Placing a Monetary Value on an Injury — Thoughts by a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer
Unless you have handled several claims for personal injury, you probably have no concept of what a personal injury case should settle for. If the client wants to settle the case, even though fair value has not been offered, how will you know to counsel against this? There are no easy answers, which is why it is vital to educate yourself. The following discussion should enable you to understand how damages can be calculated.
Soft Tissue Injury Damages
Lawyers and insurance adjusters evaluate personal injury cases in many ways. For simple cases, such as neck and back sprains (soft tissue injuries), the key factors are length of treatment and the amount of the medical bills. Some adjusters and lawyers multiply the total of the medical bills by two or three to determine settlement value. That is an overly simplistic approach that is used less than it once was. Yet medical bills still figure into settlement evaluations in simple cases. The bills are also considered, but to a lesser extent, in more serious cases.
Perhaps one rule of thumb for soft tissue injury cases is $1,500–$2,000 for each month of treatment. Thus, a soft tissue back and neck injury with three months of treatment would probably settle for between $4,500 and $6,000. There is a limit to this kind of calculation. After perhaps six or seven months, the insurance company may begin to suspect the claimant is prolonging treatment solely to drive up the settlement. The additional treatment would be discounted. Driving up settlement value is not a proper reason to treat. It is inexcusable to stay in treatment longer than medically necessary.
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