- James C. Johnson, Esq.
Calculating My Car Wreck's Value
If you were involved in a South Carolina car wreck, medical malpractice case, or other personal injury matter, you will inevitably ask yourself, "How much is my case worth?" Many factors go into determining the case value, including the type of case, the injuries, the defendant's actions, and the effect of the damage on you.
First Step in Determining a Case's Value
If you were the victim of an automobile accident or other tort, one of the first things to determine is your injuries. Getting treatment is the only way to do this. Your economic damages will stem from this determination (current medical costs, future medical costs, lost wages, etc.). Next, determining who is at fault will allow you to learn more about why this event happened (was a Greenville trucking company negligently training drivers, was a Columbia driver always driving drunk, was an Allendale doctor continually injuring patients, and so on).
Once you know who the individual is, you can determine insurance coverage. It is important to know what insurance coverages you are dealing with (e.g., if there is $25,000 in liability coverage with no undersinsured or PIP coverage, recovery is almost certainly limited). If the case involves a slip and fall or other premises matter, you need to know what companies and insurance coverages existed for the property, for the maintenance crews, and for any other business involved in maintaining the premises. Working through these steps allows you to begin work on increasing the value of your claim.
Increasing a Case's Worth
Diving into every aspect of your case will almost always result in a higher value. At our firm, we focus on three main areas of civil damages laws:
Within each these concepts are a variety of ways to increase your case's value, including evidencing the true medical costs, the future medical costs, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, worry, frustration, pain, limitations, a defendant's recklessness, and much more. Within each each of these pieces of evidence, we hone in on specifics by getting witnesses to attest to the negative changes you have gone through, hiring experts to explain your injuries and effects, and evaluating the punitive damages laws that relate to your claim.
Working each of these areas typically exponentially increases a case's value. A case with $5,000 in medical bills now becomes a story of how you were affected, what you've gone through, and how your future self will be affected both monetarily and by the way you live your life.
There is no such thing as a true "settlement value calculator." This is an obscure concept that somehow, every car wreck or medical malpractice claim involving a certain injury is worth the same amount of money. This is simply untrue. Think about it this way: a drunk 18-wheeler driver causes a wreck with you in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and gives you brain damage. This case is almost guaranteed to be worth more money than a sober driver in a sedan causing a car wreck with you in Lexington, South Carolina. But, again, this depends on a multitude of subjective information and a detailed analysis of how you are affected. We work on your story, and we tell your story. Every client's story is unique; therefore, each client's case should be unique.
How Much Does My Attorney Get
If you are represented by an attorney, it is important to know what your attorney contract ("retainer") sets forth for the attorney's percentage of fees. In South Carolina, it is normal for personal injury attorneys to charge 33% of any settlement value (e.g., if you settle for $100, the attorney's fees are $33). When cases go into litigation, most attorneys raise their fees to 40%. The reason for this is that the case usually takes more time, money, and effort once in litigation. In medical malpractice cases, the attorney's fee percentage is normally higher because of the expertise required in such cases.
Additionally, most attorneys recoup their costs out of the recovery. For example, if the attorney pays $100 for medical records and $1,000 for an expert, that $1,100 would come out of the settlement. Note that each attorney-client contract is different, and if you have any questions about your legal representation, the best person to speak to is most likely your current attorney.
Hiring an Experienced South Carolina Attorney
Lawyer James C. Johnson has been handling personal injury cases for years. He understands what must be done to both (1) move a case quickly and (2) increase the case's value. If you are ready to discuss your case for free, reach out by phone or email. We look forward to speaking with and meeting you.
This article is from Littlejohn Law LLC's legal blog. It is copied with permission from its author, Columbia, South Carolina personal injury attorney Andrew Littlejohn Johnson, Esq.