One of the most frequent questions asked by clients is, “How much is my case worth?” The truth is, every case is different from all other cases because no two fact patterns are exactly the same. For this reason, two injury victims who have suffered the same physical injury may have claims that are worth significantly different amounts. In addition, cases are living, breathing things that change as evidence is developed. For that reason, timing is very important when evaluating a case. So, what actually is considered when evaluating injury claims?
Every case has two parts. First, there is the liability or negligence part of the case. Then, there is the damage part. With regard to negligence it is necessary, among other things, to consider: “What is the law that applies to the case?” In a comparative negligence state, the negligence of the defendant and injury victim is considered. So, we look at how strong the proof of negligence is on the part of the defendent and we must determine if the client was responsible in whole or in part for the accident. If so, we must consider how much the damages will be reduced to account for the client’s own negligence.
On the damage side of the case, we must look at the nature of the injuries suffered by the client, taking into consideration the following questions:
1. What is the nature of the injury?
2. Was surgery required to treat the injury?
3. Was any hardware implanted during surgery?
4. Will future surgery be required?
5. What are the anticipated costs for future surgery and rehabilitation?
6. Are there any scars?
7. How much time was there disability from work?
8. Is there a permanent disability from work?
9. What is the total of the past and future wage loss?
10. Will specialized care be required in the future? If so, for how long?
As you can see, there are many factors that must be considered when evaluating a personal injury case. Except in minor injury cases, it is impossible for a lawyer to give an accurate professional opinion on the value of an injury claim until a lot of work has been done and most of the medical treatment of the injuries has concluded. If a lawyer is willing to tell you what your case is worth during a free consult, it should raise questions how that is possible to do in an accurate way.