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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What's that injury worth? Find out now!

Have you ever tried out an online personal injury calculator? If you’ve got a couple of minutes to fritter away (and don’t mind giving your e-mail address to a potential spam source), it can be amusing to conjure up maladies and mishaps and get an idea of what they might be worth in a trial or settlement.

I started small, with a broken collarbone that kept me from working for three months and was half somebody else’s fault. Even though I estimated the cost of the injury at $2,000, the PI calculator let me know that I could reap as much as $6,000 if I made a claim.

Flush with success, I decided to go for the gusto. I pretended that my promising NFL career was dashed after I suffered a severe neck injury, for which the imaginary other party (perhaps the modern equivalent of Jack Tatum) was completely at fault, and was being uncooperative to boot.

Bingo! I could be looking at a windfall of $2.2 million. I’d be looking at it from a wheelchair, but still.

I don’t mean to make light of truly tragic cases that result in personal injury claims – or to suggest that you shouldn’t contact a real-life lawyer if you get hurt – but if nothing else, online personal injury calculators demonstrate that the “value” of injuries and medical disasters has become so standardized that an online robot can tally it up.

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