How to Determine How Much My Personal Injury Case Is Worth

Oct 5, 2020

Personal injury insurance claims and personal injury trials are intended to make an injured person whole; they shouldn’t be viewed as a potential lottery ticket. Our legal system allows injured people to seek damages from the responsible parties. No one should have to shoulder the costs of medical treatments, property damages, lost wages and pain and suffering to which they were unfairly subjected.

The system isn’t designed to ensure someone with a minor injury, who makes a full recovery, never has to work again.
It’s essentially impossible to accurately predict exactly what you could get from a personal injury claim, settlement or jury verdict, but the goal is for the settlement amount to cover all the costs of your injury for as long as you continue having those costs.
Determining how far those damages should go is difficult. For example, your injury could keep you out of work for months or even years. An injury may interfere with future promotions, meaning an injury will cost you more in future earnings down the road. Those are all legitimate damages you should seek, even though they are future damages.
Pain and suffering is another aspect of personal injury case valuation that’s not always easy to predict. People who have severe burns over their arms, chest and face will experience a decreased quality of life as a result. The compensation a burn victim receives for that suffering can vary a lot based on how noticeable that scarring is and how it may impact the rest of their life.
In addition to pain and suffering, some injured people are also eligible for damages for emotional distress or their family could be awarded loss of consortium damages. Emotional distress is just like pain and suffering but is more focused on emotional or psychological ramifications of an injury or accident, like having continuing anxiety or problems with depression due to an accident.
Loss of consortium damages are awarded for a loss of relationship enjoyment or familial benefits due to injuries. This can take a lot of forms, from being unable to provide parental guidance or help with household chores, to no longer being able to go on family vacations or be physically intimate with a spouse.
If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligent actions, you and your personal injury lawyers should fight for a settlement to cover any out-of-pocket costs you’ve had to pay due to your injury, as well as your medical costs.
If your health insurance paid for your health care, you would likely need to pay some of the damages you win to your health insurance company to compensate them for the coverage they provided for your care. The idea is the negligent party pays for treating your injuries, not your own insurer.

Punitive Damages

In cases where the negligent person was doing something especially reckless, such as drunk driving, punitive damages may be available. This is the one type of damage that isn’t about making you financially whole; it’s truly intended to punish the negligent part and discourage them from doing something that reckless again in the future.

Because these damages are just about punishment, they don’t all go to the plaintiff; 75 percent of punitive damages awarded at trial go to the state of Georgia.

In most Georgia personal injury cases where punitive damages are allowed, the cap is set at $250,000. However, there is no punitive damage cap in “intent to cause harm” cases or DUI and DWI cases.


Punitive damages aren’t unique to assaults or drunk driving accidents; they may also be applicable in product liability or other seemingly more mundane injuries. If it can be proven that the negligent party knowingly did something reckless – like manufacture and sell a product they knew to be dangerous – punitive damages could be available.

What If I Don’t Know How Much My Injuries Will Cost?

This is one of the most common issues people who are seriously injured run into. You can’t know exactly how much compensation you deserve until you’ve either undergone the treatments or your doctors are confident in what treatments you’ll need, how much rehabilitation you will need and what type of continuing care you’ll require.

There are several specific challenges that arise from this uncertainty:

  • You likely need money right away and can’t afford to wait years to figure out exactly how much everything will cost
  • There’s a statute of limitations on your case, meaning you can’t just wait indefinitely before filing a claim
  • It may not be possible to determine exactly how many surgeries you’ll need, whether you’ll be able to return to work or what type of continuing care you’ll require afterwards

These types of things happen frequently with spine or traumatic brain injuries. Someone paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident may or may not ever walk again. Just like a person in a coma may or may not wake up.

In those cases, it’s important to work with attorneys who understand catastrophic injuries. These types of accident lawyers already have relationships with skilled medical experts who are familiar with making cost estimates for those types of serious injuries.

When Certain Types of Damages Are Available

Judges and juries decide on awarding punitive damages and non-economic damages, which include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium.

Non-economic types of compensation can be harder to get during settlement negotiations with insurance companies. The insurance company is usually only concerned with making an injured party whole for the economic damages they suffered.

Ask a Lawyer About Your Case

Providing a truly accurate estimate for what your damages may be is often impossible, but an attorney can, with enough information, calculate your preliminary economic damages. They can also provide their opinion on non-economic and punitive damages by taking into consideration previous cases that share similarities with your situation.


If you want to know if you have a case, or how much your case may be worth, the Dressie Law Firm would be happy to provide a free consultation. Call us at 770-756-6333 for additional information.