What’s my case worth?

It sounds cold to talk about “valuing” a person’s injury in monetary terms, but the reality is that no court or jury can make the accident not have happened  or make any change in the injury that has occurred.  A monetary compensation is all that can be accomplished.  And when talking about money, anything is worth only what a buyer is willing to pay for it. In the case of a personal injury claim, the only measure of monetary value is what a jury in that venue will put on the last page of the jury instructions on the day the case gets tried. In Kentucky there are typically five elements of damage an injured person can ask from the person who injured them (or more commonly, from the at-fault person’s insurance company) and those are: 1) Past medical expenses, 2) Future medical expenses, 3) Lost wages, 4) Future impairment of power to earn money, and 5) Pain and suffering.
Some cases do add another element or two, but these 5 cover the vast majority.
The first four elements need clear documentation to support and if that proof isn’t there, the judge probably won’t allow that line on the instruction to the jury.  The last item, pain and suffering, is less clear and it often relies on the intangible factors that humans use to guage another’s pain. Each county in Kentucky is different in how its jury pools treat this element; the same kinds of cases with the same  evidence can deliver radically different verdicts in counties side by side.
While most cases settle in negotiation before suit or at mediation before trial, never making it to the courtroom,  the method of determining value is always the same….What would the jury do?  The lawyers on both sides have to use their experience and judgment to make the best determination they can about what that result might be if settlement is to be achieved. If they can’t agree, we get to find out for real just what the jury thinks.


About johngrice

Retired small town lawyer, lifelong motorcyclist, traveler and old guy sitting around thinking.
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