Calculating the value of a personal injury claim is no easy feat. You may be wondering, How much is my personal injury claim worth? It will depend on multiple factors. An injury attorney will consider the severity of your injuries, whether you will require future medical care, and the insurance policies available to compensate you.
Each case is unique, and even when victims sustain similar injuries, the value of their injury claim may be vastly different. However, before an attorney can evaluate the value of your claim, they have to evaluate whether you even have a claim.
Personal Injury Claims In California
In California, a personal injury claim is a type of civil lawsuit. Your attorney would file the claim against the party whose negligence caused your injury. If your claim is successful, you can receive compensation from the negligent party for your injuries and losses. Almost any accident can warrant a personal injury claim if someone caused the accident through negligence and an injury occurred.
However, the initial stages of personal injury claims in California don’t start in court. Once your attorney has completed a preliminary investigation and determined who is at fault for your injury, they will write a demand letter.
The individual driver, homeowner, dog owner, doctor, or business owner who is at fault for your injury will seldom be directly involved with resolving the claim. More often than not, it’s their insurance company that takes the reins. Your attorney will send the letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
The letter will notify the insurance company of your intent to recover damages. The letter will contain information about why that person is liable, explain the extent of your injuries, and outline your request for compensation.
The insurance company can respond to this demand letter or ignore it. If your demand letter is unsuccessful, your attorney will create a legal claim for damages and serve it to the negligent party.
How To Win Your Personal Injury Claim
You may be wondering, How to win your personal injury claim? To win a personal injury case, you must prove someone caused your accident through negligence and that you suffered damages you can be compensated for. However, what most people think is negligent and what a court of law thinks is negligent can be very different. Negligence is a legal term and has very specific requirements. To prove negligence, you must prove the following elements:
- Duty—you must prove the at-fault party owed you a duty to exercise reasonable care;
- Breach—you must prove the at-fault party breached that duty;
- Causation—you must prove the breach of duty caused your injury; and
- Damages—you must prove that you suffered damages because of your injury.
The injured person bears the burden of proving all of these elements when they file a personal injury claim. If you successfully prove all four elements, you can receive compensation from the at-fault party. Allow us to explain each requirement in turn.
A “duty” is a legal obligation to act or not act in a certain way. For the most part, every person has a general duty not to act negligently. Said another way, everyone has a duty to exercise reasonable care. Reasonable care is the degree of care that an ordinary, prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. If a person does not exercise reasonable care, they likely have breached their duty.
Establishing that the at-fault party’s breach of duty caused your injury can be a little trickier. Usually, you will seek to prove causation by showing that if the at-fault party had not breached their duty of care, your injury would not have happened. Causation is a very complicated concept. The takeaway here is that causation means there is a relationship between someone’s breach of duty and the damage that occurred.
The term “damages” refers to the harm done as a result of negligence. There are some limits on how much you can receive in damages in certain cases. California law puts limits on the amount you can recover for a medical malpractice case, for example, while insurance companies are generally bound by policy limits.
Common damages sought in personal injury claims include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, scarring, physical impairment, and mental anguish. You are probably wondering, How much is my personal injury claim worth? Because each case is unique and every injury is different, there is no average claim value for any type of personal injury claim. An experienced attorney will be able to identify and calculate all of your damages and explain how much compensation you might be entitled to.
Evidence Needed For A Personal Injury Claim
There are many things you need to think about when planning a personal injury case, but one of the key aspects of a case is evidence. You may be wondering, Why is evidence needed for a personal injury claim? Presenting evidence will be the way you prove negligence.
Evidence also plays a role in determining the exact degree of fault each party will be assigned. California is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that you can still recover some compensation even if you were 99% at fault for your own injuries. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Evidence also helps you establish the severity of your injury and how much you should be awarded in damages. Even if you establish that someone else was at fault for your injuries, you still need to prove that you actually suffered injuries during the crash or fall. Medical evidence not only shows the court that your injuries are real, but it also shows them how severe your damages are and the exact cost of your treatment.
Exaggerated Personal Injury Claims
It’s probably not surprising that after filing an insurance claim, insurers will look for ways to discredit you and allege your claim is exaggerated. They will also use negotiation tactics to try and rattle you into accepting a smaller amount than you really deserve. More often than not, they will offer fast money before you know the total cost of your injury, hoping you will sign away your right to more.
There are a couple of things you should do when dealing with insurance companies for exaggerated personal injury claims:
- Stick to the facts. If the insurance company or the other party calls you and starts the conversation with, “How are you today?” don’t reply, “fine.” If you tell them you feel fine, they could use it against you.
- Avoid giving a recorded statement. The insurance company will find the one sentence that makes it sound like you are less injured than you genuinely are. You should always let your attorney speak with insurance companies and the other party on your behalf.
Most times, the insurance company will try to blame you for your own injury. It’s tough to deal with insurers, but with an experienced lawyer on your side, you will be able to negotiate for what your claim is really worth.
Los Angeles Personal Injury Law Firm
At Peerali Law, we believe that approaching every case with persistence and compassion is the best way to care for our clients. We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars in compensation, and we can fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. No matter how complex your case might be, our Los Angeles personal injury law firm can handle every step of the process so that you can focus on healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.