Picture this: You are driving with the top down on a beautiful spring day. Covid is no longer a concern for you, your family, or the world. You are enjoying time with your family on your way to go give hugs to your parents whom you could only talk with on Zoom calls for the past few months. You were able to keep your job, stay healthy and sane despite all the challenges you faced for the past several months. Then BOOM! You get hit.
Your first thought when you come to is whether or not your kids are ok. Your second thought flashes to your spouse, then you check yourself for injuries. You have trouble remembering what just happened. This is a classic head injury, but you don’t know that yet. You find that out weeks later when you are going under concussion protocol and you have not regained all of your short term memory back yet.
You’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get back on your feet, back to work, back to life, all the while dealing with headaches and an insurance company that doesn’t seem to care that you were hit by someone they insure. They just want you to take a settlement check and sign away your claim. They know if you do that, you will sign away a lot of money that they would be responsible for owing you and your family.
You are smart. Like most people, you’ve heard the stories about insurance companies and what they try to do to get out of what they owe. You are aware of their tactics and you are not playing their game. You know they have an idea about what your claim is worth, but they are not going to tell you the truth. So, how do you find out what you should be owed?
A head injury calculator can help give some clarity to this. You can get some answers back in the thousands of dollars, but the numbers are all over the place and can you really trust a calculator on a website to know all the facts of your case and give you an accurate value? The catch is that you are not going to find the answer on a website or even if you call a car accident lawyer for a consultation, though this is a good place to start.
How do you evaluate your claim?
Well, here are three ways you can do that to get to a better sense of how much your claim is worth:
- Go to your local courthouse and ask them if they have an online database that you can search. When cases go to court and juries and judges make decisions about cases, the settlement value for each case will be recorded in the case judgment. While each case is different, there can be some similarities. For instance, if you can search the database for the type of injury you have or something similar and gauge how bad your injury is compared to that person who got $200,000, you will have a jumping off point for your claim.
Most legal cases have settlement value broken down into two damage categories: special damages and general damages. Special damages are the things which you can easily calculate (all your medical bills, your lost wages from missing work, future medical treatment, etc.). General damages are often referred to as “pain and suffering,” but it includes some other items as well.
By looking at these cases you can estimate where your injury stands and ballpark how much your case is worth. Lawyers call this a quantum analysis and often undertake this prior to sending out a demand letter for your case.
- While it won’t get you your actual case value, the reality is, this next trick will get you the maximum that your case is likely worth. If the driver who hit you had insurance (which they are required to by law), your case is not going to be worth more than the at-fault driver’s insurance plus any underinsured or uninsured motorist’s insurance that you have purchased on your policy. Find out how much insurance is on your case by asking the at-fault driver’s insurance company adjuster what their “policy limits” are and adding that in with your UM insurance that you bought on your own policy. If you also bought Medpay, you can usually add that in as well, as most companies will waive their rights to reclaim that medpay from the at-fault driver.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company is not required to give this information to you right off the bat, but one thing you can tell them is that you don’t want to get medical treatment that goes over the policy limits amount or you may have to contact an attorney to sue the insured driver directly, and you would rather not do that. That often scares the insurance company into giving up the limits and is a tactic your personal injury lawyer will use.
Most of the time, the limits are small — anywhere from $15,000-$25,000. Those are typically the state minimums, and since most people can’t afford more than that, it is what they purchase. If you have a minimum limit policy you can be assured that if you have medical bills that total approximately $5,000-$10,000, you are likely to get full policy limits and do not need to do a quantum analysis at all.
The insurance company will likely not budge very easily at first, but if you stick with it and you have those amounts in medical treatment, they are more likely than not going to pay. You can also pay a research firm out of Tempe, AZ called ML Research approximately $200 and they will actually research the policy limits on your particular case. Personal injury lawyers use them all the time.
- Finally, you can outsource your quantum work to an actual lawyer that you pay by the hour or an enterprising law student or a lawyer from a foreign country. It may seem like a bold idea, but you will be amazed at the abilities of certain labor you can hire off the internet at a very reasonable price. You can go to sites like hiremelegal.com, upcounsel.com, or rocketlawyer.com to hire a lawyer, but you can actually put in the amount of money you want to spend, and people will submit resumes and bid on your work.
There are these databases that lawyers pay gobs of money for that give them access to all the cases in all states and counties electronically. Those databases are expensive, but law students have free access to them. If you find a second year or third year law student, they will have the chops to know how to get this basic research done. So, you may have good luck there at a very reasonable price.
Of course, nothing beats actually hiring a qualified car accident lawyer to help you with your case. The best thing would be to hire a lawyer to handle your entire case so you get the most accurate case evaluation and send you to see the right doctors, so you can be rest assured that your damages are accounted for properly.