It’s not written in the sky; there are a number of different factors.
There are the standard “metrics” – Paralysis, amputation, or loss of use of an arm or leg; disfigurement or scarring; time spent in the hospital; total medical bills; time off work, future impairment and pain and suffering; future wage loss.
Some factors depend on the person who caused the accident. Was the conduct intentional, or reckless? Is a corporation involved? (Is it a “good” corporation that everyone loves, like Procter and Gamble, or Skyline, or LaRosa’s, or is it a corporation that specializes in Waste Disposal or concrete construction? Don’t get me wrong, there are bad pizza drivers and wonderful garbage truck drivers, but we’re talking about public perception). Was the other vehicle a truck? Did the other driver try to run away, or act goofy at the scene? Was he drunk?
Was it a big wreck? Did your car have more damage than the other driver’s? (The last shouldn’t matter, but it can.)
Then there are the “stories”, or the cases where something happens that no one expects.
• The teenage girl who is knocked out by the collision – her parents think she’s dead – and then wakes up with a quarter inch scar on her face. The insurance company offers her $17,000, but the probate judge tells them he won’t let her accept that amount. (I settled it for $35,000.00.)
• The case where the victim’s wife has alzheimer’s; when the victim doesn’t come home from the accident right away, the wife wanders the neighborhood, looking for the only person she can trust. Or the victim suddenly can’t care for his wife because of the injuries. In each case, the “story” was a substantial component in what I considered a good settlement.
• The wife with charges against her because she bounced a check at the grocery store. She makes good on the check, but the grocery store forgets to tell the district attorney; so six months later, the police come to her home and put her in a cell for six hours with a lady who keeps screaming about the bugs around her before her husband can convince them the charges have been dropped.
• Taser cases. I’ve had two. In one, the victim was an innocent person standing by when the police shot a taser at the bad guy, who was trying to avoid questioning. In another, the victim was being wrongfully held in prison when a guard tased her for refusing to remove the extensions that were braided into her hair. Each involved minimal hospital treatment – one visit in each case – no lost wages and low bills, but relatively significant settlements.
In every lawsuit, the most important thing is to bring out – and let the insurance company know about – the human factor. That the injured person is a person with feelings, with a family or friends, and that the person they insured took something out of a human life.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. It’s a lawyer’s job to look for the stories; so I listen to my clients. That’s how to sell a case to the insurance company. If you’ve been in an accident, give me a call. My phone is 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.