Clients often ask us how to value a personal injury claim, and the honest answer is that no case is ever the same. That said, there are some parameters we consider in valuing claims for our clients.
In personal injury cases, if an insurance adjuster is using a damages formula to value your claim (which is almost always the case), it is usually based on a multiplier of between one-and-a-half to five times medical costs. This is how the adjuster typically arrives at a base negotiating figure — not including lost income. However, in some cases, certain factors line up so overwhelmingly that the top multiplier of five is simply not high enough. In these claims, the multiplier might move up to six, seven, or even as high as ten times special damages (i.e. medical and lost income).
What are some factors that justify a high personal injury multiplier?
In order to realistically consider a multiplier of more than five, you must have had a serious injury — and most, if not all, of the following factors must be present:
- the other party’s fault/liability for an accident must be obvious and almost total;
- injuries must be unquestionably observed or detected by medical examination;
- injuries must be patently painful and dramatic — a fracture, or a wound, tear, or displacement that requires surgical treatment, or that cannot be successfully repaired;
- diagnosis and treatment must come primarily from physicians and hospitals;
- recovery must be prolonged (six months or more);
- suffering of some permanent issue — pain, immobility, weakness, discomfort, scarring — that is medically documented; and
- your physicians must clearly indicate that you will have recurring, degenerative, or future problems as a result of the injuries, even if they have stabilized for the time being.
If most or all of these factors are present in your case, larger multiples may be justified in seeking more than five times your medical costs.
Unfortunately, the fact that you feel justified in initially seeking such an amount does not mean that you will receive it. Please note that allowing yourself to get carried away with the unjustified hope of a high settlement when the facts of your case do not support it will only delay an already process.