What Is My Case Worth?
It goes without saying the insurance company wants to minimize your case, and pay as little as possible. One way that they do that is to value claims based upon medical bills, but medical bills are not an accurate measure of your harms and are often much lower than the real harm suffered. Your medical bills may be quite low, if for example you have good health insurance that covers your medical expenses. For example, you may have $10,000 in medical expenses for serious injuries such as broken limbs. We have resolved cases for more than $1,000,000 with medical expenses of around $15,000. Medical bills are NOT an accurate measure of the true harms and losses a human being has suffered in an injury case! If your attorney is valuing your case based solely on medical bills, they are doing you a disservice, and are subscribing to a concept created by and pushed by insurance companies that do not have the injured person’s interests at heart.
Furthermore, medical expenses get paid back to the medical professionals, or paid back to your health insurance – not to you. So what good does it do the injured person to recover $10,000 for medical expenses, only to pay that money back to the medical professionals? The real harms you’ve suffered are human losses (non-economic) pain and suffering damages.
California law is set forth in the Jury Instructions, which list these human losses (called non-economic damages), such as pain, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, impairment, inconvenience, disfigurement, humiliation, and grief to name a few. The value of these harms vary from case to case, but your attorney MUST understand how each of these losses affect YOUR life, and make a jury or insurance company understand that the value of these harms are far greater than medical bills. These are the real losses that an injured person suffers, not only medical expenses. If you’ve been injured, you need an attorney who values your case based upon your human losses, not merely economic losses.
For instance, let’s say you love to jog or run as a hobby. You do not earn a living by running, in fact you do not make any income from running. If you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, and can never run again an insurance company may argue that your medical expenses are low, and you did not lose any income due to the injury. However, your life is greatly harmed, and you would be very upset to never run again. A skilled attorney should know how to explain this very serious loss of enjoyment and quality in your life.
Another example – let’s say you are a retired person who does not work anymore, but you love to spend your time playing piano – it has been a life long pursuit since your teenage years and brings you immense joy. If you were involved in an accident where you broke a couple fingers, suffered permanent tendon and nerve damage, and could never play again or play without pain, the medical bills may be low and you may not have lost income, but the harm to YOU is very substantial. Your attorney must be able to convey this loss in a way that a jury would relate to and understand – and by doing so the insurance company (if they are smart) will pay full and fair compensation for the loss you’ve suffered.
The bottom line is that your case is not worth just the medical bills, or lost income, but most importantly the loss of human assets (non-economic assets). Do not let the insurance companies’ paradigm for minimizing harms result in a discounted, cheap, or unfair settlement for you.