HOW MUCH IS MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE WORTH?
By: Peter M. Hileman, Esq.
The Top Seven Factors
One reason to select an experienced personal injury law firm such as Drake, Hileman & Davis to handle your personal injury case is that we have the experience and judgment to provide you with a reasonable estimate of the amount of compensation that you can expect to receive.
Don’t be misled by what you may have read or heard elsewhere. A trained professional can provide you with a realistic value range for your case. Insurance companies routinely value personal injury cases to decide whether they should settle or try them, and for how much. (Some even use powerful computer software programs to do so.) Just as insurance companies have claim valuation tools at their disposal to guide their decisions, you need a good lawyer on your side who understands how to value your case and knows what to do in order to ensure that you receive full value for your claim.
A good trial lawyer knows how to appropriately assess the relevant facts and factors that go into valuing your claim. This evaluation process is part art and part science. However, there is no substitute for experience and good judgment.
These are the top seven factors that go into determining the value of a personal injury case:
- Liability. Who is at fault for your injury, and how clear is their responsibility? The value of your case is greater if the other party is clearly and solely at fault; lesser if liability is uncertain or shared with you.
- Damages. How serious are your injuries? Are they permanent or temporary? Did you suffer broken bones, loss of a bodily function, scarring or some other objective injury? Have you lost money (economic losses), incurred pain and suffering, or both? Is your ability to recover damages limited by law, contract or your choice of the limited tort option on your auto insurance policy?
- Causation. Was your injury or loss caused solely by the accident, or is it due wholly or partly to a pre-existing or unrelated condition?
- Location. Where did the accident or injury occur? Where do you live? If your case must go to trial, where will the trial be held? A case that must be tried in rural county seat may be worth less than a similar case tried in a major city.
- Source of payment. Even if you win or settle your case, you must be able to recover your award. Is there adequate insurance, or are there other sources of payment to assure that you will be fully compensated?
- You. Much of the value of your case depends on you. How good a witness are you, and what impression will you make on a jury? How did you react, and what did you say, at the time of the accident (to the other party, the police or medical personnel)? Did you seek treatment promptly and continuously after your injury? Are your claims credible and has your treatment been reasonable? Some of these factors are objective; others are intangible.
- Your attorney. Just as important as the other factors is the skill, knowledge and diligence of your lawyer. To get the full value of your case, you need a lawyer who is experienced in handling cases that are similar to yours in the county where your case will be tried. That lawyer must fully investigate and analyze your case and make sure that all potential legal theories and sources of recovery have been explored.
We have represented many clients whose prior attorney weakened their case and lessened its value. Beware of these warning signs. A bad lawyer who will diminish the value of your case: (1) makes unrealistic or inflated promises at the outset of your case; (2) fails to investigate quickly and fully; (3) fails to ask good questions of you and others; (4) fails to creatively explore various legal theories of recovery; and/or (5) fails to consider all sources of recovery. If your attorney is not doing his or her job competently, you will not receive the full recovery that for which you are entitled.
At Drake, Hileman & Davis, we have been winning cases for your neighbors for more than 25 years.
If you are interesting in discussing your personal injury case with us, visit our website at: www.dhdpersonalinjurylaw.com. Contact us for your free case analysis and evaluation. We think you will be glad you did.