Frequently Asked Questions - What is Your Personal Injury or Car Accident Case Worth?
Every personal injury claim is different, no matter if you were in the same accident in the same vehicle as someone, your settlement amount and the value of your claim can be completely different. Time and time again, people who are dissatisfied with the settlement offer the insurance company is making refers to a friend or family member who settled their claim for a drastically higher amount. Each claim is unique in their own way and settlement offers take numerous different scenarios into consideration. Just because your friend was able to settle their claim for a certain amount, doesn’t mean you will be offered anywhere close to that. You also must take into consideration that insurance companies are only allowed to pay out the maximum their insured’s policy requires. In the State of Florida, you are not legally required to purchase bodily injury coverage on your insurance policy. Bodily injury coverage is the part of the insurance policy you sue when you sue an insurance company for injuries and pain and suffering. If there is no bodily injury coverage, you are legally unable to sue that insurance company. If you find yourself in this situation, you can turn to your own insurance carrier to see if you have an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy available to you. When purchasing your insurance policy, keep in mind that bodily injury is not required and if you are injured by someone who does not carry the bodily injury coverage, the only way to protect you and your family is through underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. You can purchase as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as you like, however, you cannot purchase more uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage than your bodily injury coverage. It must be equal to or higher than your bodily injury coverage. By having uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you know you will be covered if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver or a minimally insured driver. The higher your own coverage, the more money you can settle any injury claims for. The amount of property damage also factors into an adjuster’s settlement offer. If your vehicle sustained only scratches or minor dents, the adjuster will consider this to be a very minor claim. The more damage to your vehicle, the more significant the accident is to the insurance company.
The main thing that goes into determining how much your claim is worth is your injuries and medical treatment. If you are involved in an auto accident and you do not sustain any injuries, the at fault insurance company will not satisfactorily settle your claim if you have not suffered a permanent injury. The insurance company may offer you a few hundred dollars to get you to sign a release and close your claim but you will not be compensated a large settlement without having sustained a permanent injury. When you treat with a medical provider for your injuries, you will treat with them several days a week over the course of a few months. Once the doctor feels you have reached maximum medical improvement, you will be released from treatment and the doctor will assign you an impairment rating according to the American Medical Association guidelines which is something the adjuster will take into consideration when reviewing your claim for settlement. If you have been referred to a specialist such as an orthopedic doctor or neurosurgeon and you undergo surgery for your injuries, you will be offered a significantly higher settlement offer.
If you do end up having surgery for your injuries relating to your accident, one of the only things that can influence the adjuster’s decision on making a large settlement offer is pre-existing injuries. If you have suffered from the same injuries in the past that you are claiming for your accident, the adjuster will be able to pull up your information in a database which all insurance companies share which shows how many prior accidents you have been involved in and what your injuries were. If you have pre-existing injuries, the adjuster will make the argument that this new accident only aggravated your injuries and did not cause them, which will result in the adjuster making a minimal settlement offer. If you do not mention any pre-existing injuries or accidents to your medical provider or you lie about having any pre-existing injuries and your attorney files a lawsuit against the insurance company, this is one of the main things that the opposing counsel attorney will bring up. They will try to make you look like a liar in front of a jury and more often than not, the claim will be denied or you will be awarded a fraction of what your claim is actually worth. If you are asked by your medical providers about any pre-existing injuries or prior accidents, the best policy is to always tell the truth because the insurance company will find out and use that against you. If you have suffered from pre-existing injuries, you and your attorney can discuss this issue before hand and figure out the best way to approach it.
Although each personal injury claim is worth different amounts given different factors involved, if there is enough insurance coverage to pursue, generally a soft tissue claim is worth between $1,000.00 - $10,000.00. A soft tissue claim is where you usually treat with only a physical therapist with no major permanent injuries. If your MRI reveals any abnormal pathology or any spinal abnormalities such as disc bulges or herniations which require you to treat with an orthopedic doctor or neurosurgeon and you undergo spinal injections, you claim could be worth approximately $10,000.00 - $40,000.00, depending on your history of injuries. If you end up having to undergo a surgical procedure, your medical bills are going to be much higher and these cases generally settle anywhere from $50,000.00 and up, depending on the severity of the surgery and how many surgeries you had to undergo.