There are too many unique factors in any given personal injury claim to create a formula for accurately valuing a knee injury claim. But there are a few keys to consider that should give you a ballpark estimate of what your case might be worth. This article discusses the main considerations when attempting to value a knee injury, and gives some examples of past verdicts and injury settlements.
How the Parties Value a Potential Case
“Valuing” a case means coming up with a best guess at what a jury might award the person who is suing for a knee injury (the plaintiff), and then guessing what the person being sued (the defendant) or the plaintiff would be willing to pay or accept to settle the case before trial.
The two big factors in valuing the case are the extent of the plaintiff’s damages, i.e. how bad the knee injury is, and how likely the jury is to find the defendant liable.
Estimating the Plaintiff’s Damages
Estimating the potential recovery with any degree of accuracy is quite difficult for one main reason: at trial, it will most likely be a jury that ultimately decides just how much money the defendant must pay the injured plaintiff.
Some personal injury damages, like medical bills and lost wages, are easier to predict. "Concrete” damages like these will mostly be based on the amount the plaintiff demonstrates he or she has paid and/or will continue to pay. For subjective, less concrete damages like “pain and suffering,” predictions are at best an educated guess based on awards in similar knee injury cases in the past. Because every case and every jury is different, even the best analysis will still only predict pain and suffering damages within a broad range.
How the knee injury affects a particular plaintiff is also key in valuing damages. For example, if the plaintiff was a very active person who enjoyed participating in a variety of sports and outdoor activities, his damages based on “loss of quality of life” will likely be higher in the eyes of a jury than if he had been relatively physically inactive before the injury.
Similarly, if a plaintiff had a preexisting knee injury, his damages might be reduced because the defendant’s acts were likely not entirely responsible for all of his pain and suffering. Finally, many people are required to be mobile to some extent for their employment. If the knee injury temporarily or permanently prevents them from making a living, the defendant could be liable for not only lost wages, but also lost future earning ability.
The Likelihood the Defendant Will Be Found Liable
The other major factor in valuing a case is the likelihood that the defendant will be found liable at trial. If the plaintiff has little or no evidence proving the defendant was at fault for the plaintiff’s knee injuries, the value of the case goes down considerably.
Even if the potential damages are high, a defendant will be less willing to settle and more inclined to take her chances at trial if the issue of fault is up in the air. Similarly, the plaintiff will be more inclined to accept a low settlement in that situation because he runs the risk of getting nothing at trial.
Learn more about Determining Fault in an Injury Case.
Examples of Knee Injury Verdicts and Settlements
- $2,673,000 total damages, with $1,400,000 of that for pain and suffering, for a plaintiff who slipped on grease, tore his meniscus, was unable to perform his job, experienced years of pain, required several surgeries, and would require knee replacement surgery in the future.
- $240,000 (auto insurance policy limit) settlement for boy, who was hit while riding his bike, and required an initial knee surgery and then several others after re-injuring himself playing sports.
- $177,000 verdict for 70-year-old who slipped and fell on her knee at a shopping mall and required two surgeries and a total knee replacement.
- $120,000 verdict for a plaintiff who slipped on ice and fractured her knee, but was found 40% at fault for the accident.
- $105,000 arbitration verdict against plaintiff’s insurance company (policy limit) after uninsured driver rear-ended plaintiff and caused knee injury requiring surgery.
- $24,000 verdict for rear-ended driver whose knee hit steering wheel and sustained meniscal tear possiblyrequiring future surgery.