Personal injury attorney’s damage evaluation checklist

To determine the true settlement value of a case, your personal injury lawyer must evaluate all possible items of damage. Following is a personal injury attorney’s damage evaluation checklist that sets out all the different elements of damages for which you may be able to recover and sources of proof for each. Your attorney will consider the answer to each of these before settlement or trial.

  1. Have all aspects of pain and suffering (past, present and future) been analyzed and evaluated?
  2. Are there any witnesses who have observed, can describe, and can testify to the client’s pain and suffering?
  3. Will the medical records and physician’s testimony further document the client’s pain and suffering?
  4. Are any photographs, videotapes or films available to demonstrate the client’s pain and suffering?
  5. Are there any methods or means available to alleviate the client’s pain and suffering?
  6. Has the client made changes or alterations in lifestyle to deal with the pain and suffering?
  7. Has the client changed jobs or job functions as a result of pain?
  8. Has the client purchased any special medical support equipment to help alleviate it?
  9. Has the client undergone any special therapy to alleviate it?
  10. Does the pain and suffering arise not only from the physical injury, but also from an accompanying psychological injury?
  11. Will the physician’s report or hospital records document the client’s mental pain and suffering?
  12. Do the physicians’ reports, psychiatrists’ reports, psychologists’ reports, health care providers’ reports and hospital records all indicate that the client’s symptoms and medical/psychological problems are causally related to the trauma/incident/accident?
  13. Does the client take any medication to ease the mental pain and suffering?
  14. Is there expert medical testimony available to document and characterize the client’s pain and suffering?
  15. Has the client’s injury diminished the capacity for social activities, hobbies, or other pastimes?
  16. Has the injury changed the client’s outlook on life?
  17. Has the injury changed the client’s personality?
  18. Are there witnesses who could testify to such a change?
  19. Has the client had difficulty maintaining relationships with other people since the injury?
  20. Has the client taken up drinking or drug use since the injury?
  21. Has the client’s marriage deteriorated since the injury?
  22. Has the injury shortened the client’s life expectancy?
  23. Is there expert testimony available on this point?
  24. To what extent has the client’s life expectancy been diminished?
  25. What is the economic value of the loss of life expectancy?
  26. Is an economist available to testify on the economic impact of the shortened life expectancy?
  27. What medical expenses has the client incurred?
  28. What medical expenses will the client likely incur in the future?
  29. Has the client had to hire a nurse or homecare staff?
  30. Has the client needed to purchase medications or medical equipment?
  31. Is expert testimony available on future medical expenses?
  32. What will the medical expenses consist of?
  33. How long in the future will care be required?
  34. Is expert testimony available on the present cash value of the expenses the client will likely incur in the future?
  35. Are there claims for loss of consortium?
  36. Have the client’s children been deprived of services or companionship?
  37. Does the particular jurisdiction recognize a claim for loss of consortium based on loss of affection?
  38. What property damage has the client sustained?
  39. For how long was the client deprived of the property?
  40. Is there expert testimony on the value of the property?
  41. Has the injury caused any loss of earning capacity?
  42. Has the client been denied any prospects for advancement as a result of the injury?
  43. Has the client incurred any costs to retrain as a result of the injury?
  44. Is expert testimony available on the client’s actual loss of earnings?
  45. Is there any possibility for assessing punitive or exemplary damages against the defendant? If so, are there any constitutional, statutory or case law challenges to the imposition of punitive or exemplary damages or any restrictions or caps on the amount of such damages that may be recovered?
  46. Was the defendant’s conduct reckless, wanton, or malicious?
  47. Was alcohol or drug use involved in the accident?
  48. Was the defendant charged with criminal conduct as a result of the accident?
  49. Can the defendant’s conduct be characterized as an intentional tort?
  50. What is the financial worth of the defendant?
  51. What assets does the defendant own?
  52. What are the defendant’s liabilities?
  53. Does the defendant have insurance coverage?
  54. Are there concerns about drafting the complaint with respect to insurance coverage so that the carrier does not decline coverage on the grounds that there is the allegation of an intentional tort or a request for punitive damage on some or all counts?
  55. If the client is the estate of a deceased person, what was the decedent’s background?
  56. What was the decedent’s marital status?
  57. What was the decedent’s general health before the accident or injury?
  58. What was the decedent’s employment history?
  59. How old was the decedent at the time of death?
  60. What was the decedent’s income record for ten years before death?
  61. What was the decedent’s income likely to be if he or she lived an additional ten years?
  62. Was yearly income increasing or decreasing?
  63. Is there evidence to prove the decedent’s income (e.g., tax returns, employment records, social security records)?
  64. What was the decedent’s net worth?
  65. What expenses were incurred as a result of the injury and subsequent death?
  66. Did the decedent die instantly, or did he or she experience pain and suffering before death?
  67. What bills and expenses were incurred as a result of the death?
  68. What services did the decedent perform for the household?
  69. What is the value of the decedent’s spouse’s deprivation of his or her companionship?
  70. What is the value of the decedent’s children’s deprivation of his or her companionship?
  71. Is there expert testimony available to establish what the decedent’s future income would have been, minus the costs of self-maintenance?
  72. What was the decedent’s actuarial life expectancy?
  73. What is the present value of the decedent’s future income?
  74. Have all problems with comparative or contributory negligence, assumption of the risk, or last clear chance been analyzed?
  75. Has the statute of limitations run on any cause of action?
  76. Will any state’s “borrowing” statute be applied so as to impact on the statute of limitations?
  77. Will any jurisdiction’s “damage cap” be used to restrict the client’s rights to recover?

Attorney’s notes and comments: