HOW TO VALUE YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM AND THE MOST IMPORTANT DAMAGES THAT YOU MUST RECOVER
In all personal injury cases including auto accident cases, trucking cases, pedestrian cases, bicycle, and motorcycle cases, there are several damage categories that must be paid by an insurance company. Ohio law allows you to consider the following damages when determining full, fair, and just compensation. These damages are summarized in our Ohio Jury Instructions and include the following:
- The nature, and extent of your injuries. This includes the nature of your injuries, the severity and extent of your injuries, and the effect that your injuries have had on your physical health.
- Physical pain.
- Physical impairments. This includes either a whole or partial loss of function of any use of any of your body parts whether temporary or permanent.
- Pain and suffering or anxiety or mental suffering. This damage category is a very important category that includes anxiety or worries concerning your injuries, limitations, and restrictions, and concerns about your ongoing pain including worries about your future pain and suffering that is reasonably expected to occur. Mental suffering or anxiety is the emotional distress of your mind that includes frustration, embarrassment, or indignity caused by your injuries, restrictions, and limitations.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. This damage category involves a loss caused by a total or partial reduction in all of the activities that brought you joy and satisfaction.
- Inability to perform your usual activities. This damage category includes all of your restrictions and limitations that are limiting your ability to perform all of your usual activities including your ability to walk, jog, feed yourself, drive a car, take care of your family, cook, perform household and yard work and care for your pets.
- Humiliation. This damage category includes how your injuries and limitations have caused you embarrassment.
- Loss of earnings. The damage category includes all of your lost wages and future lost wages in the event your employment was impaired by the accident.
- Hospital and medical expenses. This includes all reasonable and necessary charges for hospital care, treatments from your treating doctors, surgeons, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and any other reasonable and necessary medical care and treatment.
- Permanent injuries and future medical care and expenses. This is the most important damage category. Under Ohio law, if any of your injuries or restrictions and limitations are permanently impaired, you can recover the medical costs and expenses of all future medical care and treatment. Your treating physician must provide documentation that outlines their opinion, within a reasonable degree of medical probability or certainty that the injures you sustained as a result of the incident are permanent and it is probable that as a result of your permanent injuries you will likely sustain future medical expenses.
The most important damages include all medical expenses that were reasonable and necessary charges from the hospitals, treating physicians, physiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and any other reasonable and necessary medical care and treatment that was a cause of the personal injury incident. Under the permanent injury and expense category, your treating doctor must render an opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical probability or certainty that your injuries are permanent and were the direct and proximate result of the personal injury incident. In the event your treating physician renders an opinion that your injuries are permanent, you can recover all future medical expenses.
In order to recover these damage factors, it is critical that you gather all of the necessary documentation. It is really important that you immediately take pictures of all of your injuries and always maintain a diary documenting all of your injuries, your restrictions, your limitations, and activities that you are having difficulty doing both at home and at work.
Also, take photographs of the scene of the incident that reflects the scene where the incident occurred. Takedown all of the names, phone numbers, and addresses of all of the eyewitnesses that saw what happened. Immediately report the incident to the police and immediately contact your insurance provider. Provide them with a thorough report of how the incident occurred and outline in detail all of the unsafe things that the negligent driver/person/company did that violated your safety.
In order to document all of these damage factors, it is critical that you provide all of your treating doctors, specialists, and therapists with a thorough medical history. Going from top to bottom, list for your doctors, all of your injuries, and describe what it feels like inside your body. Use descriptive words to describe what the injuries feel like. For example, it is not enough to say, “I have neck pain.” Be more thorough and tell your doctor that you have neck pain that is, for example, “aching and radiating with a warm sensation,” as opposed to just neck pain. Tell them about the intensity of the pain. How long does the pain last? How intense is the pain? Does the pain come and go or is it constant? Describe the frequency and extent of the pain for each of your injuries.
Providing your doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other medical providers with a thorough history is extremely important. Insurance adjusters are not going to believe your word. The adjuster will consider the records from your doctors, specialist or therapists. It is up to you to give a thorough history relating to your injuries and the extent and duration of the pain.
Another issue is that from the outside you may look great and the adjuster is left wondering if you are really injured. By providing your doctors, specialists, and therapists with a thorough medical history, they will help describe to the adjuster the extent of your pain and the nature and extent of your injuries including all of the activities that you are having difficulty enjoying, your inability to perform usual activities and document any personal injury and expense.