Why Can’t My Lawyer Immediately Tell Me What My Personal Injury Case Is Worth?
The most common question that victims of serious personal injuries ask their lawyers when their case begins is: “How much is my case worth?” While clients may believe, at first, that, because their lawyer professes to be an expert in personal injury accidents, he or she should immediately be able to place a dollar value on their case, the truth is not so simple. In fact, any personal injury attorney who claims to be able to value your case immediately – that is to say, before a thorough investigation is done, before the case is filed and, most importantly, before the discovery process concludes – is not to be trusted because the answer to this question can not be determined until long after a case begins. The process by which the best personal injury lawyers value a case requires thorough analysis of a litany of factors, many of which are common to all cases, but some of which may not be obvious to even the most talented personal injury lawyers early on in a case.
HOW DO TOP PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS ANALYZE YOUR CASE?
It is certainly true that the most important factor in determining the value of any personal injury case is the nature of the injury itself. However, experienced personal injury lawyers know that the analysis of the total value of a case only begins with an understanding of the injury. A litany of factors – some of which are present in the vast majority of cases, and some of which are unique to a particular accident case – influence total value. These factors include, but are by no means limited to: (1) The ultimate degree of responsibiliity born by the defendants (i.e., can it be proven that the defendants are truly legally responsible), (2) contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiffs, (3) the availability of insurance coverage and/or other funds with which to pay a judgment, (4) the quality of evidence including the testimony of witnesses to be called at trial (especially the testimony of the plaintiffs and defendants themselves), and (5) the presence of any aggravating factors that might influence a jury, either positively or negatively, in its evaluation of your case (i.e., whether or not the plaintiff is a child, or whether there was particularly egregious conduct committed in the case). These are by no means the only criteria, but are provided to give you an understanding of why a good lawyer will not be able to give you an answer to the question of value at the beginning of a case: it is because so much remains to be determined that any answer given can be misleading. Indeed, even thorughout the course of the actual trial of your personal injury case itself, your lawyer’s opinion regarding the value of your case can change after a single witness takes the stand.
To discuss issues relating to the value of your personal injury accident case, please give me a call at (718) 354-8000. My expert team of personal injury lawyers stands ready to assist you in determining a fair value for your case; we will work tirelessly to help you achieve it.