Be wary of any lawyer who tries to tell you how much your personal injury case is worth during your first phone call or meeting.
Until your lawyer has reviewed all of your medical records, seen photos of your car, spoken to witnesses, read the police reports, etc, he/she will have no idea what your case is worth. Accurate estimates require full information.
That said, there are two basic kinds of “damages” you can recover for a personal injury case in Oregon: Economic Damages and Non-economic Damages. In the past, these were called “General Damages” and “Special Damages,” respectively, but the proper terms are Economic and Non-economic.
Economic Damages is compensation for any money you’ve lost due to the collision. This includes:
- money to repair your car (or the full value of the car if it was totaled)
- money to pay for medical bills
- money to pay for household services that you could not do because of your injuries
- lost income due to injuries that prevented you from working
- money for future economic losses
Noneconomic Damages means money for injuries that are not as easily given a numerical value. Some examples are:
- mental suffering
- emotional distress
- interference with normal activities
- damage to a person’s reputation
- aggravation to a previous injury
Punitive Damages. In the right case, it can make sense to try to get punitive damages, but most injured people are better off seeking only Economic and Non-economic Damages. In Oregon, the State takes 70% of any Punitive Damages. Then your lawyer will typically take 20%, leaving you with only 10%, which is then taxable. In the end, an injured person usually only ends up with about 10% of punitive damages.
When we estimate what a case is worth, we use our experience and knowledge to try to predict what a jury would do with your case. We will only make this estimate after we have all of the relevant information. At that time, we will tell you the probable value that we believe your case has.