Placing a “Value” on a Bodily Injury

There is no magic formula to settle a personal injury claim.  Each case is different and the science of settling personal injury cases is anything but.  It is an oftentimes arbitrary game that often yields unpredictable results.  However, there are certain immutable and predictable principles of personal injury settlements.  One of those is that the more the severe the injury, the more compensation will usually be paid.  That assumes of course that liability can be established. 

I found the following on Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Evan K. Aidman’s website.  I think it does a pretty good job of explaining, albeit briefly, how certain bodily injuries command more or less attention, and therefore more or less compensation, than do other injuries:

  • The severity of the injury greatly influences the settlement offer. So will the characteristics of the individual. For example, a facial scar on an attractive young woman is "worth" far more than an elbow scar on an elderly man. A permanent injury to a child brings a far larger offer than will a similar injury to an adult. A herniated disc suffered by a skilled manual laborer has a greater "value" than a herniation sustained by a person with a sedentary job. A soft tissue injury sustained by a person with a long history of suing for accidents brings a lower offer than the same injury suffered by a first time plaintiff.

    The largest jury awards, and therefore the largest settlements, involve severe head injuries, loss of limbs, paralysis, and death. Even these catastrophic injuries must be carefully documented to achieve maximum settlement value. It is especially important with catastrophic injuries for the insurance company to realize that your lawyer knows how to prove these kinds of cases. Claims adjusters are terrified of the huge jury verdicts returned on cases involving severe, permanent injury.