Personal injury calculators are a complete waste of time.
My advice? Don’t even bother with them. They are nothing more than a marketing ploy to get you into the lawyer’s office.
Case in point: I used to correspond with a lawyer in the USA who actually blogs about personal injury calculators and even he said they were no good!
I’ll explain why they don’t work…
Every Case is Different
I’ve never had two cases that are identical. If you’re shaking your head thinking “I don’t believe that,” I hear you, but you’ve got to consider that every person is different.
You and I could both have the exact same accident, but where you might walk away with a few cuts and bruises, I might walk away with a chronic pain injury that impacts my life over the long-term. Perhaps my head was at a slightly different angle on impact or I suffered a previous injury that’s now been aggravated. Perhaps my tolerance for pain is simply lower, or I’m not as healthy.
A personal injury calculator can’t even begin to take into account the differences in our bodies or even the psychological impact of an accident. Yet these are the issues that are taken into account when an insurance company, judge or jury determines what your general damages are worth that address pain and suffering.
Factor in the Unknown
There are factors that can impact compensation that you can’t know ahead of time.
For example, what if you’re caught in a white lie?
Insurance companies are notorious for their surveillance tactics. The videos may show that you can’t do your job as stated, but if they also show you dancing at your brother’s wedding, it will cast a pale light on your credibility and that could impact the amount of compensation on offer.
Another issue is that cases change over time. Somebody might walk into my office injured, but they can work. Six months later the pain gets to the point where they have to stop working and they’re off for years.
Head injuries often unfold like this; they take time to reveal their full extent so what we think will happen in months 1-6 is very different than what happens in months 18-24.
Calculators also fail to consider the subtleties of a case like how well do you come across as a witness? How supportive is you family doctor? What kind of work history did you have? All these things will be considered by the defense.
People rarely come into my office with an amount suggested by a calculator (thankfully). If a potential client asks me ‘what is my case worth?” my answer is ‘I have no idea’.
I might have an idea in my head as I mentally build a case, but I keep that to myself because I understand that I need to get into the case before I can be sure. I have a responsibility to manage my client’s expectation. My clients come to me because they’re in pain. They’ve likely already been disappointed and I want to help them heal, not disappoint them further.
Finally, it’s important to understand that the amount of compensation a client receives is based on a long-term negotiation that relies, in part, on the client’s engagement.
With so many subtle details factoring into a compensation negotiation, it’s impossible for a compensation calculator to be accurate.
My advice is that, if you’ve had an accident, don’t base any decisions on an online compensation calculator. Go see a lawyer and get the real lay of the land.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave me a comment below. If you’re seeking legal advice, please contact me here and we’ll get in touch with you.