What is My Massachusetts Auto Accident Claim Worth?

To follow-up on the previous post which dealt with the elusive job of valuing a Massachusetts slip and fall accident, let us now, in the same spirit, turn out attention to the probable value of a car accident claim.  Here is a "discussion" provided by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly of six experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyers discussing the value of a hypothetical Massachusetts auto accident claim:

The hypothetical:

A 28-year-old saleswoman says that she was seriously injured while crossing the street.

She explains that a commercial van was backing out of a parking space when it hit her, causing her to suffer a broken leg, significant bruising and a knee injury resulting in more than $3,000 in medical bills.

Her job, which provides health insurance through an HMO, requires her to travel around the state and make sales presentations, which she cannot do now because of her injuries. She has been out of work for a month.

However, the woman is expected to recover with a partial permanent disability to her knee.

Prior to the accident, she enjoyed working out and jogging 3 miles a day. She cannot do such activities now and she is not expected to ever recover enough to jog again.

She has been seeing a physical therapist for her knee once a week.

: Assuming that PIP paid $2,000 of her medical bills and that there was $2,000 in lost earnings, Garrity says that he would value the case for settlement between $60,000 and $75,000.


If the case were tried, he says that the value could be as high as $80,000. "There could be joggers on the jury and I am a jogger I’d be sympathetic," he reveals.

BUELL: "Vehicles should not hit pedestrians under any circumstances so the plaintiff not only has a good liability case, but she has significant damages," she says.

Buell notes that, assuming the plaintiff’s permanent disability is not so great that she will need a wheelchair or cane, she would value the case for settlement at $50,000 to $100,000 and for trial at $150,000 to $200,000.

BOYLE: He estimates that the case is worth around $150,000 for settlement and possibly more with a verdict.

"The primary thing that works here is that it is a young plaintiff who used to jog every day and now can’t jog at all, which is telling you that it is a very serious residual injury," he says.

TODD: He says that he values the case between $150,000 and $200,000 for settlement.

"If the woman is a good witness at trial, the jury verdict range could be $200,00 to $300,000," he adds.

MILNE: He says he assumed the plaintiff was on a crosswalk, that the driver had a prior poor driving record and that the driver had a $1-million primary insurance policy and a $1-million umbrella policy.

"I also assume there would be no significant impairment in her earnings capacity as a result of her knee injury and that she will be a very sympathetic plaintiff who might have a husband who could testify about the profound affect her inability to jog has had on her life," he says.

Therefore, Milne notes that he would give this case a $250,000 to $475,000 settlement value and a $400,000 value if it went to trial.

"This case could have very high exposure if everything clicked, but the jury could easily give her $150,000 and think it was giving her everything in the world she deserved," he says, adding that he would recommend settlement.

O’DONNELL: She says that this is a case she would likely "push" to trial.

"Given the age of the plaintiff, the permanency of the condition, the affect the injury has had on the person’s activities and ability to earn the commissions she did previously (assuming she earned $125,000 last year), I would demand $300,000," she says, noting that she presumed PIP paid $2,000 in medical expenses and $6,000 in lost wages.

O’Donnell notes that, given the amount of medical bills and lack of any ongoing visible sign of injury, she might advise the client to accept $200,000 if offered.

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