Valuing Personal Injury Accident Cases
The first question our clients have is what is the settlement or trial value of my case? This article answers that question. This is the place to research the value of YOUR claim.
Values of Serious Personal Injury Cases
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.
More Case Value Information
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. (You can find a few examples here.)
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 Maryland. 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 Maryland Personal Injury Lawsuits
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In Maryland cases, the median compensation award in personal injury trials was $12,813. The median motor vehicle accident claim in Maryland was $11,925. That probably sounds awful. But, as we explain below, these numbers are very deceptive.
The good news for Maryland victims is that the plaintiff prevailed in 69% of the cases (as opposed to 55% nationally). Traffic collision cases had an every higher rate of victory: 83%
In contrast, plaintiffs prevailed in only 8% of medical malpractice cases in Maryland (bearing in mind that most meritorious cases often settle before trial) but the average jury award in medical malpractice cases was $808,772. The average payout in a medical malpractice - whether a verdict or a settlement - was $374,121 in 2013.
The study does not breakdown these jury verdicts by county, but clearly the larger jury awards in Maryland are in our biggest urban city and P.G County.
Miller & Zois' Results in Personal Injury Cases
If the data above is discouraging, you might be comforted to know that our firm's average is over 20 times that of the Maryland average. We rarely lose. We have won over 98% of the cases we have taken to trial. We have won over 80% of our medical malpractice claims compared to the state average of 8%. We have won 5 of our last 6 closed medical malpractice cases in a row (one is on appeal) as of August 25, 2014 while the state average is far below 50%.
More importantly, this is just the cases we have had to take the trial. 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... and has a history of getting those big verdicts. 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 law firm's history of big verdicts 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 Maryland, Baltimore City and Prince George's County are favorable venues for plaintiffs. Conversely, in more rural areas of Maryland the awards are more conservative. This is true not just in Maryland 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.
Tips on Each Insurance Company
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. It just assumes it 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
We are probably beating a dead horse here. But 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 800-553-8082 or get for a free no obligation consultation.
Values of Specific Injuries
- Average Paraplegia Verdicts
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Disc Injury Verdicts
- Foot, Ankle and Leg
- Cancer Misdiagnosis Verdicts
- Burn Injuries
- Rotator Cuff
- Vertebrae Fractures
- Fractured Back
- Facial Scarring
- Fractured Hip
- Wrist and Hand Injuries
Truck Accident Cases
Car and Motorcycle Accident Cases
Malpractice, Premises Liability and Product Liability Cases
- Learn More About the Value of Specific Malpractice Claims
- How Medical Malpractice Cases Are Valued?
- Get Sample Verdicts in Maryland Malpractice Cases
- Nursing Home Claims
- Premises Liability (Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia)
- Dog Bite Cases (examples of settlements and verdicts and statistics on outcomes)
- Product Liability Verdicts (median value of products cases by type of product)
- Legal Malpractice (settlements and verdicts against lawyers in legal malpractice cases in Maryland, Washington, D.C, and Virginia)
- Wrongful death
- Car accident
- Nursing home
- Medication errors
- How value is different in each different jurisdiction:
- New York (average personal injury jury verdicts)
- California (average personal injury jury verdicts)
- More data on California personal injury settlements
- Washington D.C.
- Older Texas verdict data
- Kansas City
- North Carolina
- More information you can use of valuing personal injury claims
- You May Be Entitled to More Lost Wages Than You Think
- Handling Your Motor Vehicle Claim Without Hiring Counsel: tips on proceeding without a lawyer
- Settlement of Personal Injury Accident Claims: more information on the settlement of personal injury cases
- Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): personal injury victim FAQ's
- Everything a Personal Injury Victim Needs to Know
- Is There a Formula to Calculate Personal Injury Accident Settlement Value: discussion of whether there is a formula to calculate settlements
If You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
We handle personal injury accident and malpractice cases in Maryland but also throughout the country. If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed as the result of the negligence of someone else, call us now at 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation.