By far the most frequently asked question we personal injury attorneys are faced with upon signing up a new client, is, “what’s my claim worth?”
And it’s not a crass question of “what can I expect to put in my pocket?” It’s a very personal inquiry regarding the value of one’s health and welfare. Now that you’ve had the pins knocked out from under you and you’re in pain, missing work, maybe without a car, taking time out to see doctors and have a very uncertain medical future, of course you’d want to know how lawyers and juries place a number on your pain and suffering, and therefore you, as an individual.
While everyone is different, every pain is personal and everyone’s medical history is unique, believe it or not, we seasoned personal injury attorneys do have a calculated range of what an individual’s claim might be worth. But it is a range. There are many variables that go into valuating a case. Just some variables are the age of the client, past medical history, the severity of the crash, the physicians seen, the medical bills accumulated, and how badly injured the client is, in general. What is his/her medical prognosis? Is he a candidate for surgery? Has surgery already been completed?
When you first enter the office of a personal injury attorney and your accident was recent, it’s like you were dealt a hand of cards except all the cards are face down. You’ve been dealt a hand, but we can only truly value the hand once these cards are turned over, one by one.
As time goes by and you’re seeing a doctor and you have a working diagnosis, a treatment plan and now you’re back to work, the strength of your hand gets clearer and clearer. At the end of your treatment plan – usually 6 months to one year – we can now sit down and fully assess the range of value your claim has.
Don’t get me wrong. Your personal injury attorney cannot tell you precisely what your case is worth or even if it will settle within that range with the insurance company representative.
What we can do is to call on our years of experience in doing this, and we also have help. There are publications and services out there that many personal injury attorneys subscribe to that let us know what juries are doing throughout the State, county by county when they award money to plaintiffs who were injured through no fault of their own. Injuries are broken down, physicians’ identities are listed and medical specials (bills) are itemized.
So, when we determine the range of value of your case, we are doing so as a studied estimation of our knowledge and our research. Many a smart personal injury attorney also picks up the phone and asks our colleagues who are only too happy to weigh in with an opinion of their own!