The Amount of Your Medical Bills
In general, the greater your medical expenses related to your medical treatment for the injuries you have incurred, the greater the jury award and therefore the value of your case whether for settlement or trial. As mentioned above, this is true only if the jury is convinced that your treatment was reasonable and necessary for treatment of your injuries incurred. For the sake of your health as well as your claim, active monitoring of your medical treatment is important to ensure that you are not over treating or under treating. As alluded to earlier, our jury verdict research shows that jury awards are generally higher if your medical evaluation and treatment is provided by medical doctors, hospitals and physical therapists rather than alternative treatment such as chiropractors and acupuncturists.
One other point is that Missouri and Kansas have differing laws concerning the amount of your medical billings that can be submitted to the jury. These laws greatly affect the value of your claim.
In Missouri, the law recently changed so that there is a rebuttable presumption that the reasonable value of your medical care is the amount that was paid for it. Thus, you can only submit the amount of bills that were actually paid subject to being able to rebut the presumption that this was the reasonable value of your care. For example, if your bills were $25,000 but your health insurance only paid $15,000, you can submit $15,000. There is something called the collateral source rule that is involved here and this issue is currently being interpreted by the Missouri Supreme Court in a case that is now pending. As always, you should feel free to call our office regarding the status of this matter, which is highly important to the value of your claim. We are always willing to provide information and advice concerning such matters for free and with no obligation.
In Kansas, the law is currently more generous concerning the amount of your bills that can be submitted to the jury (i.e., incurred versus paid) albeit always subject to change through legislation or possibly through judicial interpretation.
The Amount of Your Wage Loss
In general, higher documented wage loss results in higher jury awards. Like medical bills, your wage loss must be completely documented and the more wage loss the more solid that documentation must be. For example, if you are off work for weeks or months, your injuries and treatment and type of job all must fully support your inability to work. Unlike medical bills, wage loss is generally compensated one for one rather than in multiples because it is not directly indicative of your pain and suffering. Your employment, wages, and wage loss must be fully verified and documented by your employer and/or supported by your income tax returns. It is also important that you have work releases from your medical providers authorizing you to be absent from work due to your inability to perform the particular tasks of your employment. Simply being injured does not entitle you to be off work and your voluntary absence, and your resulting loss of wages will not be considered by the insurance company or a jury when evaluating your case unless it is fully and properly documented.
Your Property Damages
We have obtained major recoveries in cases involving minor vehicular damage and it is an absolute fact, contrary to the insurance company's position, that you can be severely injured in low impact collisions. Cars are meant to take impact and can be put back together good as new. People are not. However, although it is significant injuries do occur in cases involving relatively minor damage to your vehicle, juries generally bring back higher verdicts where there is substantial damage to your vehicle. In today's world, people are very visually oriented, and just like with objective injuries like fractures on an x-ray or visible bruises or scarring, jurors being able to see visible and substantial property damage increases the likelihood that he or she will accept that a significant injury has occurred and award fair compensation. As such, photographs of the damage to your vehicle as well as any visible injury to your body for that matter are important to the value of your claim.
Now that you have some understanding as to the multitude of factors that affect the value of your case, go to "who ultimately determines the value of my case?"