What kind of factors may affect the value of a claim?
Determining the value of a personal injury claim is part science, part art, and a large part persuasive skills. All three areas must be fully developed in order to maximize the settlement value of a claim.
The primary factor in determining the value of a claim is the specific nature of the injuries and economic losses sustained (also known as damages). This is the science part of the equation, and it involves:
- A thorough examination of the injured person's medical records and medical history.
- Medical research about the injuries that have been diagnosed, the treatments that have been used, and their probable outcomes. At the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith, we concentrate particular attention upon the latest research articles available through the on-line medical databases to which we subscribe.
- Where necessary, interviews with the treating physicians and/or requests for formal medical reports from the physicians. These services can cost a significant amount of money and should only be used where needed, however a personal injury attorney will usually advance to his/her client the costs for these reports, which can substantially increase the value of the claim and the likelihood of its settlement.
Next comes the art portion in evaluating a claim -- this is when every fact of the case must be examined in detail. Vitally important facts may be overlooked by the layman who is completely unfamiliar with personal injury claims, or by an inexperienced attorney who may not notice certain subtleties that are only evident to the practiced eye. This portion of claim evaluation allows the attorney to:
- Maximize the value of facts which increase the value of the claim; and
- Minimize the impact of facts which deter from the value of the claim.
Finally, all this information must be put forward in a persuasive argument to an insurance claims adjustor, to an insurance defense attorney, to an arbitrator, or perhaps even to a jury at trial. The personal injury attorney who has handled a great many claims will have also developed professional working relationships with many insurance adjustors and defense attorneys, and this can often smooth the road to settlement of a client's claim.