Many factors go into determining the monetary value of a personal injury lawsuit. Basically, in New York the only remedy for an injured party in a personal injury lawsuit is money damages. This requires a value to be determined for the injured party’s loss. Your attorney must create a dollar amount that they think your case is worth. If your case ever goes to trial, a jury will be asked to evaluate the facts of the case and determine if the defendant is liable and if so, they will be asked to render a dollar amount to compensate the plaintiff for their damages. In order to evaluate the value of a case an attorney must take into account many different variables.
First, a plaintiff is entitled to receive money damages for economic loss and for pain and suffering. Economic loss is awarded to compensate the plaintiff for money that was lost or will be lost as a result of the injury. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident and were unable to work for a certain period of time you are entitled to be compensated from the liable party for your lost wages. You are also entitled to be reimbursed for medical expenses along with additional out of pocket expenses that you were forced to pay as a result of the accident. These numbers can be easily calculated by adding up your lost wages and your lost expenses, a plaintiff is entitled to receive full compensation for all of their past economic damages.
If the plaintiff is continuing to have ongoing medical care and/or is unable to go back to work at the time of the trial/settlement, the injured party may also be entitled to receive compensation for future economic damages. These damages are more speculative and often necessitate expert witness testimony. Future economic damages include future medical care, future surgeries and future monetary income from a job that you can no longer perform. If properly established, a plaintiff is entitled to receive full compensation for these future economic damages. These medical damages are calculated by adding up your foreseeable medical expenses along with any future medical expenses. Future lost earnings are calculated by adding up what your future income would have been and may include future raises or promotions that you would have been entitled.
A plaintiff is also entitled to receive money damages for all of the pain and suffering they have endured since the date of the accident, along with the future pain and suffering they continue to endure as a result of the injury. These non-economic damages are much harder to value and are subjective to the evaluator. It is interesting to note that the demographics of the County in which you filed your lawsuit have a large impact on how much your pain and suffering is worth. Statistics show that juries in some New York Counties value pain and suffering greater than other Counties. Therefore, the same case in one County could be worth substantially more than if it is brought in another County within New York State. It is a factor that must be considered when initially filing a lawsuit.
Damages can also be reduced depending on the extent of the liability of the defendant party. If the plaintiff is partially responsible for the accident the value of the case will be reduced by that percentage which is the plaintiff’s own fault. Also, the plaintiff’s recovery may also be reduced if they have a pre-existing injury which effects the portion of the body which was involved in the accident in question.
While this is by no means a comprehensive description of everything that goes into valuing a personal injury case, it is a basic outline to follow when determining what a case may be worth at settlement or trial.