Calculating the Value of Your Claim

Upon your release from medical care, you will need to request medical records and itemized medical bills from your doctor(s). When all the medical documentation is obtained, if you are representing yourself you will need to write a settlement letter to the insurance company who insures the person responsible for this accident. The demand letter will contain information regarding liability for the accident, the nature and extent of your injuries, itemized medical bills, lost income documentation, if any, and proof of any other incidental expenses, if any.

Some people are under the impression there is a "multiple" system in settling claims. The adjuster does not calculate the amount of money he or she offers based upon "2 or 3 times the medical bills". Many factors determine settlement value: the type of injury you sustained; the type of medical treatment you received from the physician; the consistency of your treatment and in following your doctors instructions; the reasonableness and necessity of the medical care; whether or not the lost income claim is substantiated by the doctor; how long it takes you to regain your health; the severity of your injury and whether or not it rendered your life less enjoyable or affects your ability to earn money in the future. Your case then should be compared with jury verdicts of similar cases in the County where the accident occurred.

Our experience is most people who are unfamiliar with the claims process either undervalue or overvalue a claim. Everyone also seems to have a friend or neighbor who had a claim and a story about how much or little they receive when it resolved. In short, it is an inexact science as there is not a book out there with your name in it that says what the value of your claim might be. The only true way to calculate the value is to thoroughly do your homework. An experience personal injury attorney brings a great deal of value to this part of the process as they have the resources available to them to make a very educated guess. In the end, if you can not resolve your case with the insurance company, a judge or a jury is going to decide the value. The strength of the work that you did in the investigation phase, and how thoroughly your doctor documented your injury is going to be critical to presenting a successful claim and how much a judge or jury awards you. If you take this responsibility on yourself and later decide to consult with an attorney to assist you after the insurance company has made an offer, it often is extremely difficult for any attorney to go back and do the legwork necessary to put the claim on a proper footing. Too much water may have gone under the bridge. If you are going to have an attorney assist you, it is far better for the successful resolution of the claim to have legal assistance from the outset not at the end of the claim process.

This information is meant to be only a general overview of the valuation of a claim and should not be considered legal advice. There are many nuances to each claim and only an experienced accident attorney can fully assess the likely range of values. At Pfarr & Rethore we are always happy to review your claim with you to see if we can be helpful to you, and add value to your claim in excess of our fees. For a free consultation, please call 602.424.5547 or complete our online form.