How does a personal injury attorney determine value of the case? 21 Answers as of May 19, 2015

I was the victim in a very traumatizing traffic accident 3 months ago. I am still recovering. My husband and I were driving when we were T-boned and our car was totaled. My leg was broken, I had lacerations to my face and arm, and received several burns. We are thinking about pursuing this further because of the extent of our injuries. How do personal injury attorneys actually determine the initial value of a case like ours? We do not know which ballpark figures to trust.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Boesen Law, LLC
Boesen Law, LLC | Jon C. Boesen
An experienced personal injury attorney will look at many factors to determine the value of a case. The first factor is to determine and establish the other driver was 100% at fault. If the insurance carrier can argue that you were partially to blame for the accident, then they will argue that your case should be discounted for the percentage of blame they try to assign to you. If the other driver is determined to be 100% at fault, then the carrier cannot argue (successfully) that you should be paid less because the accident was partially your fault. The second factor an experienced personal injury lawyer will look at is causation. Causation is showing the other driver's insurance carrier that the injuries and losses you have suffered are a result of this accident. It may sound simple, but insurance carriers will often argue (if you have any history of injuries or problems before this accident) that some or all of your injuries and problems are due to or were caused by a prior injury or accident. Your lawyer's job is to clarify and clearly establish that any injuries and losses/damages you have are as a result of this accident. The third factor in determining value of a case, is to determine what your damages are from the accident. Damages are what you ask the other driver's insurance company to pay or compensate you for, as a result of their driver's negligence. Damages are broken down into economic and non-economic. Economic damages include past and future medical bills and treatment expenses, past lost wages and income and probable future lost wages/income. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and permanent physical impairment (if your physical injuries are going to continue to be a problem and you do not experience a 100% recovery). An experienced personal injury lawyer will early on in the process of handling your case, help you establish and document your damages/losses so that when it is time to make a demand to the other driver's insurance carrier to settle your case, you'll have the evidence to back up what you are demanding the insurance carrier pay you for your losses.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 5/19/2015
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
Thank you for a well thought-out question. All too often, people will ask "how much is my case worth", not realizing the process that goes in to case evaluation. Assessment of damages in a personal injury case requires detailed analysis of liability, the injuries, and the effect of those injuries upon the individual. This analysis includes application of legal principles, evidentiary factors, medical documentation, out of pocket expenses, calculation of future losses and experience in your jurisdiction as to likely range of prospective jury awards. So, first, there is the matter of liability, and the police accident report is the first thing we look at there. Next, of course are all of the medical records, then the loss of income and potential loss of future income. After that, come subtleties: the age of the victim with regard to permanent disability and disfigurement; how well do I think a jury would kie this person, should the case come to trial; the attitude of a prospective jury pool; typical verdicts in similar cases. . I usually spend about 4 - 6 hours reviewing a file once it is complete in order to determine my settlement position. I'd be skeptical of a lawyer who would just sit behind his desk, look up at the ceiling and give you a number that he thinks you will like, even more so of someone who would give you a number after a three-minute phone conversation.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/18/2015
Gregory M Janks, PC
Gregory M Janks, PC | Gregory M Janks
Attorneys will usually use a # of sources to put a "ballpark" value on any pi claim. They will use their personal experience and mentally compare your liability situation, and your injuries/damages, with other similar cases they have handled. They can do research online and/or with verdict reporting services to try to find similar cases in the jurisdiction that applies to your case. They can also consult colleagues to "pick their brains" relative to your facts/damages and what knowledge they have about settlements/verdicts of similar cases. As insurance companies tend to do, they can also add up your "specials" (ie: wage loss, medical bills - past, present and future) and use a "multiplier" or "factor" and apply it to the "special damages" figure. Insurance companies also use computer programs to establish what they might pay on a case, and although I've never checked into whether such programs also exist in the public domain, that may be another way of coming up with a value.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/18/2015
Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
Every case is different depending on all the facts, including whether a group of strangers called a jury will want to help you fully recover. Medical costs and lost wages are a start but no one would exchange money just for this loss, however, juries are not known to be generous unless they are truly motivated by something. That is what is always difficult to assess. Understandably, most victims feel suffering is worth more than insurance adjusters. Attorneys can level the negotiation table.
Answer Applies to: Montana
Replied: 5/18/2015
James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C.
James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C. | Jim Hasser
Without going into a dissertation, I would simply say, by knowledge and experience. Do your due diligence by way of research and seriously consider consulting an experienced injury lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/18/2015
    Candiano Law Office
    Candiano Law Office | Charles J. Candiano
    Your recovery will probably be limited by the available insurance. Your injuries are worth more than $100,000.00 but if you both had minimum insurance, you won't recover more than $20,000.00. Beyond this, you MUST repay your health insurance or Medicare.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/18/2015
    Ty Wilson Law | Ty Wilson
    Determination of the value of your claim, is not possible if you do not know the full and complete extent of your injuries. If you have received burns you likely have not completed treatment to determine the extent of the injuries. Also, you may benefit from speaking with a professional about the traumatizing wreck. Anyone who explains a value maybe someone you want to stay away from. There are a lot of items that go into proving damages and typically in serious car wreck they take a lot longer than three months. What is important at this time is in speaking with several attorneys and finding one that you are comfortable with in handling you case.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/18/2015
    Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
    Speak to several local attorneys; there will be no charge for an initial consultation. It may actually be too early since you have not yet made as much of a physical recovery as you will. ?Coming up with a value is a big guess involving a lot of factors that the attorneys should tell you about.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/18/2015
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    It is an involved process. The case should not be settled until you are at maximum medical improvement. You cannot settle more than one time and you need to know what the future care will be. Numerous factors include the medical bills, lost wages, permanent impairment, activity limitations. Prior injuries, Knowing the insurance company and what hundreds of similar cases go for among many other factors. An insurance company will give only a small percentage to those without counsel. They know you are not able to file suit.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Law Offices of Carl L. Brown | Carl L. Brown
    Your case will be evaluated upon the basis of the liability facts and evidence supporting the nature & extent of your injuries and damages. There is no formula to apply. The adverse insurance company, if any , will pay as little as possible to settle your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney who is willing to try cases can level the playing field.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    The Law Offices of Russell Gregory, P.C.
    The Law Offices of Russell Gregory, P.C. | Russell Gregory
    To be very honest with you, before even considering extent of injuries (beyond having to meet the state mandatory threshold, which yours certainly do), the primary factors are 1) the amount of insurance coverage available, and 2) the personal collectability of any and all potential defendants (for example, the other driver). This is because final resolution will always depend upon whether, and how much, money is available. No one can estimate what your matter might be worth, without first knowing these two things. That being said, there may be much to discuss as to both 1 and 2, above, depending upon what you know about them at this point. Is there coverage, and how much? Are any potential defendants significantly collectible? These questions are a starting point for full discussion of the matter, which is needed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
    That would be experience.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Hobbs Law Group
    Hobbs Law Group | Kristin E. Hobbs
    The amount of settlement depends on the extent of the injuries, what future care will be needed, past and future lost earnings, lost earning capacity and past and future pain and suffering. The policy limits will also need to be evaluated. If you are still hurting 3 months later, this is not a minor accident and you should have an attorney represent you. Most of us offer free consultations and take cases on a contingency so there is no need to wait to contact an attorney. All too often we will get a case where someone tried to do it on their own and didn't handle it correctly. You need a personal injury attorney to walk you through the medical treatment and to keep the insurance company in line.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Is extremely difficult to give a estimate of the value of a case on a telephone or first interview. The most relevant facts are your actual damages, which appear to be quite severe. I would most certainly suggest that you consult with an attorney now before you sign any documents which you might not fully understand and which could cause your rights to be severely impacted.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    The 'dollar value' of damages is inherently uncertain, especially near the beginning of a case. The lawyer should question you closely about all the facts of the accident, and all the effects of the accident on your life (medical bills, additional costs for household work, lost wages, pain and suffering both temporary and permanent, loss of pleasurable activities, effect on sex life, etc. etc.) The lawyer will probably consult one of the journals or treatises which examine settlements and jury verdicts in this State and throughout the country, and apply the premium or discount which has been calculated on the averages as applying to awards in the given county. A very weak rule of thumb is 'three times specials.' That is, add up the total of the special damages meaning those which can be readily measured in dollars, and multiply by 3 for a final settlement. My own experience is that this is not a very reliable rule of thumb, but it could be a starting point for thinking things through. Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    End, Hierseman & Crain, LLC | J. Michael End
    There is no simple way to figure that out. A lawyer must determine what the medical bills are; how much time off work had to be taken and what the wage loss was; whether there will be medical bills in the future, and, if so, how much those will probably be; whether there will be any impairment of earning capacity in the future because of the injuries; whether the injuries will be permanent in nature; and the degree of pain and disability, past and future. The facts of the accident also factor in, since contributory negligence on the part of the injured party may result in a reduction in the recovery. Also, health insurers who paid bills incurred because of the accident usually have a right to recover the amount of the bills the health insurer paid. The type of health insurance may make a difference in whether or not the health insurer needs to be paid back.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Pius Joseph A Professional Law Corp. | Pius Joseph
    In personal injury cases the value of the case depends on various factors: These are some of the factors: 1. Your harms and losses: This will depend on the nature of your injury. Eg. Fractures,surgery etc will increase the value depending the nature of healing. If you have ongoing residual problems , limitations, prophylactic restrictions, ongoing pain, all these are factors that increase case value. You collect General Damages(Pain and suffering,emotional Distress) and Economic damages(Medical bills past and future, loss of income and earning capacity,if you lost time from work and is unable to work due to physical limitations) are all recoverable. Finally, the negotiation will depend on the insurance policy limits and the skill of your lawyer. These days, a lot of times insurance companies may make offers inherently low and you will have to work those numbers up. Insurance company always evaluate your case based on statistical data and case jurisdiction. So your case value greatly depends on the nature of your injuries, your past and future medical expenses, and pain and restrictions . Your case can be in a six figure value but can only be analyzed only by having specific details including review of your medical records.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates | Barry Rabovsky
    A case like yours requires careful review of the existing injuries, bills, and medical records. In your case, you would also want to investigate any future consequences as a result of your broken leg, as well as whether you will have any disfigurement as a result of your lacerations and burns.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Ankerholz and Smith
    Ankerholz and Smith | Rian F. Ankerholz
    Great question! Personal injury attorneys must rely on their knowledge of injuries, admissible evidence, trial experience, and local jury tendencies to evaluate a case. It appears that you have substantial injuries. Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. Time limitations apply, so do not delay. We are here to help.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Law Offices of Richard M. Levy P.C.
    Law Offices of Richard M. Levy P.C. | Richard M. Levy
    Attorneys base their numbers on their experience with what similar cases generally settle/verdicts obtain.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/15/2015
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    Many lawyers subscribe to a service that outlines the results of cases which have gone to trial. Beyond that, it's largely a matter of experience, so make sure that your lawyer has been around long enough to accumulate that experience. Remember that the ins. co. adjuster has a job, which is to pay you as little as possible. Don't expect him/her to be on your side.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/15/2015
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney