Usually, one of the first questions that a personal injury lawyer gets is “How much is my case worth?”. The true answer is that any case is worth exactly what 12 jurors who are completely unknown to you and unknown to your lawyer would award sometime in the future after hearing some evidence of what happened to you and some evidence of how the other driver or at-fault party was negligent and, therefore, responsible for some part of your damages.
Get an Honest Assessment!
First, any lawyer who tells you on day one that your case is worth “x” dollars is not being honest with you. An honest assessment of value requires that your lawyer know all the strengths and weaknesses of a case. One of the first issues that is often contested is liability for an accident. Witnesses and video/photographic information are not always available. You can imagine the number of times that people deny being in the wrong which causes police officers, insurance companies, and lawyers, none of whom saw the accident, to surmise and establish what actually happened. People often are mistaken about their fault or outright lie – It happens. It actually happens a lot. Dash cams are helpful, but otherwise you are usually relying on the honesty of the other driver or the presence of witnesses.
Clear Liability Doesn’t Mean Full Recovery
Assume that you are able to demonstrate that liability is clear and that the other party is at fault, don’t think for a minute that you are now ensured a full and fair recovery of damages for your injury or property damage. The insurance company machine kicks in and makes sure that your car is repaired or valued in a manner that is favorable to the insurance company. The law assumes that everyone involved in an accident is independently wealthy and can go buy another vehicle while you fight and argue with an insurance company about the parts used in the repair of your car or about the value of your vehicle as a total loss. Hint, your car is never worth as much as you think it is when you start asking an insurance company to pay for the loss.
Monday Morning Quarterbacking
Ok. Assume you have reasonably gotten past the initial issues of liability for the accident and resolved the property damage to your satisfaction. Now comes time to talk about the value of your personal injury claim. Are you finished treating with your doctors? Until you are released, it remains hard to know the full extent of you damages and the value of your claim. If you are released, the adjuster is going to want to see your medical records and bills. Your medical records may reveal that you had some physical or other medical issues before the accident, which gets insurance adjusters excited because they can point their fingers at a pre-existing problem rather than a new problem caused by their insured driver. If you are lucky enough to never have had any reason to go to the doctor before the accident, then the insurance adjuster will just rely on the good ole standby argument that not all of your bills and treatment were reasonable or necessary. Weird right, the insurance adjuster somehow knows better than your own doctors what you needed. This is the very definition of Monday Morning Quarterbacking and it happens all the time.
Why the Lawyers and Experts?
Next you must confront the complicating issues of liens and health insurance subrogation. These are tough issues for lawyer experts to navigate. Would you know how to handle them? Bills need to be paid, liens need to be honored, subrogation owed to health insurance companies need to be satisfied.
Lost wages is another tricky area. Are you salaried? Are you paid under the table without paying taxes? There are many pitfalls to making this part of a claim. Will you know how to handle these pitfalls?
What about the physical pain and emotional suffering associated with your injuries? For this part of a claim, there is no fixed formula to calculate damages. The answer is that the value equals what twelve jurors would give you once they heard what a judge allows them to hear. Not all of your evidence may get in, not all of the at-fault driver’s bad acts may get in, and things that are harmful to you may come in even though they are not directly related to the injuries you sustained in this accident.
How Do I Get an Experienced Case Evaluation?
It is a balancing act that is best served by hiring an experienced trial lawyer to assist you in properly valuing your injury claim. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Jason E Taylor, P.C. are experienced in valuing cases and, while we enjoy litigating when necessary, we also recognize the importance of using our skills and the art of working with insurance companies to get you reasonable offers for your injury case. We are always happy to explain why we feel that the value of a case is what we believe it to be and you can rest assured that we have the experience in negotiating case values to back it up. Contact us today, it won’t cost you a penny.