Whether you have a case or not depends on two factors: liability and damages. Liability means that the car wreck was someone else’s fault. If you ran the red light and the other person did not, you do not have a case. Georgia is a comparative negligence state, which means that your recovery is reduced according to your level of negligence until fault is divided 50/50, at which point you get nothing. So if you are 50% negligent and the other driver was 50% negligent, you do not have a case.
If the other person was at fault but you have no damages you do not have a case. You cannot recover just because someone collided with you. If you were not injured, you cannot claim to have a personal injury case. If you do not have at least moderate injuries, most attorneys will not take your case, even if you technically have one.
If you have a case, what is it worth? The value a case has is determined by a number of factors including what is a jury likely to award and whether the client and the plaintiff’s attorney is willing and able to take the case to a jury trial.
If your injury is a soft tissue injury juries do not typically award large damages. Juries are often suspicious of these claims and this is particularly true where there was little or no damage to the vehicle. Juries will often not make any award in such a case and insurance companies know this. Of course you can be hurt in this type of case, especially if you were not expecting an impact but even so. Most of the time, the jury will award little or nothing.
Continuing up the scale of more valuable soft tissue cases would be ones with: an ambulance trip from the scene; significant property damage; invasive diagnostic test like a myelogram; or invasive therapeutic treatments like ESIs (epidural steroid injections).
If you have surgery to a body part such as a herniated disc or have a cast put on a broken bone, this is no longer a soft tissue case. If the accident caused such an injury, these cases can have significant value, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If there is a serious permanent injury such as disfigurement or paralysis, the case value goes much higher. Obviously, the highest dollar value cases are ones where the accident victim was killed or injured so badly (as in brain damage cases) that the person will require a life care plan.
Even with serious injuries or death, there must be insurance coverage or the defendant must have assets sufficient to cover a judgment for the case to have value.