Determining a dollar value to a lawsuit can be a very difficult thing to do even though it’s the number one question that we get on an Illinois personal injury lawsuit. Many moving parts need to be examined before an attorney can answer the question, “How much is my case worth?”
The first determining factor is actual damages that occurred that can be monetized. In the case of a car accident, those damages go far beyond the simple cost of replacing or repairing the vehicle. Medical bills for instance are a big factor. The extent and longevity of your injury is another determining factor. If the accident has resulted in a life changing injury, your case could be worth more in a monetary result. Another factor that goes into the formula is if you lost work income due to recovery and treatment of those injuries, and how long you were out of work; if you have been cleared to return to work. How are these injuries going to affect your future, not only financially but your overall well being?
In some cases, the settlement offer will include up to three times the amount of medical bills and lost time from work (this is known as the “specials”) as a starting point, but that is a terrible way to negotiate a case. Everyone’s life is different and how your injury affects your life and will in the future is a really important part of the analysis. Even how your spouse is affected could be part of the settlement.
Additional factors to determining value of a case do include the financial side of the accident. Can the fault be placed on someone other than you for the accident? Is that fault clearly placed on the other party? If the answer to those questions is yes, the next factor is collectability of a settlement. If the other party does not have insurance the chance of a high settlement goes down, because it will be too difficult or nearly impossible for another person to pay the settlement. If they did have insurance, one of the components of the formula is their insurance policy limits.
Your attorney may suggest several different ways of coming up with a dollar amount to ask for before proceeding with settlement. Of course, settlement is a negotiation process, and this is not one you should try to do alone, without an attorney. There are potential future risks if you settle too low, and of course, there are risks for asking for a settlement that is unrealistic. Settling is often the better choice due to the potential of extra legal fees that will come out of any settlement recovery. Your attorney will also discuss any and all options before accepting a settlement on your behalf.
Ultimately though you must be happy with the settlement. That doesn’t mean you can be unreasonable and expect to get anywhere (e.g. if you broke your arm, but don’t have any long term problems and missed little to no time from work, asking for a million dollars would be a joke). At the same time, it’s your life and you shouldn’t take a low ball offer just to get the case done with. Once it’s settled, it’s over and you can’t go back months or years later and ask for more money.
If you have questions about what your case might be worth or just want to ask questions of one of our attorneys, call us at any time at (800) 517-1614. It’s always free and confidential.