Car Accident Cases: How Does One Determine Settlement Value?

If someone breaks a leg in a car accident and incurs $20,000.00 in medical bills and is out of work for three or four months due to doctors’ appointments, surgery, etc., how does one determine the value of such a claim? Indeed, how does anyone determine the value of any personal injury claim? The answer is by looking at available jury research service data to determine what juries typically award for the value of certain types of injuries. If someone breaks a leg in an accident and is not left with a permanent disability or limp, that might bring X dollars in front of the average duty whereas if someone sustains an amputation, the case is altogether different and the reward would understandably also be different. While every case is, in fact, different there are available research services available to most attorneys that will tell attorneys what typical juries do in the location of the accident. For example, if a client is injured in metropolitan Atlanta there is jury verdict research service available for Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Clayton and other counties which tell all attorneys typically what juries award in such cases.
When a jury makes an award, the jury has heard from the client, heard from the lawyer, heard from the Court and has usually heard from the doctors. They factor in all the evidence and they reach a verdict. If enough of these cases are analyzed the settlement value of a claim can typically be derived from the data although it is always difficult when comparing apples to oranges as no two cases are alike. Nonetheless, general data can be extrapolated from such data which will at least provide some guidance regarding the reasonable settlement value of a case. Thus, going back to the question at hand, the way one determines what a fair settlement is, is by analyzing the data to determine whether the offer being made in settlement is fair and reasonable based on such data. If a client is offered an amount of money that seems to be what fair and impartial jurors would award for such injuries, then that would be a fair settlement. If an offer is made far below such awards then that would not be a fair settlement and the advice rendered to the client should be to reject the offer.
Evaluating a personal injury claim due to a car accident, tractor-trailer wreck, medical malpractice or wrongful death claim is always difficult because no two cases are alike. Every case is unique, however, there is a large amount of data available that can help educate the innocent victim through competent advice from experienced counsel as to the general value of their claim. Our advice to clients is to accept reasonable offers and to reject offers that are not reasonable based on such data. While the client always make the final decision as to whether they wish to present their case to a jury, typically if a client is offered a fair and reasonable sum, they should at least consider it because the offer being made is consistent with what juries typically do for that type of case. If the offer being made by the insurance company, however, is below what is typically awarded by juries, our recommendation always is to reject such an offer, although many times clients decide to accept it for their own reasons, sometimes which are financial, emotional or both.

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