Value of a Claim

Determining the Value of a Case

  • Factors insurance companies look at when determining the value a bodily injury case
  • Tricks the insurance companies use when dealing with unrepresented individuals

When someone is injured in an accident, they have 2 claims that arise:

  1. property damage claim which is the damage to their vehicle AND
  2. bodily injury claim which is the damages to their person
  3. The property damage claim is usually handled up front. Ordinarily, within a week or so after the accident, the property damage claim has either been completely resolved or is in the process of being resolved.
  4. On the other hand, the bodily injury claim is not addressed by the other insurance company until the very end of the case which is typically when the injured party finally returns to their pre-accident condition.
  5. After an accident, you can settle your property damage claim without affecting your bodily injury claim which is still pending.
    • Caution! Be careful that you do not sign a general release or a release of all claims from the other insurance company because that will end your bodily claim as well. If you have an attorney, he/she will review any documents for you before you sign them.

Factors that impact your bodily Injury claim

1) Liability

  • An insurance company will not make an offer for your injuries unless it is determined that their insured caused the accident that led to your injuries. If the accident was your fault, the insurance company will not pay for your injuries.

2) Property Damage

  • An insurance company will take a close look at the damage to an innocent party's vehicle in an accident not only to decide how much they will pay for the repairs. They will also look at the damage of the car to assist them in the bodily injury portion of your claim. For example, if you have minor damage to your car, they are going to find it hard to believe you could have been injured in a "low impact" accident. Conversely, if you have extensive damage to your vehicle, the insurance company will conclude it is more likely that you could have been injured. Minimal damage to your vehicle does not mean you do not have a case. It just means the insurance company will look at your treatment very closely and extended treatment may be scrutinized more. Having an attorney in these types of cases will help ensure the insurance companies take your case seriously.

3) Injuries- this is the most important aspect of your injury claim

  • Immediacy of treatment- Insurance companies will take into account how soon after the accident you sought medical treatment; the longer you wait, the insurance company will assume the less severe the injury.
  • Consistency of treatment- The more frequently you are going to the doctor, the more severe the injury probably is. If a doctor says it is medically necessary for you to see him a few times a week, make sure you obey his recommendations. The obvious reason to do so is to get better. But, you also do not want the insurance company to assume you are feeling well because your medical records show that you did not visit the doctor that often.
  • Duration of treatment- The longer it takes you better, the assumption the insurance company probably will make is the more severe your injuries are.
  • Type of treatment- PT, MRIs, Injections, Surgery? The more invasive the treatment, the more severe the injury probably is. For example, no one would ever have a surgery that wasn't in extreme pain.

What you are entitled to recover when you are injured in an accident

Compensatory Damages:

  • An accident victim is entitled to recover the amount of money it would take to put them in the position they would have been in if the accident never occurred.
    • This includes medical bills, prescriptions, lost time from work AND pain and suffering
      • Once you conclude your treatment with the doctors, your attorney will gather your records and bills to forward to the insurance company.
      • Your attorney will also ask if you missed time from work and include that in your package that will be sent to the insurance company.
      • The more serious the injury is, the more they will offer for pain and suffering (EX: broken arm vs. strain).
      • Also, the more invasive the treatment, the more they will offer for pain and suffering (EX: PT vs. surgery/injections).
      • If your injury is permanent, you will get more pain and suffering because the suffering will continue after the case is resolved.
      • Pain and suffering also includes the inconvenience related to having to go to the doctor for treatment.
      • Do not try and represent yourself. The insurance company may try and offer you only money for your bills but nothing for pain and suffering. Alternatively, an insurance company may not offer you enough for pain and suffering. An insurance company may also try to avoid paying for your lost time from work. An attorney that specializes in these cases can make sure you get what you deserve and will not allow the insurance company to take advantage of you.
      • Things to know: Personal Injury settlements are not taxable. Whatever you receive from the settlement is tax free and does not have to be reported as income

Punitive Damages:

  • Certain situations provide an opportunity to get more than compensatory damages (EX: DUI, drugs, hit and run, etc.).
  • In these cases, you are entitled to your medical bills, lost time from work, pain and suffering AND extra compensation that is intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter him from acting this way again.
  • An attorney will be able to recognize these situations and capitalize on the opportunity for a bigger settlement. An insurance company representative will not let you know if you are entitled to punitives.
  • Medical Payments Coverage (Medpay) is a type of automobile coverage that the innocent driver can have on their car insurance policy that can be used to pay for some or all of their bills after an accident. You can use it even if you were the one who caused the accident but I am going to explain why it is to your advantage to use it when you are injured by someone else.
  • If you have enough coverage and utilize your Medpay to pay for your bills in an accident caused by someone else, then, when the case settles, after your attorney's fee, the remainder of the money is yours.
  • The same thing applies to both Medpay and health insurance. If some or all of your bills have already been paid by your Medpay or health insurance, then more money will go in your pocket because you have less medical expenses to pay from the settlement. It is still in your best interest to use your Medpay or health insurance even if it only pays a portion of your expenses because any money intended to pay bills that have already been paid will go to you.
    • Tip: If you don't have health insurance or Medpay because you cannot afford it, call your car insurance agent and ask how much Medpay costs. It is extremely cheap and could save you thousands of dollars if you or anyone driving your car is involved in an accident. Ask them to give you different quotes because the more Medpay you have the more it will cost. You will be shocked at how cheap it is and thank me if you are ever involved in an accident.


  • 1 in 7 drivers in uninsured
  • 20% of insured drivers buy only the minimum liability requirements
  • TIP: Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps with your tab if one of these folks hits you

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Castro Law is here to help you get the results you need with a team you can trust.

  • Experience

    You get the best chance at a maximum recovery when you have a lawyer who understands how the insurance companies evaluate cases. This understanding requires extensive experience. The founder of our firm, injury lawyer Daniel Castro, has served as lead counsel of nearly 6,000 successful cases.

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