I’m gonna talk about what makes a good personal injury case. By good personal injury case, I mean strong personal injury case worth money, and by personal injury case, I just mean a case The first thing that makes a good personal injury case is, as the word implies, your injury.
The worse the injury, the better the case, all things equal. Examples of some bad injuries are those that result in you having surgery, an amputation, a brain injury, a significant brain injury, fractures, tears, things like that.
The worse the injury, all things equal, drives up the full value of the case, so when you hear these huge awards on the news and things of that nature on the Internet, in every one of those cases, you will note one common theme.
The injury was terrible. Sometimes, in the comments section of some cases that result in large verdicts or settlements that I read about, I see people saying that the system, they think the system is rigged, they’re flawed and it’s unfair and they wish they were the person hurt in the accident.
I can guarantee you this, any single case that results in a huge verdict or settlement, you do not wanna be that person. That means the person was hurt very, very, very badly. Oftentimes, you won’t be able to tell just from reading the title of the article, or even the first paragraph of the article.
The second thing that makes a good personal injury case is your injuries need to be 100% related to the accident or as related as possible. This kind of goes in hand with number one, the extent of your injury, but the more difficult time that you have proving that your injuries were caused by the accident, the tougher your case is and the worse your case is.
The easier it is to link up your injury, have a doctor link up your injury to the accident, the higher the full value of a case. So, for example, fractures are easy to link up to an accident, and things of that nature, or scarring or stitches.
Things that can be tougher to link to an accident are just generalized pain, knee pain, neck pain, back pain, maybe a herniated disc, a bulging disc, things of that nature. The third thing that makes a good personal injury case is you need 100% fault on the other party or as much fault as possible.
Without having a fault on the other party, your case is worth zero. Sometimes, I’ll get calls from people who slip and fall, trip and fall, they’re hurt at business premises and they say, “How much money can I get?” The first thing I ask is what did the business do wrong? Well, the same applies to a car accident too.
What did the other driver do wrong? The fourth thing that makes a good personal injury case is if there are zero faults on you, or again, as little fault as possible. This kind of goes hand in hand with number three.
Your percentage of fault is gonna reduce the case value. For example, if you are 90% at fault in an accident, for example, in Florida, you’re entitled to recover 10% of the full value of your case. If you’re 50% at fault in Florida, you’re entitled to recover 50% of the value of your case.
So as your fault increases, the case value decreases. If you have zero faults, the full value of the case stays higher. If you have 90% fault, the case value, the full value of the case goes lower. Cases where you may be a large percentage of fault, maybe a slip and fall, trip and fall where the store or business argues you should have seen what you claimed that you tripped or slipped on, and if it was so harmful or dangerous and the business should have seen it, the business is gonna say, “Why didn’t you see it?” Cases, where there’s a lot less fault on you, are gonna be rear-end accidents for the most part, unless the other driver alleges that you slammed on the brakes or something of that nature, but your fault has a huge impact on the value of the case.
Sometimes I’ll have clients that say, “Why am I only getting offered this amount of money “when I see on your website, “another client received a much larger amount of money?” And at that time, if appropriate, I’ll discuss my client’s fault.
Sometimes my client, let’s say, trips and falls or slips and falls like I just discussed, and that can literally take the value of a case down 50%, 60%, 70%, unfortunately. Believe me, I wish we’d be entitled to get 100% of the full value of every case, but your percentage of fault is something that you need to consider if you wanna get your case ready for settlement with the insurance company.
Insurance adjusters evaluate these cases all the time. They know how to evaluate your percentage of fault, and just because they tell you that you’re a certain percentage at fault, don’t take what they tell you at face value.
They may be wrong, their opinion may be different than yours. You need to have a good understanding and look at the case fairly to determine your percentage of fault. Sometimes it’s tough to do if you’re the party that’s injured because you’re emotionally connected to the case, and you think you’re zero percent at fault.
I have cases where it’s often that my clients say if they trip and fall or slip and fall, hey, Justin, I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m zero percent at fault, and sometimes, I need to give them a reality check when they are at fault.
But again, nothing makes a personal injury lawyer happier than being able to recover as much money as possible but you have to fairly evaluate your percentage of fault. The fifth thing that makes a good personal injury case is there being enough insurance or money to pay for your injuries.
The first four factors that I went over are essentially useless if there’s no money to pay for your injuries because what happens in a personal injury case is if you wanna take your case to trial and you get a verdict and a judgment, essentially, it’s a sheet of paper that gets filed with the courthouse.
If there’s no one to pay that verdict or judgment that you get, you’re not gonna get anything. The court is not the one that pays you. It’s the person who caused your accident who pays you, or the business that caused your accident.
I would estimate that I’ve left millions of dollars on the table, unfortunately, from my clients because there was either no insurance on the other side, particularly in car accidents, that happens, or there was not enough insurance on the other side, particularly in Florida, there’s no requirement to have bodily injury liability insurance on private passenger vehicles, which are just cars driven by your average Joe, and my clients often do not have uninsured motorist insurance, which applies if someone else caused your accident, they don’t have enough insurance or any insurance, and your uninsured motorist insured, you can make a claim against them, but again, unfortunately, clients often do not get fair value, and not just clients, people who are injured without an attorney, do not get the fair settlement value of their case because there’s not enough insurance.
The good news is for most slip and falls and trip and falls at businesses, businesses are very highly likely to have plenty of insurance. The bad news is, again, for private passenger car accidents, meaning Joe is hit by Mike, for example, the odds are, in many cases, if you’re badly injured, unfortunately, the odds are in Florida, there will not be enough insurance to pay for.
In New York State if you are involved in an automobile accident you are entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) regardless of who may be at fault due to the state’s No-Fault law. In instances when another individual’s negligence was the cause of the accident you can make a bodily injury claim through the at-fault vehicle’s insurance to be compensated for your liability claim. There are times, however, when one may be struck by an individual with insufficient coverage. Read on to see the options available to you if ever faced with this scenario.
UNINSURED COVERAGE (UM)
All drivers in New York State are required to purchase liability insurance that meets the following standards:
- Bodily Injury minimum: Minimum $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident
- Property Damage minimum: Minimum $10,000 (does not apply to your own vehicle)
- Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury minimum: Minimum $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident (cannot exceed your BI liability limits)
- Basic Personal Injury Protection minimum: Minimum $50,000
Despite these requirements, there are about 5.3% of drivers in New York operate their vehicles without insurance. Though this places NY as 3rd lowest state (behind Massachusetts and Maine) with uninsured motorists, this still means that there are thousands of drivers out there with inadequate coverage.
The UM coverage helps you if you do not have access to an adverse vehicle’s liability insurance due to an accident caused by:
- Unidentified hit and run driver
- Uninsured out-of-state motor vehicle
- Uninsured NY motor vehicle
- Stolen motor vehicle
- Motor vehicle operated without the consent of the owner
- Unregistered motor vehicle
The Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC) while also providing protection in accidents involving uninsured motorists, only steps in as the last resort.
UNDERINSURED COVERAGE (UIM)
Unlike uninsured motorist BI coverage, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is not required by New York State. It provides coverage if the at-fault driver in an accident has insufficient liability coverage to fully compensate you.
In both UM and UIM cases, a claim has to be filed against your own insurance to process bodily injury claims. UIM claims come into effect after the at-fault driver’s liability has been exhausted. If you find yourself seriously injured by an underinsured motorist, you may have a UIM claim if the injuries you sustain surpass the limits of the negligent driver’s policy.
SEEK AN ATTORNEY EXPERIENCED WITH UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED CLAIMS
Although most insurance companies will acknowledge and honor the UM/UIM provisions of your policy, there are some who may try to reject your UM/UIM claim or offer you very little compensation. It is thus very important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
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