How is the Value of My Case Determined?
As Rainwater, Holt & Sexton personal injury attorneys there is one question that we hear repeatedly in initial meetings with potential clients following a car wreck. Potential clients want an opinion on how much their case is worth. It is all but impossible to know at an initial meeting how much a case is worth, but here is a list of things that most attorneys will look at as the case progresses.
- Who was at fault?
The law in Arkansas is that a driver must be at least fifty-one percent at fault to be held liable for another driver’s injuries. In some cases, such as a case where one car has functioning brake lights and is rear ended, liability is clear. In others, not so much. For example, if a driver (let’s call him Bill) is turning left at an intersection and collides with another driver (who we will call Susie), who is at fault? Bill says that he had a green arrow so he proceeded to turn. Susie says that she had a green light so he proceeded through the intersection. Both Bill and Susie were coming home from work and neither of them have any criminal or traffic history that would allow one to cast doubt on the other. Bill wants to make a claim against Susie for injuries Bill suffered in the car wreck. Is Susie at fault? In this scenario it is hard to tell. These are two honest people, who disagree on who was at fault. The disagreement might hurt Bill’s case. If Susie’s insurance company offers a settlement amount, which it might not even do in this scenario, it will more than likely be a lower offer than would be made if the wreck was clearly Susie’s fault.
- What injuries were sustained?
If liability is clear, the next question is what injuries were sustained because of the wreck. Injuries are proven by turning over to the insurance company, copies of medical records that show how much and what kind of treatment someone had because of the accident. This can get tricky. People in car wrecks need to treat their injuries, but the treatment need to be done at the behest of a doctor. For the insurance company to accept treatment, it must be shown that the treatment was related to the car collision. This is done by seeing a doctor who then refers a person who has been in a car collision other medical providers like a specialist or physical therapy.
- What are the at fault driver’s policy limits?
Drivers in Arkansas are required to carry liability insurance policies that have limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence. On such a policy, the most that the insurance company will pay to settle one person’s case is $25,000. Some drivers have higher limits, but many carry only minimum limits required by law. If the at fault driver’s policy limits are $25,000, then that is all that the insurance company will ever offer to settle the case. Do not assume that the insurance company will offer limits, but it is important to know what the limits are in cases where the bills start to stack up.
The above is a list of things that your attorney will try and find answers to as your case progresses. Every case is different, but this should give potential clients an idea of what attorneys work when trying to determine how much a case is worth. If you have been in a car wreck, call the attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton. We would love to speak with you and help you in any way we can.