One of the most frequent questions clients ask at our initial meeting is: “What is my case worth?” This is a difficult question to answer, and almost impossible to resolve at the beginning of the process. Often, lawyers will inappropriately provide an estimate regarding the value – an opinion which is premature given the many different variables this determination requires. You should be very wary of such opinions, because they are used to seduce a potential client into agreeing to hire that attorney.
A determination of the damages first requires a thorough review of all of the medical records and reports. This includes the final reports after the treating doctors have concluded that the injury has improved as much as they can reasonably expect. One must review all diagnostic tests, including x-rays and MRI scans.
Secondly, we must analyze how the injuries have affected your ability to enjoy your life, i.e., do the things you like to do or need to do, such as taking care of children. These damages are very specific to the lifestyle of the client. Also of importance, is the issue of lost income and lost earning capacity. This also is very specific to the client, their job and their injury.
The amount of damages is also dependent on the amount of insurance coverage available. Big damages with limited insurance coverage limits the amount which can be recovered most of the time. This is why it is important to make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage to protect against being injured by an uninsured automobile owner. That is the only way you can protect yourself in the event of a serious injury.
Finally, fault plays a big role in determining the amount of damages you recover. If there is comparative fault, your damages can be reduced by the degree to which you were responsible. This is usually a matter of opinion unless a jury verdict is returned, but it will affect the analysis of the amount of damages to which you are entitled. Insurance companies often try to use this as leverage when discussing value, so it can present a very real issue in trying to settle an injury case.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when estimating the value of a case – most of which cannot be known within a day or two of an accident. Understand that any ethical attorney should inform you of these issues and temper any estimate of the value of a case until further information is acquired and assessed.
Do not fall for the bait and switch. We will not tell you your case is great at first meeting, and later try to sell you on a settlement that leaves you dissatisfied. At our firm, we let out clients know that the evaluation that counts is the one that occurs with full knowledge of all of the facts regarding your case.
If you want to know what our bodily injury lawyers can do for you, contact us today.