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How Much Should I Sue For In An Auto Accident?

February 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 394

This is a common question when someone has been in a car accident and suffered significant injury.

Most people recognize that they have the right to be compensated for injuries they have suffered as a result of someone else's carelessness. As citizens of New York, we have an absolute right to bring a lawsuit if we believe we have suffered injury because of someone else's wrongdoing.

The question in the title, "How much should I sue for in an auto accident," is really not the question that should be asked. The real question that should be asked is "How much is my injury worth?"

Here's why.

The amount you sue for is not relevant. In New York, lawyers put an arbitrarily high number on the lawsuit papers. There is a specific reason for that. The amount you request in the initial lawsuit papers is the maximum amount you could ever receive.

Let's say for example that your attorney put down that you were suing for $100,000. That means that the maximum you could ever achieve in your lawsuit would be $100,000. If you put down that you were suing for only $50,000, that would be the maximum amount that you could ever achieve. The reality is that the amount that you are suing for has no real relationship to what your injury is actually worth or what you may actually achieve during the course of your lawsuit.

That is why, in order to protect themselves and the client, the attorney will put down an arbitrarily high number. The ironic thing is that newspapers and TV media love getting a hold of that outrageous number as proof that the legal system does not work.

DOES THE LEGAL SYSTEM WORK?

In fact, quite the opposite is true. The legal system works very well in spite of the outrageous numbers that are often inserted into car accident lawsuits. We often open the newspaper to find out that somebody is suing for $25 million because of a fractured leg they suffered during a car accident. What the newspaper does not tell you months later is that that person may have totally recovered and not have any debilitating or long standing injury from that accident. In that case, the value of that case will be significantly different than someone who has ongoing disability and injury and requires further medical care and surgery from the same accident.

Lawyers know and understand that the initial amount that is put down in lawsuit papers have no rational relationship to what your injury is truly worth. The insurance companies who defend these car accident lawsuits are also well aware that those initial numbers are meaningless. However, there is one incidental benefit to claiming a high arbitrary number.

When the insurance company gets notice of a lawsuit against their driver, they are required to 'set reserves' so that in the event a jury makes an award, the insurance company has enough money set aside to pay such an award. This is known as 'setting the reserves'.

If the insurance company does not set aside a substantial amount of money, there is the possibility that they will not have adequate funds readily available to pay for a sizable judgment. Also, it allows the insurance company to plan ahead and budget their resources for future years by having this information.

In New York, lawyers do not ask their clients how much they should be suing for in a car accident case. The reason is that the injured victim is typically not qualified and is unable to answer that question intelligently. It may also be true that you have not completed your medical care and treatment and that you will still require ongoing further treatment and surgery.

HOW MUCH IS YOUR INJURY WORTH?

To answer the second question that I posed within this article, "How much is your injury actually worth?" you would need to know the full extent of your injury, your disability and what you are unable to do on a daily basis. You would need treating doctors to confirm your injuries and then you would have a better understanding of what your case is truly worth.

Keep in mind that every case is different. And even cases involving similar accidents may wind up with different monetary compensation because a similar injury may affect different people differently. For example, a 19-year-old may suffer a fracture and react differently to pain than a 75-year-old. The 75-year-old may be totally incapacitated because of a leg fracture that results in infection, complications and need for further surgery, hospitalizations and an inability to walk. However, the younger victim may make a great recovery with very little residual problem.

Even though both victims may have suffered similar fractures, their station and age in life clearly affect them differently. The value of their cases would be markedly different.

To answer the original question "How much should I sue for in an auto accident?" the answer is relatively simple.

Make sure your attorney asks for a high amount in order to set the ceiling as the maximum amount that you could possibly receive. If he does not set the bar high, you run the risk of being awarded a substantial amount of money that you will be unable to collect because you're attorney never requested such a significant amount.

Gerry Oginski is an experienced medical malpractice and personal injury trial attorney practicing law in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, New York, Staten Island, Nassau & Suffolk. He has tirelessly represented injured victims in all types of medical malpractice, wrongful death and injury cases since 1988. As a solo practitioner he is able to devote 100% of his time to each individual client. A client is never a file number in his office.

Take a look at Gerry's website http://www.oginski-law.com and read his free special reports on malpractice and accident law. Read actual testimony of real doctors in medical malpractice cases. Learn answers to your legal questions. We have over 250 FAQs to the most interesting legal questions. Read about his success stories. Read the latest injury and malpractice news. I guarantee there's something for you. For more information, call him personally at 516-487-8207.

Also, go over to http://nymedicalmalpracticevideoblog.com for Gerry's free instructional videos on medical malpractice, negligence cases, accidents and wrongful death cases in New York.

Source: EzineArticles
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