HOW MUCH IS MY CASE WORTH?
One of the most common questions my clients ask me at our initial meeting is, “How much is my personal injury case worth?” I respond by advising them that the value of a claim always depends on several factors which are unique in every case.
In the United States, the average insurance company loss, or the injury victim’s gain, exceeds $20,000. However, at the end of the day, a personal injury case is worth what the insurance company offers and what my client is willing to accept. If we go to court, the value is what the jury decides it to be.
At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I help personal injury clients determine how much their case is worth by navigating the claims process and, if necessary, the process of making their case in court. My firm proudly serves clients in Houston, Webster, South Houston, Pasadena, League City, Clear Lake, Friendswood, Kemah, Dickinson, Bacliff, Alvin, Santa Fe, and Seabrook, Texas.
WHAT DAMAGES ARE RECOVERABLE IN TEXAS?
Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages are recoverable under Texas law. Economic damages are relatively easy to quantify. They include the cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation, the cost of property damage, the cost to hire others to do work you would normally perform, and the loss of income and earning capacity due to injury.
Non-economic damages are valued more subjectively, although an experienced personal injury attorney has the background to do so. These damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and a spouse’s loss of consortium.
Punitive damages are referred to as “exemplary” damages. They may be awarded by a jury upon request if the jury wants to punish the negligent party for malicious or heinous behavior that caused the accident.
WHAT FACTORS DETERMINE HOW MUCH I’LL GET FOR MY ACCIDENT?
The foundation for determining how much you may receive has four pillars:
The extent of your damages will determine the dollar value of your case.
How much insurance coverage there is will be another key factor. If the at-fault driver in a car accident has only the minimum liability limits required by Texas law, which is $30,000 per person, and that driver has no other assets, the maximum recovery for a claim is $30,000, even if your damages are valued at a much higher amount.
The injuries you sustain are a critical factor. The more severe the injuries and/or the longer those injuries will affect you, the higher this value will be.
The assignment of fault is another key factor. More than one party, including you, can be assigned fault for the accident. Texas observes a modified comparative negligence rule.
WHAT IS MODIFIED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE?
Comparative negligence, also called comparative fault, reduces your financial recovery if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident. If your fault is 50% or more, you cannot recover at all.
Let’s say a jury decides your damages are $100,000, but they also assign 10% of fault to you. Then, you would receive $90,000 rather than the full $100,000 because your recovery would be reduced by your percentage of fault.
CAN I MAXIMIZE MY COMPENSATION?
There are steps you can take to maximize compensation for your damages.
Step one is to seek immediate medical attention following the accident. Medical records and medical bills are the only way you can seek personal injury damages. Moreover, the medical records must relate your injuries to the subject accident.
Step two is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Insurance adjusters will attempt to manipulate injury victims who don’t have an attorney representing them. Your attorney will guide you through the entire process and provide you with all the information you need to make decisions about your case.
Step three, if you have not yet hired an attorney, is to refuse the first offer the insurance company makes to settle your claim. Not only will that offer be far too low, but you will not know the full extent of your injuries and resulting damages for a while.
Step four is to gather all relevant documentation you can, including a copy of the accident report, the negligent party’s insurance and contact information, contact details for witnesses, medical records and bills, and payroll records, to name a few. You will need to thoroughly document all the factors in your claim in order to assign a value to them and offer evidence of fault.
WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY
If you want to maximize compensation for the damages you suffer in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, work with a personal injury attorney who knows how to garner the best recovery possible. An experienced attorney is your best offense. If you have been injured in an accident in Houston, Pasadena, South Houston, or Webster, Texas, contact me at Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, to schedule a free consultation. I’m here to help.