaker cases got to trial.

Having quality counsel does often make a difference. Insurance companies need to understand there are repercussions for offering a deal that is not fair. You need an advocate they know is

coming after them and looking for a big verdict. Paradoxically, attorneys that frequently try cases and get big verdicts are the same ones getting the best confidential settlements that no one ever hears about.

So if you have a good case, get experienced counsel with a track record who is willing to fight for you. This is your best change of pushing past the verdict and settlement averages listen above. That data include cases handled by lawyers who do not have a clue about how to handle a tort case and, maybe worse, people without law degrees acting as their own attorneys.

The Factors That Matter in Personal Injury Cases

As we have said above, verdict statistics and our firms success in obtaining favorable settlements or trial judgments is not predictive of the results in any individual case. It sounds cliché but…. your case is unique. Figuring out what a settlement payout or verdict would be is not something you can determine using some advanced calculus formula.

You need to discuss with your lawyer the specific facts of your case and the possible defenses to your claim. Then, you can come to a conclusion about what is acceptable to resolve your case.

This discussion with your advocates will include:

  • the type of injuries you suffered
  • the economic damages (lost wages and medical bills)
  • the amount of available insurance
  • how clear the causal connection is between your injuries and the accident
  • how strong your liability case is
  • the quality of all of the witnesses
  • the expected jury perceptions of you and the defendant
  • how your pain and suffering from the injuries have impacted your life

What does not matter? A lot of things that you really care about should count for settlement value but simply do not:

  • You could have died (what matters is what did happen)
  • You have gotten behind in paying your bills
  • How you couldn’t buy a new car with the money you got for your property damage
  • All of the things that could have happened during surgery but didn’t
  • Medical problems you could have that are not likely to occur

These things are not admissible at trial and the adjuster will not consider them in determining how much money they should offer. Is this fair? No. What do you do? You fight harder to get compensation for those things that you can get compensated for at trial: your medical bills (even if they have been paid), your lost wages, and, most importantly in every case we handle, your pain and suffering.

We already touched on the other huge variable that the insurance company considers right from the beginning: the location of the trial. In Georgia, Fulton and DeKalb’s County are favorable venues for plaintiffs. Conversely, in more rural areas of Georgia the awards are more conservative. This is true not just in Georgia but throughout the United States — jury awards are typically higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

How the Insurance Companies Determine Value in Accident Cases?

In motor vehicle crash claims, most of the insurance companies our lawyers deal with use computer software to determine the value of claims. They don’t care about you, your agony, your pain and suffering, or the tragedy of you never being yourself again. They care about hanging on to their money. There is no sense getting mad about it. You just have to find someone willing to buckle up their chin straps and fight for you.

Most insurers use a computer system called Colossus or a similar program. The insurance adjuster inputs the data from your case and it spits out a range of settlement outcomes.

Colossus then specifically looks to the causes of your pain as described in your medical records. One of the most important questions is whether the injuries are permanent. The computer gives higher values for objective injuries like broken bones and herniated discs than for soft tissue injuries. Colossus also gives greater value when the patient went to the hospital for initial treatment immediately after the collision.

While Colossus and similar programs do have some value, the problem is they cannot grasp the complexity of a human’s pain and suffering. There is no computer that can ascertain pain and suffering or how an injury really impacted a person’s life. How much is it worth to not be able to pick up your newborn baby without extreme pain? There is no way a computer can answer this question. Colossus does not really try to bake that into its settlement payout. It just assumes pain is not really a big inconvenience.

This is why your counsel must fully explain to the insurance company why your injuries are different or be prepared to file a lawsuit to obtain fair value for your case. When your lawyer files a lawsuit, the insurance companies will sometimes take a second look at the real trial value of the case, particularly when they know that the attorneys handling the case are willing to go to trial.

While Colossus cannot appreciate pain, suffering and the true impact of the injury on the victim, judges and juries tend to listen to and consider many of the factors that Colossus ignores because it does not understand them. It is only a formula. Juries make distinctions on how much your case is worth based upon whether or not they think the plaintiff is an honest, good person who has suffered as a result of their injuries.

Clearly, the true value of the same injury can vary. If your injury is a scar on your face, the value will depend on the Plaintiff. Sex, age, pride in appearance, are going to matter in determining how much money you are going to get for your case.

The same goes for ankle and leg injuries where the victim can no longer run. If you are a couch potato, the value is less than the client who can tell a jury they ran a marathon last year. These details matter to every juror. But the computer tunes them out completely.

Juries are actually the polar opposite of computers. Juries respond to human pain and agony. A algebraic equation responds to raw data.

Let’s take the mom who used to be a shopaholic with her three kids but now cannot get off a bench at the mall — or even get to the mall — because of the harm that has been caused to her. A computer cannot understand or calculate this kind of impact on a person. Thankfully, the real decider is not a computer but human beings. They understand all too well what real human suffering is (and what it is not).

Picking a Lawyer: Why It Matters So Much Even for Settlement

This bears repeating. Claims adjusters and even their computers consider whether your attorney has a history of winning at trial. They also look to see if plaintiff’s counsel settles all of their personal injury cases (or has no history at all). This is an important reason why the quality of your attorney matters even if you intend to settle your case without filing a lawsuit.

Our law firm handles serious personal injury cases. If you have been hurt, or a loved one has been tragically killed by someone else’s negligence, call to speak to one of our attorneys at (404) 635-1112 (Atlanta) or get for a free no obligation consultation.

How much time do I have to bring my claim without it being forever barred?

The Georgia statute of limitations for most personal injury auto accident related claims is two years. (One notable exception: claims against the state of Georgia or local municipalities can be 1 year or shorter.) This rule applies to medical malpractice claims and product liability claims in Georgia. While there is discovery rule in Georgia, there is a five year statute of repose in medical malpractice cases. The statute of repose is harsh: it can bar a claim before the claim even accrues because it is before the injury occurs.

What damages can I recover for the wrongful death of a loved one?

The damages recoverable in a Georgia wrongful death action include the victim’s expected earnings, or the value of the victim’s services, from the date of the victim’s death due to negligence to the statistically projected date of natural death (using life tables), plus an intangible element representing the full value of the life to the victim.

Is there a cap on the amount of personal injury damages I can recover for my injuries?

Like many states during the “medical malpractice crisis” in the middle of this decade, the Georgia Legislature in 2005 imposed a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits of $350,000. A trial judge in Fulton County, Georgia has struck down Georgia’s cap in medical malpractice cases, if in fact in the legislature’s cap of $350,000 for noneconomic damages was unconstitutional in its affording of special protections to doctors. At the time of this writing, the Georgia Supreme Court had heard arguments in this case and is expected to render a ruling. In Georgia auto accident and product liability cases, Georgia does not have a cap on noneconomic damages.

Can I punish a person for their reckless conduct that lead to my injuries?

Georgia law provides for punitive damages for wanton conduct: “wanton conduct is that which is so reckless or so charged with indifference to the consequences as to be the equivalent in spirit to actual intent.” This includes conscious indifference to consequences, which is an intentional disregard of the rights of another, or knowingly or willfully disregarding such rights. Georgia law caps punitive damages at $250,000.00 unless the party acted with specific intent to harm. Punitive damages may only be awarded in auto accident cases or other tort claims when proven by clear and convincing evidence (as opposed to the preponderance of evidence).

I was involved in a hit and run accident, can I recover for my damages?

Under Georgia’s uninsured motorist statute, there must be physical contact between the vehicles unless the evidence is corroborated by an eyewitness to the pedestrian or car accident other than the claimant. Under this interesting rule, the Plaintiff cannot allege a phantom vehicle caused an accident where there was no impact with the phantom vehicle, unless there is an independent eye witness. The purpose of the rule is to eliminate “he said/”phantom said” uninsured motorist cases where there is no evidence beyond the word of the victim.

What are the elements of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

There are three elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia: the doctor’s duty to his patient; the doctor’s breach of that duty through the failure to exercise the requisite degree of skill and care; and an injury proximately caused by the doctor’s failure.

How much can I rely on the information contained in this website?

Please remember that only individuals who have you have signed a retainer agreement with our law firm are our clients or have an attorney-client relationship with our law firm or any individual personal injury lawyers. The data is informational and may have changed or may be inaccurate given the nuances of your individual case. These general rules cited above often have exceptions that could and do fill an entire book. The only way to verify whether the general information on Georgia accident law applies to your case is to contact a personal injury lawyer in Georgia (we are Georgia lawyers) and lay out all of the facts of your case.