Calculating damages in a personal injury case is a complex and challenging process. There is no set formula to follow, so the courts rely on the expertise and experience of doctors who provide insight as to the extent of the injuries suffered and what the cost of future treatment may be. Vocational rehabilitation experts play a similar role when assessing the financial implications of being unable to work due to a disability brought about by an accident.
As an attorney, I can combine this input with ongoing medical care to estimate the overall cost that will incur. However, assigning a specific monetary value becomes even more difficult when it comes to damages like pain and suffering.
Lawyers typically refer to published case outcomes and conduct a comprehensive analysis known as a quantum study to address these damages. Additionally, I examine similar cases, consider the jurisdiction, and draw upon my experience in the specific area where the case will be tried. This process helps me arrive at a reasonable estimation. Of course, this is more of an art than a science, and outcomes can be unpredictable. There have been plenty of instances where people anticipated substantial compensation but received less, and vice versa.
As such, the final settlement or resolution of the case should not be rushed or decided prematurely. Depending on the circumstances, this timeline can vary from a few months to several years. Still, it’s best to allow your case to develop fully, considering the progress of medical treatment and gathering all relevant facts.
How Cases Are Resolved
During the progression of a case, both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys engage in a process called discovery. This involves gathering extensive information about the case, the parties involved, and their medical treatment. Throughout discovery, lawyers scrutinize various factors, such as the consistency and regularity of the claimant’s treatment, compliance with medical recommendations, and the similarity and persistence of symptoms.
By thorough examination of this evidence, each side forms a range of numbers rather than a fixed, absolute figure. This range represents a high and low estimate of the potential settlement amount and often becomes the basis for reaching a resolution. However, if a resolution cannot be reached, a choice must be made: Do you take the case to trial? Or do you attempt mediation to settle the matter outside of court?
Despite what they may have seen on TV, I inform all my clients of the risks of going to trial. Attorneys are not afraid of each other, rather, they are cautious of the jury, as their perceptions, beliefs, and judgments are – to a certain extent – beyond anyone’s control.
If I proceed to court, the presentation and credibility of my client become critical factors. For example, if my client did not adhere to treatment plans or neglected other important aspects of their care, the jury might question the extent of their injuries or the validity of their claims. Alternatively, if the jury sympathizes with an injured individual who bears no fault for their circumstances and is expected to suffer lifelong consequences, determining the monetary value of such a claim becomes the main challenge, as it typically involves a significant sum of money.
While trial remains an option, it is for these reasons that mediation is often pursued as an alternative. During mediation, both sides convene in a room where each presents its case. They then separate into different rooms, with a mediator shuttling between them to facilitate discussions. The aim is to reach an agreement on a settlement amount that satisfies all parties involved, even if neither side is completely satisfied. This approach allows for a resolution where everyone can move forward. If mediation fails, then the case proceeds to trial.
For more information on Calculating Damages In A Personal Injury Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (337) 240-6697 today.