This question is common and also very important. The more accurately we can estimate the value of your claim, the more ammunition we have against the insurance company when they try to undervalue your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. Over the years, we've gotten very good at calculating both tangible costs (medical bills, property damage, missed work days, etc.) and intangible costs (emotional trauma, lost sleep, loss of life enjoyment, and so on).
Unfortunately, it's hard to estimate your specific claim's value without speaking with you directly. If you'd like to discuss your case with a lawyer, I offer free, no-obligation consultations. In the meantime, this article covers the questions we use to determine the value of each of our client's cases.
Who Caused the Accident?
Is one person or company clearly at-fault? Using car wrecks as an example, we sometimes see that one driver caused the wreck and is 100 percent at-fault. Other times, fault can be split between the two drivers. If you're even slightly to blame for the accident, it will devalue your case. (You can learn more in my article about fault here).
Did You Go Straight to the Doctor?
The sooner you saw a doctor after your accident, the better. Sometimes, people choose to wait and see if they'll heal on their own, but this is a mistake. The longer you wait to seek medical attention after your accident, the worse it looks to the insurance companies. They'll use the gap as an argument against you by saying things like, "You must not really be that hurt if you didn't go right to the doctor."
If you did delay treatment, all's not lost. We recently handled a case where a client waited a year and a half before seeking treatment and were able to win her a successful settlement. In cases like these, success is possible, but it is more difficult.
Have You Been a "Good Patient?"
Patients are expected to follow their doctor's advice and not miss any appointments. Having unexplained gaps in treatment hurts the value of your case because the other side can once again argue that you "weren't that hurt." If you want to help the value of your case, you must do everything the doctor orders and if you need to miss an appointment, reschedule immediately.
I talk more on this subject at length in my article here.
How Serious Are Your Injuries?
As you might have guessed, the bigger your injuries, the more your case is worth. Some other questions to ask are did your injuries heal well, or are you left with scars? Do you have any lasting physical limitations? Did you have any broken bones? Surgeries? Is there physical evidence, such as MRIs, CT scans or x-rays, that demonstrate the damage done? Also, what about future medical treatment? If you'll need ongoing medical treatment or physical therapy, your case will be worth more.
Similarly, the severity of your disability or disfigurement affects the value of your case. If you are permanently disabled, then compensation for "future" damages is necessary. Also, scars are lifetime reminders of the tragic accident. You can be compensated for that.
Did You Miss Work Because of Your Injuries?
In Texas, you have a right to compensation for missed work days and lost earnings. Similarly, if you're unable to return to work you can recover compensation for your lost earning capacity. Missed work has to be supported by your employer or if you are self-employed, by your tax returns.
How Strong Is Your Evidence?
Solid evidence is vital in building your case. According to the law, you can't just point fingers and blame the other side for causing your injuries. You have to prove that the accident was their fault, and also that the accident caused your injuries. Then, you'll need to show the negative impact your injuries have had on your finances and your life. Do you have pictures from the accident scene? Testimonies showing the important life events you missed? Did you suffer financial problems due to medical bills and missing work? Did your marital relations suffer?
You can learn more about this topic in my article, The Importance of Documenting Your Accident Claim.