There is no standard value of a head injury claim because each one is unique. Determining the value of a head injury claim involves reviewing the effect of an injury on a person’s life, health, and finances, assessing the strength of the evidence supporting a claim for damages, and examining the ability of liable parties to pay for the injured victim’s losses.
Here is an overview of how attorneys evaluate a head injury claim and the factors that can affect the amount you receive as compensation or a personal injury lawyer can guide you to get maximum compensation.
Overview of Head Injury Liability and Damages
A person who suffers a head injury can seek compensation from anyone whose careless, reckless, or intentional misconduct caused it. By law, that compensation may include payment for all physical, emotional, and financial losses resulting from the injury.
To pursue monetary damages, the victim’s attorney must establish two core facts: the identity of the party (or parties) with liability and the scope of the head injury victim’s losses.
Liability for a Head Injury
A victim can hold any individual, business, or entity that caused a head injury through unreasonably dangerous decisions, actions, or failures liable for their victim’s damages. So can anyone else with a legal duty to answer for an at-fault party’s misconduct.
The circumstances of a head injury dictate who has liability for it. In evaluating a claim, an attorney reviews the evidence and identifies parties who could bear responsibility.
Common examples of parties liable for head injuries include:
- Motorists whose careless driving causes car accidents;
- Property owners who fail to fix a hazard on their premises that leads to a fall;
- Perpetrators of violent crimes;
- Third parties who create dangerous conditions at construction sites.
The most reliable way to determine who might owe you damages for a head injury is to speak with a personal injury attorney. In a free consultation, a lawyer can review the facts of your case and begin exploring who you might pursue for compensation.
Damages for a Head Injury
Victims of accidents and incidents that cause a head injury can seek compensation for the harm they’ve suffered.
Every case differs, but in general, the law allows them to demand payment from liable parties for their:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future non-medical expenses related to living with or adapting to a head injury
- Lost pay and benefits from missing work
- Loss of future earnings and opportunities
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional suffering
- Diminished quality and enjoyment of life
- Inconvenience and loss of independence
Sometimes, the law also permits a head injury victim to seek punitive damages from the at-fault party. These damages punish the at-fault party and deter others from similar conduct.
Factors Influencing the Potential Maximum Value of a Head Injury Claim
An attorney adds up each potential category of damages a head injury victim might claim from a liable party. The total represents the maximum amount the victim could receive for their losses by pursuing legal action. Two core factors influence the size of that potential claim.
The Severity of the Head Injury
Head injuries vary in severity, from scalp wounds to profound brain damage. In general, victims’ losses rise as the severity of a head injury increases. A higher degree of injury typically requires more medical care and a longer rehabilitation period, resulting in large expenses. It also tends to inflict more significant impairments and changes in a victim’s life, justifying a sizable non-economic damages award.
That’s not to say that seemingly minor head injuries can’t have major consequences meriting significant compensation. For example, concussions are known as “mild” traumatic brain injuries, but even they can cause significant disruption in a person’s life.
The severity of a head injury and the appropriate payment due for it depends not on the label a doctor assigns but on the real-world effects it causes for the victim.
The Permanence of the Head Injury
According to the International Brain Injury Association, of all types of physical trauma, a person can suffer, head and brain injuries are the most likely to result in death or permanent disability. The brain controls the body’s functions and involuntary responses, yet has only a limited capacity to heal. Long-term disabilities commonly resulting from a brain injury can involve profound cognitive, motor, or emotional limitations.
The more long-lasting those impairments, the greater the potential maximum value of the injury claim. People with permanent head injury-related disabilities may need around-the-clock care and years of expensive therapy or medical treatment.
They may lose the ability to work, attend school, or live independently. And they may have a higher likelihood of suffering adverse psychological impacts including depression, anxiety, isolation, or thoughts of self-harm. As those impacts deepen, the appropriate amount of compensation rises.
Factors Influencing the Amount a Head Injury Victim Can Expect to Receive
The maximum potential amount of a head injury claim does not necessarily reflect its actual value, however. Obtaining money for a head injury involves pursuing legal action against liable parties.
Numerous factors related to that process influence how much the victim can realistically expect to receive when all is said and done. Here are some of the most significant ones.
The Strength of the Evidence
A brain injury claim only has value if a lawyer could prove it in court if push comes to shove (even though most head injury claims settle without a trial). To win in court, a lawyer needs evidence items of information to present to a judge and jury to demonstrate someone’s liability for a head injury and the appropriate compensation the victim should receive.
The quantity and quality of the evidence a lawyer could present in court affect the value of a head injury claim. Cases supported by lots of solid evidence (witness testimony, medical records, expert medical opinions, and so forth) tend to have a relatively high value. Cases that rely on spotty or inconclusive evidence have lower values.
Skilled head injury lawyers collect as much evidence as possible to support their client’s case. To that end, the sooner you hire a lawyer, the better. As time passes, the availability and reliability of evidence decline. Getting a lawyer involved in your head injury case quickly helps to ensure it’s supported by the strongest possible evidence.
The Skill, Experience, and Reputation of the Victim’s Lawyer
A lawyer’s skill, experience level, and reputation in the legal community can influence the value of their client’s head injury claim. On balance, talented lawyers who routinely represent head injury victims and have a winning track record in and out of court tend to achieve better outcomes than lawyers with less prior experience or success.
At-fault parties and insurance companies may offer higher settlements when their only alternative is to tangle with a high-quality trial lawyer in the courtroom and risk an even more significant jury award. And if a head injury case goes to trial, having a respected lawyer on your side maximizes your chances of a favorable verdict.
Of course, no lawyer can guarantee results. But a seasoned trial lawyer enjoys far stronger odds in front of a judge and jury than someone whose law practice rarely takes them into a courtroom.
Whether and When the Case Settles
The ultimate value of a head injury case can also depend on whether and when it settles. A settlement is an agreement to resolve a legal dispute without a trial. In the typical head injury claim settlement, liable parties pay the injured victim, who releases them from further liability and drops any lawsuits pending against them.
Most head injury claims settle. But the timing of a settlement can affect a claim’s value. In general, the earlier in a case a settlement happens and the less work it takes to achieve it, the lower it will be. As a head injury claim consumes time and effort, the amount the victim can reasonably demand to resolve usually increases.
But that’s not always the case. Settlement values can also fluctuate based on what happens in the pre-trial phases of a lawsuit. A case can gain value if new information favorable to the victim comes out while the parties investigate each other’s positions. Or it can lose value if, for example, a court issues a preliminary ruling that undermines part of the victim’s case.
Skilled head injury lawyers try to time settlement negotiations to correspond with the moment when a case has its highest potential value (when their case seems strongest and the opponent’s weakest). And because they understand that some head injury cases don’t settle, they always prepare to go to trial.
The Liable Parties’ Financial Resources
Head injury claim values also depend on whether and how much the liable party (or parties) can pay. After all, you can’t get blood from a stone. If the motorist at fault in a car accident that caused a head injury only carries $50,000 in liability insurance and has no personal assets, then that could be the maximum value of the victim’s claim, no matter how significant the damages they suffered.
To maximize a head injury claim’s value, an experienced lawyer works to identify as many liable parties as possible. Finding additional liable parties expands the potential pool of money the victim can draw on for compensation. A lawyer also analyzes insurance policies to uncover every potential avenue for forcing an insurer to pay the maximum damages possible.
Seek Medical Care
Always seek medical care for any head injury, even one that seems minor. Any head injury holds the potential to lead to severe and lasting impairments. The only reliable way to evaluate your condition is to let a qualified medical professional examine you.
Seeking care also protects your legal rights. The medical records created during your treatment can become valuable evidence supporting your claim. Without them, liable parties and insurance companies may have reason to question your claim, undermining its value.
Hire a Lawyer Quickly
It’s never too soon to hire a lawyer to handle your head injury claim. If possible, do it as soon as you’ve addressed your immediate medical needs. The sooner a lawyer can begin working on your case, the better the chances of securing favorable evidence and constructing a high-value claim. And by having a lawyer involved early in your claim, you protect yourself from making mistakes that could hurt its value, like saying the wrong thing to an insurance adjuster or missing a critical legal deadline.
Hiring a head injury lawyer is affordable. Most offer a free consultation for head injury victims and their loved ones to learn about their rights. They also routinely represent their clients on contingency they keep a percentage of any money they recover for a client as a fee instead of demanding an upfront retainer or billing by the hour for their services. They only get paid, in other words, if they win for their clients.
Don’t Settle Without Consulting a Lawyer
The parties liable for your head injury may contact you to try to settle your claim quickly, even before you’ve filed it. But beware. Any offer they make will almost certainly fall short of the amount you deserve to receive and that a lawyer could get you by negotiating on your behalf.
Agreeing to a settlement means forfeiting your rights to seek more money later. To maximize your compensation, leave it to an experienced lawyer to handle settlement discussions on your behalf.
Contact an Experienced Head Injury Lawyer Today
The value of your head injury claim depends on multiple variables. But in all cases, hiring a skilled personal injury attorney in New York gives you the strongest chance of securing the money you need to pay for your care and recover from your trauma. Contact an experienced head injury attorney in your area today for a free consultation about your rights.