Through my years of practicing personal injury law, I have frequently heard my clients and third parties compare their injury cases to cases involving someone they know, such as a family member or friend. One client compared her injury case to a neighbor’s down the street, focusing on the amount of that person’s settlement. I quickly pointed out that this was dangerous to do this because it can potentially give a false impression about the true settlement value of her own case. As I mentioned earlier, everyone’s injury case is akin to their unique “thumbprint” in terms of settlement value.
Several factors determine case value. Therefore, the value of one injury case cannot be compared to that of another case. To illustrate, was the other person injured in a car accident, and if so, what was the type of accident (rear end collision versus a side swipe, etc.)? What was the property damage in that accident?
Other factors to consider include the angle of impact; whether air bags deployed; whether photographs showed more or less property damage than your case; whether the at-fault party was also injured; whether more than one vehicle was involved; whether both vehicles were drivable, and whether there was any gap in care or hospitalization. All of these factors depict just how different one car accident is from another.
Also, when comparing cases, you need to be aware of the age, sex and weight of an injured person; the prior medical condition of each or injuries from prior accidents that may have affected their respective recovery rates; whether or not either party sustained surgery or permanent impairment to a particular body part, and if a wage loss claim was supported and substantiated by injuries and treating physicians.
A victim of a slip and fall accident would have injuries that are generally different from the injuries sustained from a car accident. In fact, in my practice I see more spinal fractures in slip and falls because of the twisting motion made during the fall. In car accidents, I see more spinal loss motion segment integrity issues due to the nature of bio-mechanical forces typically occurring in automobile collisions. Each injury case is unique. When you begin listening to family members or friends about their case value, you need to remember that the cases should not be compared.
Listen to your attorney when it comes time to decide the settlement value of your case. Part of being a lawyer is also being a “counselor at law.” The license an attorney holds from every state bar in the United States says “Attorney and Counselor at Law.” Not only should a lawyer advocate your situation with zeal, but he or she needs to counsel you on why certain issues or facts may arise in your case. Part of the job of being a good lawyer is to counsel a client on a settlement offer made by the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney, and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Firm dedicated to representing families of people injured in personal injury accidents including car accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, product defects, and the like. If you or a loved one has been killed or injured in an accident in San Diego, or Southern California, due to the negligence of another, please order your free copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information that will help you protect your legal rights and it normally sells for $16.95. However, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in an California accident.