In the early stages, there is no way to precisely value your claim. Any lawyer that tells you, up front, what your case is worth is blowing smoke.
The main expenses you are entitled to are medical bills and lost wages caused by the accident. In Ohio, punitive damages are capped at either twice the compensatory damages or 10% of the net worth of the individual (up to $350,000) at the time of the accident.
It is important to wait until you’ve received all necessary medical treatment before determining the value of your claim(s). In legal terms, the point at which you’ve seen all your doctors, and undergone all necessary procedures, is called the point of “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). In other words, you’ve healed as much as you’re ever going to heal.
Properly valuing a personal injury claim requires patience and your attorney’s hard-work. It’s not easy, we know from years and years of experience. But please trust us when we say that it’s what is best for you and your family.
Once you’ve reached the point of maximum medical improvement, it’s time to figure out the value of your personal injury claim.
One way courts calculate damages is based on the costs you’ve incurred as a result of your accident. These are typically fairly easy to calculate; you can keep track of them yourself to get an idea of what you’ll need to claim.
These are the easiest to track and calculate. They include all of your visits with doctors and specialists, any hospital stays, testing expenses, and the cost of any medication. If you are going to need regular ongoing care as a result of the injury, you will also be able to claim compensation for the cost of that care.
You can claim the value of any property that was destroyed and the repair costs of any damaged property. If you were injured in a car accident and your car was totaled, you’re entitled to compensation for the value of your car. If the accident destroyed your personal belongings, you’re entitled to those, too.
In addition to medical expenses and property damage, you can claim lost wages. Your injury caused you to be out of work. Thus, you were prevented from earning the wages that you otherwise would have earned. If you missed a month of work, you’re entitled to a month of wages. If your injury is such that you won’t be able to do your job anymore and will have to take a lower-paying position, you can claim compensation for the money that you would have been able to earn in the future had it not been for the accident. This is called “loss of earning capacity.”
The costs listed above are relatively concrete and typically readily measurable. You may also be able to claim accident compensation for certain other reasons that are more difficult to measure. Because the measurement of these issues is so difficult, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about what you can claim and in what amount.
Your accident didn’t just leave you with medical expenses, property expenses, and lost wages. You had to deal with the pain from your injuries and you may experience ongoing pain for the rest of your life as a result of those injuries. The law may entitle you to monetary compensation for your suffering.
Accurately assessing these types of damages requires a skilled attorney who analyzes countless factors. That assessment is on a case-by-case analysis as every person and every claim is unique.
In addition to your physical pain, you may be entitled to compensation for the emotional distress experienced as a result of the accident. That may include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, insomnia, or other disorders. A serious accident can cause serious mental and emotional side effects and the law recognizes your right to compensation.
If your injuries are going to prevent you from doing something you love, you may be entitled to compensation for that loss. If your injury is going to prevent you from participating in your hobbies and interests, you should receive compensation for that loss.
Finally, your injury may prevent you from fully enjoying your relationship with your spouse and children. You may not be able to pick up your child anymore. You may not be able to maintain a physical relationship with your spouse. These are important parts of your life and you may be able to claim compensation for their loss.
If the activity or behavior that caused your injury was particularly outrageous, reckless, careless or unreasonable, the court may choose to award punitive damages on top of any actual damages. Punitive damages are usually awarded in order to deter such behavior or activity in the future.