Factors that Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Settlement
Here is a list of the most important factors that will affect the dollar value placed on your injury claim by an insurance company.
A whole host of variables go into putting a dollar value on an injury claim (there is even an injury damage formula that should give you a ballpark figure).
Obviously every case is different, but there are also a few common factors that tend to either increase or decrease the amount of compensation you can expect to receive in an insurance settlement or court-based lawsuit after an injury.
Compare the factors listed on this checklist with the real-world facts in your own case, and get a sense of how your compensation might be affected.
Factors That Affect Your Multiplier
In the most common formulas used to value a personal injury claim, a multiplier is applied to determine how much pain you suffered as a result of your injuries -- the more pain, the higher the settlement offer. The following factors will guide an insurance adjuster or defense attorney toward a "fair" multiplier. (To better understand how the multiplier is used, see this page).
Factors that indicate that a higher multiplier might be applied to calculation of your medical expenses:
- hard injury -- meaning a broken bone; head injury, joint injury, wounds, vertebrae injury, nerve damage
- medical expenses that are primarily for treatment
- medical treatment by a medical doctor, clinic, or hospital -- see The "Right" Medical Treatment Increases the Settlement Value of an Injury Claim
- prescribed medication related to the injury
- long-term injury treatment period
- long recovery period
- permanent injury -- such as a scar, stiffness, weakness, or loss of mobility
- physical or emotional distress resulting from the injury, and
- daily life disruptions -- missed school or training, missed vacation or recreation, canceled special event.
Factors that indicate that a lower multiplier may be applied to calculation of your medical expenses:
- soft tissue injury -- such as sprain, strain, or bruise
- a large part of your medical expenses are for diagnosis rather than for treatment
- medical treatment by non-M.D. providers
- no medication has been prescribed in connection with your injury
- only brief medical treatment (a few visits to the doctor, for example)
- a short recovery period for your injuries
- no residual or permanent injury, and
- no physical or emotional problems other than original injury.
Other Factors That Affect Compensation
After the settlement formula is applied, the opposing party will look at the other legal and practical issues that help or hurt the overall strength of your case.
Factors likely to get you higher compensation after the formula is applied include:
- no shared fault for the accident on your part
- your organization and calmness in connection with the claims and settlement process
- the insured on the other side is not credible or sympathetic
- witnesses who bolster your case, and
- some “dramatic” advantage.
Factors likely to get you lower compensation after the formula is applied include:
- A finding that you shared some of the blame for the accident or your injuries -- see Shared Blame: Comparative and Contributory Fault for a Personal Injury
- disorganization or impatience on your part
- a sympathetic insured on the other side, and
- no witnesses that bolster your side of the case, or witnesses who favor the insured.
This checklist is an excerpt from How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim by Attorney Joseph Matthews (Nolo).