Back injuries can be debilitating. They can make the most mundane tasks excruciatingly painful, and many cause lingering discomfort and limitations that last a lifetime. What’s worse, the long-term costs of treating and living with a back injury frequently lead to massive medical debt, and keep victims out of work, unable to provide for their families.
Victims of back injuries caused by someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions may have legal rights to seek compensation for damages. One question those victims often ask their lawyer is: what is my claim worth? In this blog post, we explore some answers to that question. To discuss the specifics of a back injury that has disrupted your life, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free case evaluation.
A Simple Question With No Simple Answer
The answer experienced lawyers know to give to that question is always the same: It depends. Every back injury is different, and every claim for damages involving a back injury has unique characteristics. Also, a claim’s worth depends both on how much money the law allows the victim to recover, and also on how much money is available to pay the victim damages.
Generally speaking, victims of someone else’s wrongful actions have the right to take legal action seeking compensation for:
- Medical expenses related to the back injury;
- Non-medical expenses connected to living with the injury;
- Past and future lost income caused by missing work because of the back injury (either temporarily or permanently); and
- The victim’s pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life resulting from the back injury.
Factors Affecting the Amount of Damages You Can Claim
The amount of money reflected in each of the categories above varies from case-to-case, depending on various factors. Let’s take a look at some of them.
The Severity of Your Back Injury
Generally speaking, the more severe your back injury, the more medical and non-medical expenses you have, the more work you miss, and the greater your pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life. In other words, the severity of the injury roughly correlates to the amount of money you might have the right to recover.
The Cost of Medical Care
Back injuries cost Americans upwards of $50 billion every year in medical costs. However, those costs are not evenly distributed. The severity of an injury affects the costs any individual incurs, of course. However, even two identical injuries may cost vastly different amounts to treat depending upon the local cost of medical treatment where the victim lives and the quality of that treatment. These factors will affect the tally of medical costs the victim can claim.
Secondary Health Complications
Back injuries frequently lead to other, secondary health complications. For example, back injury sufferers may struggle to get quality sleep or withdraw from physical activity, both of which can lead to a host of health problems including coronary disease and diabetes. They may become dependent on prescription pain medications, leading to addictions and overdoses. Their chronic pain can also take a heavy emotional toll, causing them to suffer from depression and other mental health disturbances. The presence of any of these secondary conditions that can be tied to a back injury can increase the amount of money a person might claim as compensation.
Where You Live
While this doesn’t affect Illinois, currently, nine states limit the amount of so-called non-economic damages personal injury victims can recover in a lawsuit. These damages include pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and harm to personal relationships. The aim of laws that cap non-economic damages is, in theory, to reign-in juries and limit insurance premiums. In practice, those laws have fallen especially hard on injured people. An experienced lawyer can help back injury sufferers construct their claims to maximize their recoveries even if a law caps non-economic damages. These laws can unfortunately affect Illinois residents involved in out-of-state accidents.
Factors Affecting the Amount of Money You May Actually Obtain
There is a big difference between having a legal right to recover damages, and actually getting paid. The following factors can affect how much you get paid for your back injury.
Who Owes You Money (and Their Financial Resources)
To get you money for your back injury claim, your lawyer needs to prove that one or more individual, company, or government entity has a legal liability to you. Who your lawyer can prove liability against can have a huge impact on how much money you might receive.
- Different liable parties have different financial resources. You are much more likely to recover compensation from a well-insured liable party than you are from an uninsured liable party or a defendant with substandard insurance. Two victims with the same back injury might have different odds of getting paid, depending on who they can sue for damages.
- Additional parties tend to mean additional money. In some cases, just one party has a legal liability to the victim. In others, multiple parties have a legal obligation to pay damages. Generally speaking, every additional party with liability increases the amount of money the victim has a shot at recovering.
The Degree of Dispute
Some back injury claims are a slam dunk to prove, and the parties with liability admit their wrongdoing and the insurance carrier pays for damages. Other claims pose challenges, and the parties you sue fight back. As a general matter, the more dispute a case involves, the more uncertainty there is about how much money the victim can expect to receive. That does not mean the victim will receive less for their back injury at the end-of-the-day, necessarily, but it does mean the victim may have to compromise more to settle a case.
The Quality, Experience, and Reputation of Your Lawyer
Back injury claims can get tricky to prove. An unfair stereotype portrays people claiming phony back injuries to obtain insurance payments and disability benefits.
To overcome that stereotype and get every penny your claim is worth, you need a lawyer who:
- Takes back injuries seriously;
- Has successfully represented back injury sufferers like you;
- Understands the medical science behind back pain, and knows how to explain it in simple language;
- Investigates your injury to connect it to secondary health conditions; and
- Has a strong reputation for getting results in and out of the courtroom in back injury cases.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer with those qualities today for a free case consultation.