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What is Your Personal Injury Case Worth in Vermont?

personal-injury-lawyer-explaining-settlement

What is Your Personal Injury Case Worth in Vermont?

personal-injury-lawyer-explaining-settlement

By Steven A. Bredice, Esq., Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist

Every personal injury case has a “value.”  Although you and your circumstances are unique, your accident-related injury lawsuit will have features, characteristics and qualities that make it possible to compare your case’s settlement value to other similar cases that have recently either settled or been tried to verdict in Vermont.

Like appraising a house or a car, a personal injury lawsuit can be evaluated based on features it has in common with other cases that have resolved.  While imperfect, this is a critical process because without a predictive analysis of the case there would be no way to make informed decisions about when to settle and for how much.

Even though inadequate insurance coverage will always cap your recovery no matter how bad your damages might be, cases are worth what a jury would be expected to find for you in court, with due consideration for:

1) The risk of either losing your case outright or receiving a recovery that is lower than expected;

2) The increased expenses associated with litigation, such as filing fees, court reporters for depositions, expert witnesses, and litigation expenses, such as copying costs, postage, travel, lodging, and meals;

3) And the “time-value” of money. For example, a certain sum today can be worth as much in real terms as a larger amount received in the future, since it takes 2-5 years to bring a case through trial and even longer if there is an appeal, and longer still if the appeal is followed by a re-trial.

This analysis is played out against a legal backdrop in which the various procedures and evidentiary standards applicable in a court trial are taken into account in order to predict the outcome, and this figure is discounted by the three factors above.   For now, let’s assume your case is a straightforward one without complicated liability or damages issues.

Factors that increase the value of a personal injury case

 


“Value drivers” for Plaintiffs are:

  • Personal impression & credibility
  • The nature of the injury (graphic “objective” injuries like lacerations and broken bones versus “soft-tissue” injuries…)

 

  • Initial, consistent, continuing and full disclosure to all providers of all injuries and symptoms regarding all areas of injury
  • Medical bills clearly related to the accident
  • Pain and suffering, especially when it can be documented
  • Lost wages
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Permanent impairment
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, especially when the Plaintiff can no longer pursue or is limited in pursuing previously enjoyed hobbies, sports, artistic callings or family activities
  • Jurisdictional demographic characteristics
  • Prompt retention of and cooperation with competent legal counsel

Factors that decrease the value of your personal injury case

Conversely, the “value killers” traditionally relied on by insurance companies and Defense lawyers include:

  • Lack of credibility & consistency
  • Lack of demonstrably severe and objective injuries
  • Lack of initial, consistent, continuing and full disclosure to all providers of all injuries and symptoms regarding all areas of injury
  • Preexisting/subsequent injuries
  • Failure to mitigate the effects of injuries through delays in treatment, failure to follow doctors’ orders or the premature pursuit of activities that can aggravate an accident-related injury
  • Failure to mitigate economic damages by not replacing lost income to the extent possible without impairing recovery
  • Delay in retaining or failing to cooperate with counsel
  • Retention of inexperienced or ineffective counsel

This somewhat simplified discussion is not intended to enable you to value your case.  Rather, my intention is help you understand the way the insurance company will analyze and value it.  Without specific knowledge about the jurisdictional, demographic, and psychological factors – things that are the stock-in-trade of the career trial lawyer – it is likely an unrepresented individual would be at a severe disadvantage to the insurance companies. These organizations have teams of local defense lawyers they rely upon in their assessments of the specific effects of specific elements in a specific jurisdiction at a specific time.

If the insurance company has a better grip on valuation than you do, guess who loses?

In light of the last two items on the “value killer” list – waiting to hire an attorney or retaining an inexperienced or ineffective one — the questions of whether you need a lawyer and if so, how to choose one, become absolutely paramount.

Have You Been Injured In An Accident?


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Steven A. Bredice