Whether it’s looking for a restaurant nearby or learning about our medical conditions, many of us rely on the internet for our information. So it’s no surprise that some personal injury victims turn to internet settlement calculators for help. Unfortunately, these calculators are about as accurate as a “Which Star Wars Character Are You?” quiz on social media.
Your personal injury claim’s value involves more than inputting a couple of numbers into a calculator, and you deserve accurate information. Keep reading to learn how online case settlement calculators work, and how to get an accurate settlement evaluation.
The Basics of Personal Injury Damages
Before you can evaluate your injury claim’s worth, you need to understand the legal concept of damages, or the financial and emotional impact of negligent acts. There are three types of primary damages:
Economic damages are your out-of-pocket expenses associated with an injury claim. They may include:
- Medical expenses, both past and future
- Lost earnings and income, both past and future
- Assistive devices, like crutches or wheelchairs
- Long-term care expenses
- Property damage
While adding up your existing bills and lost income is relatively easy, estimating your future expenses is more difficult. Sometimes, a lawyer will consult with your physicians and other experts to identify your future needs and losses.
Negligence causes more than financial losses. A serious injury can impact your life in ways that more difficult to calculate. These are non-economic damages. Common non-economic damages include pain and suffering, lost ability to do hobbies and activities, and loss of intimacy with a spouse.
How do you place a number on pain and suffering and other profound losses? A lawyer will spend time with you, getting to know your story and situation. Then, weighing multiple factors, they will assign a value.
When you use an online calculator to determine your non-economic damages, the calculator might prompt you to rate your pain and then use an equation to determine the monetary value of your stress, sometimes incorporating the monetary value of your other damages.
Punitive damages don’t compensate you for your losses. Instead, they aim to punish someone for very reckless or intentional conduct, such as drunk driving. While injury lawyers will always look for circumstances where punitive damages are appropriate, an online settlement calculator will rarely, if ever, consider them.
Online Case Settlement Calculators Can Be Misleading
Online settlement calculations are inaccurate and unreliable for many reasons. You may think that using an online calculator will save you money on attorney’s fees. However, when innocent victims put their trust in these dubious resources, they may agree to settle for less than the fair value of their injury claims.
Before you rely on a settlement calculator, here are a few things you need to know:
Pain and Suffering Algorithms Are Inaccurate
Unfortunately, there’s no standard equation for calculating emotional damages. These calculations are based on numerous factors. When you use a settlement calculator, they oversimply the process: you’re just prompted to rate your pain. For this reason, your online calculation is probably incorrect.
Calculators Ignore Punitive Damages
Even the threat of punitive damages can significantly increase your claim’s settlement value. However, to determine the availability of punitive damages, you need to investigate a claim and determine whether someone acted intentionally or with gross negligence. Online settlement calculators simply can’t handle these tasks, so they always omit punitive damages from their settlement estimates.
An Online Calculator Doesn’t Know You or Your Case
Online calculators just churn the numbers you give them through an algorithm. They don’t spend time with you, double-check your numbers, or dig deeper to find missing damages. However, that’s exactly part of an injury lawyer’s job description.
When you work with a lawyer, they will help you identify all the insurance policies that cover your injuries, understand your full array of damages, and negotiate fair settlements. The software just shoots out a number.
Initial Consultations Are Free
Almost every injury lawyer is paid on a contingent basis. That means that unless their work results in a jury award or settlement, you don’t owe them attorney’s fees. In other words, you should never have to pay a lawyer for an initial consultation—and good legal advice is priceless.
How Much is My Case Really Worth?
When you need to know the real value of your case, it’s in your best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney. Not only are they able to make careful assessments, but an experienced attorney will also guide you through the entire process. Your personal injury lawyer can advise you on how similar cases are usually valued, and how you might strengthen your case.
When they’re evaluating a case’s settlement value, a good personal injury lawyer will examine a variety of factors:
- The extent of your injuries and losses
- The strength of your legal arguments
- The number of insurance policies that apply to your claim
- The financial resources available to the at-fault parties
- Outcomes from similar, local cases
- Oklahoma’s comparative fault laws
- Damage caps, if applicable
With the support of your attorney, you can make better decisions about your claim and how to proceed. And because the statute of limitations begins to count down immediately after you’ve been hurt, you should consider contacting a personal injury lawyer right away.
Atkins & Markoff: Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorneys Ready to Listen to You
At Atkins & Markoff, we understand how important your case is to you. It’s critical that you get an accurate understanding of your case’s value, so we spend time with each potential client one-on-one to get to know them, examine the unique factors in their cases, and give them honest and practical advice.
We want to help you regain control after an accident, make good decisions about your claims, and get the compensation you deserve. To request your free case evaluation, you can call us at 405-607-8757 or complete our simple online contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.