Have you or a loved one been in an accident?
Accidents leave many victims in severe pain and unable to work. Medical bills and other expenses swallow up a victim’s savings and other assets.
People who are feeling stressed financially often ask, “How much is my case worth?”
The answer to this question is simple: Your case is worth whatever you can get an insurance company to offer you in a settlement or an amount you can get a jury to agree to in court.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the factors that go into valuing injuries in personal injury cases.
You can receive compensation in an accident for your medical care to treat your injuries. Medical care can include:
- Cost of an ambulance to the hospital
- Diagnostic tests and bloodwork
- Overnights in the hospital
- Prescription drugs
- Occupational or other therapy
- Assistive devices (crutches, bandages, etc.)
- Follow up doctor visits
Minor injuries like a sprain or bruise might only cost a thousand dollars to treat, but more serious injuries that need surgery can cost over a million dollars.
You might also qualify for future medical expenses if you are permanently disabled. Someone with a permanent brain injury could need an at-home attendant for the rest of her life.
Bad injuries might force you to take time off from work. You can get compensation for this missed work—even if you used sick time or personal days to cover your time away.
Find your most recent pay stub to check how much you make. If you missed a month of work, you can receive a month’s worth of wages.
If you were injured in a car accident, you could receive compensation to fix your car. It should be put back in the condition it existed in before the crash. You can receive compensation for any damaged property.
This is where things get interesting. With monetary losses, your lawyer can look at your pay stubs, medical bills, and repair estimates to calculate how much you can receive. But New Jersey law also allows victims to get compensation for non-economic losses:
- Pain and suffering. Did you break a leg? You can receive compensation for the pain you feel as the bone heals. Most physical injuries cause pain or discomfort.
- Mental anguish or emotional distress. Physical injuries can lead to depression or anxiety. The shock of an accident could cause post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
The amount clients get for these kinds of losses will depend on the circumstances. Here, a quality lawyer can make a huge difference.
At our firm, we will do everything possible to document your pain, suffering, and emotional distress so you can receive a fair amount.
Compensation for a Spouse
In some situations, your spouse might have a claim for “loss of consortium.” This type of suit recognizes that serious injuries can impair a marital relationship. For example, a spouse who is disabled can no longer be sexually intimate or provide the companionship he used to. Loss of consortium claims are not common, but you can bring one if your spouse suffered permanent disabling injuries.
These are rarely given. NJSA § 2A:15-5.12 allows a victim to seek punitive damages when a defendant recklessly or intentionally injures you. A motorist who drives into a crowd might qualify, since he has no regard for the safety of others.
A jury awards punitive damages based on how much money they think would stop the defendant and others from acting this way.
Limitations on Your Personal Injury Claim
There are certain factors that can reduce the amount you can receive, even if you have very high expenses. We want to give you a heads up so you better understand how much compensation you can take home.
The Size of the Defendant’s Insurance Policy
Most people you sue will not have the assets to pay out compensation, but they probably have an insurance policy. If you are injured in a car accident, then the driver should have insurance. If you were injured on someone else’s property, they should have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance.
You might have $100,000 in medical bills and lost wages, but if the defendant only carries $30,000 in liability insurance, then it will be hard to get the other $70,000. You can sue the defendant personally, but he or she might not have the assets needed to pay up. Businesses usually have larger insurance policy, so adding a business as a defendant is good strategy when possible.
Your Own Fault
New Jersey recognizes that sometimes accident victims contributed to their injuries by being negligent themselves. This is called contributory negligence. If you are more than 50% responsible, then you can’t receive money in a lawsuit. Even if you are 50% or less responsible, your compensation will be reduced by your proportion of fault.
Imagine you have $100,000 in damages but are 40% responsible; at most, you can receive $60,000. That is how negligence works in New Jersey, so your lawyer will need to understand exactly what happened in the moments leading up to an accident.
New Jersey law limits the amount of compensation you can receive in some cases. For example, there are damage caps for punitive damages and caps for medical malpractice cases.
Meet with Us Today
As you can see, the answer to “How much is my case worth?” is complicated. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your individual case.
Please call The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, today. We have helped many clients get the compensation they need.