New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys Explain: What is My Case Worth?
If you have been injured through no fault of your own—such as in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall, or even by medical malpractice—you are likely wondering how much your case is worth. The value of personal injury cases varies significantly depending on a number of circumstances. At Leonard Legal Group, LLC, our New Jersey personal injury attorneys are experienced in analyzing claims and seeking the maximum compensation available to injured victims under the law.
What factors impact the value of a personal injury case?
In a personal injury case, there are three primary elements that must be proven:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached this duty by way of a negligent act or omission; and
- Due to this breach, the plaintiff suffered damages.
All three elements must be proven for a plaintiff to prevail in a personal injury claim.
The damages element determines the value of the case. The purpose of damages is to make the plaintiff “whole” again after being injured by the defendant.
Damages may include:
- Medical expenses, such as emergency room bills, ambulance expenses, surgery costs, physical therapy bills, and other similar costs
- Lost wages due to missing time from work to recover from an injury; lost wages may also be appropriate if an injured individual can no longer work in the same capacity and must take less pay
- The cost of any future medical care that may be necessary
- Pain and suffering, which compensates a plaintiff for the physical distress the accident has caused
- Emotional distress for conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder that are triggered by the incident
- The cost of making alterations to a residence, such as wheelchair lifts on a stairwell or wheelchair ramps
- Loss of consortium
- If the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded
The plaintiff must present objective evidence of these damages. Medical bills, documentation from an employer, and invoices from home contractors are all examples of evidence that is submitted in personal injury claims.
However, the defendant does not simply accept the damages amount that the plaintiff presents. The defendant often raises arguments that the damages are not as high as the plaintiff claims. The defendant may present evidence to argue that all of the medical bills were not directly related to the accident, or that the injuries are not as severe as the plaintiff believes.
It is not uncommon for the parties to exchange documents and other types of evidence for several months or longer in attempts to negotiate a settlement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will go to trial for a judge or jury to determine the amount of damages the plaintiff should be awarded.
New Jersey follows a comparative negligence model, which means that each party’s negligence is examined by insurance companies. Therefore, if you are in an accident and it is determined that you are 15 percent liable for the accident, any damages you receive will be reduced by 15 percent. Each party’s liability impacts how much a claim is worth.
Failure to mitigate damages
Another legal principle that could affect a personal injury claim is the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate damages. For example, did the plaintiff fail to follow up on medical care as advised? Did the plaintiff miss medical appointments or fail to complete physical therapy as directed? If so, the defendant may be able to argue that the plaintiff did not mitigate damages and should not be awarded the amount of damages he or she is seeking.
If you were injured in a personal injury accident, contact leading New Jersey accident attorneys today
At Leonard Legal Group, our New Jersey personal injury attorneys are experienced in many types of claims. With our expertise and guidance, you will maximize the compensation available in your case. To schedule your free consultation with Leonard Legal Group, call (973) 984-1414 or contact us online.