If you’re thinking about filing a personal injury claim after suffering injuries due to someone’s negligence, it’s natural to wonder what your case is worth. Getting compensation for your injuries is about justice, but it’s also about dollars and cents. If the money you stand to get from filing a claim isn’t enough to compensate you fairly and pay your attorney’s fees, you’ll struggle to find a lawyer who will take your case.
Evaluating a personal injury claim is a complicated process, and the outcome depends on the specific facts of the case. In this article, we’ll talk about how lawyers assess cases and explain the factors that can impact your case’s strength.
How an Attorney Will Evaluate Your Claim
To succeed on a personal injury claim, you and your attorney have to overcome a series of challenges. You must:
- Prove that the other party was negligent
- Show that their negligent actions caused your injuries
- Detail the damages that resulted from your injuries
- File a timely claim that meets all of North Carolina’s procedural requirements
Even one mistake during this complex process could destroy your claim’s value.
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For this reason, personal injury lawyers carefully investigate claims before they file a lawsuit. Their investigations typically involve an interview with the accident victim, reading medical records and accident reports, and applying North Carolina’s legal standards. In certain types of claims, the lawyer will also consult with experts.
Calculating Your Economic Losses
When you file a personal injury claim, the monetary value of your case is tied to your damages. These are the financial losses you suffered because of the accident and your injuries. They might include:
- Medical expenses, including hospital and ambulance bills as well as the cost of your medications and appointments
- Lost income and earnings potential
- The cost of repairing or replacing damaged property
- The cost of making your home or vehicle accessible (such as installing ramps, vehicle hand controls, and other accommodations)
- The cost of replacement services if your injuries prevent you from performing tasks like mowing your lawn or cleaning your house
To establish your damages, your attorney will need copies of your medical bills, check stubs, and any other documents that show your financial losses. If you didn’t suffer economic damages that you can prove with documentation and other types of evidence, it might be difficult to prove your injury claim and get meaningful compensation.
Because it’s easy to lose track of your bills and receipts, you should try to keep them organized after an injury. At a minimum, put them all in a folder or large envelope. If you get into the habit of putting every bill and receipt in the same place, you’re less likely to lose important evidence or forget to mention a bill to your lawyer.
Understanding Non-Economic Damages
In addition to economic damages, North Carolina law allows you to seek compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and the inability to participate in favorite activities and hobbies (sometimes called “loss of enjoyment”). Compared to economic losses, these damages are much harder to calculate and prove.
Lawyers weigh a series of factors when they evaluate your non-economic damages. For example, a personal injury lawyer might consider:
- The severity of your injuries and your long-term outlook for recovery
- The type and length of your medical treatment
- How long you may experience pain and emotional distress
- The extent of your limitations after the accident
- How your injuries impact your lifestyle and relationships
Based on these factors, the lawyer will come up with a range of monetary values for your non-economic damages.
Am I Eligible for Punitive Damages?
Under certain circumstances, you might be able to receive punitive damages in an injury claim. While economic and non-economic damages compensate you for your losses, punitive damages punish a defendant for malicious or extremely reckless behavior. Punitive damages aren’t an option in every case, but your lawyer might consider them in a claim involving drunk driving, assault and battery, or other outrageous behavior.
North Carolina law places a cap on punitive damages in personal injury cases. This cap is equal to whichever amount is greater: the sum of all your other damages times three, or $250,000.
Looking for Legal Issues That Weaken Your Claim
Certain issues in your injury claim can impact its value. For example, North Carolina law applies a concept called pure contributory negligence which is very unfair to injured victims. Our state’s law says that if you are even slightly at fault for causing your injuries, you aren’t eligible to receive compensation for those injuries through a personal injury claim.
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However, different attorneys can have different opinions about how contributory negligence and other defenses might impact a claim. Even if an injury lawyer has listened to your story and declined to handle your case, it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion.
Assessing the Insurance Policies Involved in Your Claim
No matter how strong your claim, it’s worthless if you can’t collect money from the defendant or their insurance company. Since most defendants don’t have the personal wealth to pay for the damages in a personal injury claim, insurance coverage is usually the main source of compensation.
For this reason, lawyers always look at the array of insurance policies that cover your claim. Options might include:
- Liability insurance policies held by the defendant
- Your Med Pay insurance policy
- Your uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage
These policies and their coverage limits will usually dictate how much compensation you can receive by working with an attorney to file a personal injury claim.
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Myers Law Firm Fights for Injured Victims in and Around Charlotte
At Myers Law Firm, we pride ourselves on attention to detail, compassion, and commitment to our clients. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in Mecklenburg County, contact us today. We’ll listen to your story and help you understand your legal options, all at no financial risk to you.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.