Personal Injury Cases and Damages
Many clients want to know pretty quickly after they are injured what their case is worth. This is a very hard question to answer initially because the full extent of the injuries are often unknown at that time, and there are several other factors that impact the value of a personal injury case. It is never as simple as saying to a client, “Well, you suffered injury X, so your case is worth $Y.” You would not need an attorney if these cases were handled with simple charts and formulas and filling out a simple form. While some lawyers might throw out a very large number to garner some goodwill so that you will hire them, we believe an attorney-client relationship should be founded on the basis of transparency, honesty, and respect. That is why we preach patience with our clients and tell them up front that we cannot engage in case value discussions unless and until we understand the full scope of our client’s injuries. Even then, it is nearly impossible to fairly and accurately estimate what a jury might award an injured party, as juries are notoriously unpredictable.
Determining the Worth of Your Personal Injury Claim
Most of our clients are still receiving diagnosis of, or treatment on, their injuries with their doctors when they hire us. Often times many of our clients’ injuries have not manifested to the point of receiving a diagnosis. While the timing of making settlement demands is the client’s decision, we warn our clients against the dangers of settling their case before they know the full extent of their damages. If we settled the case early without knowing their damages, we are doing our clients a disservice. If you have been injured as a result of the negligent or intentional acts of others, you have only one chance to settle your case—you do not get two bites at the apple, so to speak. That is because insurance companies will require a full release of all claims be signed, which bars any future recovery. So if a client settles his or her case and then they determine that additional treatment is needed or discover new injuries that had not yet manifested, the client cannot go back to the defendant and get additional money to cover these expenses.
Simply put, there are so many different factors to determine what our client’s damages may be, that are made easier with the expertise of an attorney—how the accident happened; where the accident occurred; the client’s age and health prior to the accident; the type of accident; how much money was spent on doctors, chiropractors, and other professionals; whether the client was working when the accident occurred; how much insurance or assets the potential defendant has; how the injury will affect the rest of the client’s life; among many other factors. Two people could receive the exact same injury in the same wreck and have wildly different case values. For example, if Patrick Mahomes and I suffered shoulder injuries in the same car wreck, and we were each unable to ever throw a football again, his damages would be much substantially higher than mine, largely based on future economic loss. There are so many factors in evaluating what an injury victim’s case is worth, so it is important to investigate those factors thoroughly before an attorney can begin to advise on case values.