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The Value of Your Personal Injury Claim

The value of your personal injury claim in California

The Value of Your Personal Injury Claim in California

Primary Factors Affecting the Value of Your Claim

When pursuing a personal injury claim, many factors can affect the value of your case. One such factor is the severity of your injury and the extent of your resulting losses, which include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Generally speaking, the more serious your injury and the greater your losses, the higher your claim’s potential value may have. Another factor that can impact your case is your role as a witness.

Your credibility and likeability in court can significantly impact the value of your claim. If you come across as honest, sympathetic, and credible to both judges and jury members, it can potentially increase the worth of your claim.  

If you appear dishonest or unlikeable, that may decrease your value, as a jury will weigh your character.

An important element for evaluating a claim’s worth is how much insurance coverage is available to pay damages. 

Depending on how much insurance coverage the wrongdoer or fault party took out, the amount of insurance coverage available to pay damages may increase or decrease. Additionally, the wrongdoers’ actions during the accident impact how valuable a case can be.

If the defendant was at fault for gross negligence, it increases the chances of getting higher compensation. The jurisdiction in which a case is being heard might be an influence; different jurisdictions have different laws that could play significant roles in deciding verdicts regarding the amount of personal injury claims.

Choosing an experienced and competent personal injury attorney can be instrumental in strengthening your prospects of negotiating higher compensation.

Consider a broken arm resulting from a straightforward liability car accident with a drunk driver with multiple drunken driving convictions, and a million-dollar insurance policy could be worth seven figures or more, depending upon the severity of the break, lost income, and future impairment.

Insurance companies typically calculate the value of a claim based on what a jury would award minus your trial costs, multiplied by your chances of winning, and minus the time value of money.

Given numerous factors affecting outcomes when seeking monetary compensation following a personal injury, notably the severity and level of damage incurred, along with lost wages, medical bills, and other damages, claimants stand to gain more when they’ve suffered more.

In addition, while serving as a witness, your character or credibility would undoubtedly influence compensatory sums assigned to cases filed by litigants seeking restitution.

Even though dishonesty or testifier unlikeability could lower the final values assigned post-litigation, the presenters’ descriptions will contribute to building leverage. 

Additionally, insurance resources often categorize harm inducers (the guilty party). Still, they could go toward mitigating payment for any wrongs done in many ways, including paying promptly anticipated value-based claims.

Also, culpability on behalf of someone who has inflicted harm can add value because if guilt is evident, more significant payouts can result for injuries caused by one’s reckless actions or negligence before and during the trauma-causing events.

Besides weighing onboard nuances such as geographical location, one can also determine whether compensation options are viable, and judges’ and jurors’ attitudes would also factor into settlement values assigned, especially in cases where personal injury victims seek redress via a legal process.

Finally, the insight and proven track record of legal practitioners selected to pursue your case make a difference in expected payouts. Expertise counts and the adroitness of legal teams could impact outcomes, arriving at who pays damages and how much is due to be paid by the culpable party for the harm inflicted.

When dealing with personal injury cases. It’s wise to call upon the expertise of an accomplished and knowledgeable attorney specializing in this area. 

They are often better equipped to navigate settlement negotiations or trial proceedings to secure more significant damages on your behalf. Partnering with such attorneys can thus substantially enhance the monetary worth of your claim.

A Word of Caution

No one can tell you what you are going to recover for your injury claim before it actually settles or a jury verdict is rendered. 

There are hundreds of factors that come into play to determine what your eventual recovery will be.

When we know the hundred factors that apply to your case, we’ll have a pretty good idea of the range within which your case will settle and/or a range that a jury is likely to award.

One of the things that you have going for you is that the lawyer’s compensation is based upon a percentage of what he recovers for you. 

We want to recover as much as we can for you. It’s in both of our best interests. 

We have the experience of thousands of cases and will use that experience to get you the best outcome we can.

What you are about to read is for educational purposes only. It’s not meant to predict how much money you can expect but to explain the general guidelines used to evaluate a claim.

Factor No. 1: Your injury and Resulting Losses

In theory, the more severe the injury and/or the more significant the medical bills for surgery, treatment, and therapy, the higher the value of the claim. For example, a leg broken in multiple places that required surgery to repair has a higher claim value than a fractured forearm requiring no surgery.

However, a whiplash-type spinal injury that may have degenerative effects throughout your life has less claim value than a fractured arm that heals in a few months. This is true even though the medical bills will be three to five times higher for the whiplash than for the broken arm.

Why? Jurors typically don’t like an injury they can’t see. They can see an x-ray of a fractured arm. They can’t see the pain and discomfort of a whiplash-type spinal injury. They rarely ever buy the argument that, years from now, the whiplash injury is likely to cause accelerated spinal degeneration and the resulting complications.

More Sympathetic Jury = Higher Financial Award

Many things make a jury sympathetic to your cause. For example, the more visible and understandable an injury is, the more sympathetic a jury will be. And a more sympathetic jury usually means a higher award.

Whether or not a jury sympathizes with you has much to do with their liking you. The more they like you, generally, the more sympathetic they are. The more sympathetic they are, the more they generally award.

Will they feel empathy for you? Or will they dislike you? What prejudices will they have for and against you? Have they been in a similar accident? Have they known someone with the same injury as you? 

These personal prejudices by the jury affect the value of your claim if it goes to trial. And an insurance adjuster’s perception of a jury’s prejudices will affect the value an insurance company places on your claim.

To get you the best result for your claim, it’s up to your lawyer to present you and your injury in a way that the insurance adjuster or jury will favorably receive.

If you want more information or believe you have a personal injury claim that you need help with, please call 949-203-3814 for a case review.

Factor No. 2: You and the Type of Witness You Make

As your own witness in a personal injury case, it’s essential that numerous factors are taken into account if you are striving for optimal presentation capabilities. 

1. Be Thorough During Preparation: Before beginning testimony, gather all pertinent details from any source related to incident medical records, photographs, etc. It’s essential to have complete evidence that supports your claims.

2. Maintain Composure: Try to remain composed and collected during testimony. Avoid becoming defensive or confrontational; remaining composed will bolster your credibility as a witness before a judge/jury.

3. Attention Only To The Facts: Concentrate only on what happened about the incident when giving testimony; strictly, no conjecture or speculation should be included. Keep it factual and based on personal experiences.

4. Seek Truthfulness Everywhere: Always tell the truth about what occurred during testimony; contrary statements would damage overall credibility irreparably. Even if presented by an expert witness themselves, proper measures are taken soon enough.

5. Uphold Respectful Demeanor: Respect all members of the legal system at all times. Regardless of whether they are part of opposing counsel or jury/judges themselves -this portrays a positive professional impression that can’t go unnoticed when coupled with sound testimony

6. Select Simple Wording Just To Be Safe: For everyone present in the courtroom/forum to understand statements made during hearings/talks, use plain language that anyone can easily understand without unnecessary jargon/tech terms, etc.

7. Body Language Matters: Body language can be as important as spoken words during court proceedings. Use good posture, maintain eye contact, and appropriate gestures while delivering critical points throughout the statement, which help you get your message across more effectively. While giving testimony, displaying confidence in one’s statements can significantly enhance credibility as a witness.

Factor No. 3: The Amount of Insurance Available

The actual value of a claim is what you can get for it. In most situations, when the defendant (the wrongdoer, the person or company we’re making a claim against) is either a person or a company, the realistic maximum amount of money that can be collected, regardless of the injury, is the amount of the insurance.

Rarely does it make economic sense to pursue defendants beyond the amount of insurance coverage they have. In the case of an injury with a judgment value of $500,000 and a defendant with only a $50,000 insurance policy, the choices are: Do you settle the case for $50,000 or $2? Go to trial to get a judgment for $500,000?

The case is done once you accept the $50,000 policy limit, and there is no legal right to go after more. If you reject the $50,000 and go after the $500,000 judgment, the defendant’s insurance company defends the defendant through the trial.

Typically, a trial seeking a $500,000 award in a personal injury case will incur litigation costs between $50,000 and $100,000. Assuming you win your case and get the $500,000 judgment, the insurance company pays the $50,000 policy limit.

After the insurance company pays the $50,000, the defendant still owes $450,000. How do you collect $450,000 from someone without substantial assets? What would you do if you owed someone $450,000 due to losing a lawsuit? File bankruptcy?

So you see, in all but the rarest cases, the maximum your claim can be worth is the total of all insurance coverage covering the injury event. Included in that “total” are any applicable “underinsured” or “uninsured” insurance policy provisions that you have in place.

In our example above, if the defendant has only $50,000 in insurance coverage, your claim is worth $500,000, and if you have a $500,000 “underinsured” motorist provision in your auto insurance policy that covers you, $450,000 in coverage is available to you.

In this situation, the claim is worth $500,000 because there is adequate insurance to cover the damages. This is one of the reasons why we encourage everyone to carry high “uninsured” and “underinsured” motorist provisions in their motor vehicle accident insurance policies.

Factor No. 4: The Defendant's Story

Ok, so what difference does it make in who the defendant (the person who caused the accident) is or what they were doing at the time of the accident?

Let’s consider three examples:

Example 1:

If the defendant is an intoxicated gasoline delivery truck driver who runs a red light at high speed, a jury will award more than if the defendant is a grandmotherly-type person on her way to deliver food baskets to the poor who accidentally rear-ended you at a stop sign.

Example 2:

If your accident was caused by a giant man who looks like a Hell’s Angel, a jury will award more money than if the defendant is the local “grammar school teacher of the year” award winner.

Example 3:

The jury will award a higher sum if the defendant is a 21-year-old local war hero who has just returned from a tour of duty in a war zone driving a brand-new Ferrari than if the defendant is a wealthy family’s 21-year-old son who was drag racing in an old Honda Civic.

As you can see, who the defendant is and what they were doing at the time of the accident significantly affect the value of your case.

Factor No. 5: The Jurisdiction of Your Case

If your claim does not settle and a lawsuit is filed, it must be filed in a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter of the lawsuit (where the accident happened) and the person being sued (residence of the defendant).

The law to be applied to a case is different in different jurisdictions (This is called “substantive law.”) Courts in different jurisdictions might have vastly different rules of evidence and court rules. Both of these can significantly affect your ability to prove your case.

Therefore, what jurisdiction your case is in can make a massive difference in the substantive law that will be applied to your case, the types of damages that are recoverable, and what evidence will be admissible.

So what does this all mean to you? Well, the law and the evidence affect the likelihood of your winning a case and the ultimate award that a jury may make. Now you know why attorneys fight over where a lawsuit will be filed, and defendants complain that plaintiffs “forum shop” for the best jurisdictions.

Factor No. 6: The Judge in Your Case and the Jury You Draw

The judge assigned to your case can make a massive difference in the outcome of your case.

Some judges are pro-defendant and have a bias against personal injury lawsuits. Some judges are former personal injury attorneys sympathetic to a seriously injured accident victim. 

During the discovery phase of a case, the judge may make many discovery orders that determine what information the various sides will have to provide each other.

Judges also make many rulings that decide what evidence gets presented and what instructions the jury will receive at the end of a trial. So, having a judge who will give a plaintiff a fair trial makes all the difference in the world.

Jurors, like judges, come to court with biases and prejudices. Jurors in some jurisdictions are pro-business and anti-consumer. Some jurors are so prejudiced by insurance company propaganda campaigns that they believe anyone pursuing a personal injury claim is faking.

Then there are some jurisdictions that defendants hate and plaintiffs love because the jurors are historically generous. 

Generally, in more rural areas, jurors award less money in damages than jurors in bigger cities, especially where the cost of living is more significant.

With judges, we generally have a pretty good idea of which way the judge is leaning and what his rulings are likely to be. 

However, with juries, since every jury is different, we can only go by regional trends. So, the judge and jury will likely play a role in valuing your case.

Factor No. 7: The Skill and Reputation of Your Legal Team

Knowing who your attorneys are, how well they are known, and their reputations makes a considerable difference in the value of a claim. 

Before we had done a half dozen cases against automakers, car manufacturers were not interested in settling a case with us for a fair amount of money. We had not proven ourselves to them.

However, after we successfully concluded some rather large cases against them, automakers were interested in settling claims with us early in the litigation process for fair money.

When we deal with insurance companies or defense attorneys who know us or know our reputation, fair settlements come more easily. Since the Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys have handled thousands of cases over three decades, we have dealt with nearly every insurance company in California and many, if not most, of the biggest insurance defense law firms.

For example, Brian Chase, our litigation lawyer and managing partner, sometimes has a perceived advantage over the defense attorneys in our cases when they realize that Brian and the judge know each other from numerous bar association events, from being on a panel together on lawyer continuing education programs, or from legal articles Brian has written that judges still depend upon.

Or the judges know him from being the past president of the Trial Lawyers Association, or just because Brian has done trials in that judge’s courtroom before. We have had defense attorneys try to get a change in the judge because they thought the judge was going to favor us. All of these factors help to build settlement value in a case.

Final Thoughts

Although we’ve now gone over the biggest factors in valuing a case, you still probably don’t have a clear idea of what your case is worth. Don’t worry. That’s typical. And that’s because there are so many variables that affect what your case is worth.

Within some vague parameters, we can guess the ultimate value of your case.

However, until we know

  • The full extent of your injuries
  • What are your medical expenses going to be?
  • How much of a recovery are you going to make?
  • What the defense’s position is regarding your case and
  • What jurisdiction are we likely to be in?

It is impossible to give you a realistic estimate of the value of your case.

At some point, all the information must be gathered to value your case. If you choose Bisnar Chase to represent you, we will review your case and discuss its value. We will calculate all the variables and tell you what we think and why. You can read about a lawyer’s research during this process in our timeline of a typical car accident case or find out what Gap Insurance is.

If you would like to start this process, please call 949-203-3814. The consultation is free, and you are not obligated to pick Bisnar Chase to represent you. You have nothing to lose and a lot of valuable information to gain.

Case Results

  • 1


    Consumer Class Action

  • 2


    Motor Vehicle Accident

  • 3


    Auto Defect – Seat Manufacturers, Johnson Controls

  • 4


    Motorcycle Accident

  • 5


    Defective Seatback

  • 6


    Bicycle Accident

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KellyAnn Romanych
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Great people in this office, everyone was really helpful explaining everything. I was referred by my aunt for my car accident in October and the case went pretty fast. No problems and very professional. I was kept in the loop thru the whole process and was able to get a better settlement than my insurance company said I would. I can’t really compare them to other law firms because it was the first time I had to use an attorney, but my bad experience with the car accident was handled as well as I could have hoped.

P. Montgomery

Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, LLP

1301 Dove St. STE 120, Newport Beach, CA 92660