How do I determine what my personal injury claim should be?

UPDATED: Nov 25, 2011

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How do I determine what my personal injury claim should be?

At my apartment my staircase detached from our balcony dropping me 2 stories/13 ft onto the ground. The landlord knew it was in bad shape due to the fact they were actually in the process of fixing it. They had just received blueprints from the city to tear it down the same day and rebuild. I sustained severe bone bruising and sprained ankle which they treated like a break. I was forced off work for 2 weeks and have been on crutches until a week ago. I’m now in a boot and brace and I need therapy. I’m only 21 and have had no prior medical problems; now Ihave constant problem. I hear that my settlement should be 3 times medical bills which would be $12,000 but I feel $35,000 is more what I deserve. Am I wrong?

Asked on November 25, 2011 under Personal Injury, Illinois


Mike Harvath / Harvath Law

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

     Hi.  I am an Illinois-licensed personal injury attorney that focuses my practice on negligence claims, and we handle cases throughout the entire state of Illinois.

     I do not believe that you are being unreasonable in stating that you believe $35,000 is what you deserve for a settlement of your claim.  You mentioned that you missed work for 2 weeks and, furthermore, you have dealt with a lot of pain and suffering, which, needless to say, would not have occured, had the landlord not been negligent.  You need to be aware that certain types of injuries, particularly those that require missed time from work, can be worth considerably more than 3 times the medical bills, provided that you have an appropriate doctor provide a medical prognosis, and the correct legal arguments are presented to the insurance company.  Injured parties who retain attorneys receive an average of 2-3 times the amount of a person whom is unrepresented, and deals with the insurance company on their own.

     Many attorneys will handle injury cases on a contingency fee basis.  This means that you do not owe the attorney anything up-front.  The fee that the attorney receives is simply a percentage of the overall amount that is recovered for you through your settlement. 

     A few additional details would be needed to provide an estimate of what your claim is potentially worth.  If the level of negligence of the landlord was high enough, you can also be entitled to additional compensation.

     In any event, we can be reached at (314) 471-5585, or, for convenience, via e-mail at

NOTE: This answer is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.  The use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship or privilege between the user and the attorney responding. 

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means no further improvement is anticipated, obtain your medical bills, medical reports and documentation of wage loss.  Your personal injury claim filed with the lanldord's insurance carrier will consist of these items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.   There isn't any mathematical formula for determining compensation for pain and suffering.  I would ask quadruple the medical bills, but NOT expecting to get that.  That would be a starting point in negotiations.  The insurance company will respond with a much lower offer and you can continue negotiations.  If future treatment is needed after being released by the doctor, the estimated cost of that future treatment discounted to present value should be included in your settlement because once the case is settled you won't be able to go back to the insurance company and ask for additional funds.  If the case is settled with the insurance company, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for negligence against the landlord.  If the case is NOT settled with the insurance company, you will need to file your lawsuit against the landlord prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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