What is my case worth? Many people want to know the value of their case when they first meet with a personal injury lawyer. To be able to answer that fairly, the client needs to answer these 5 questions for the lawyer.
1) Are your injuries documented?
Basically, did you immediately get treatment following the accident or did you delay a month? That month will allow the adjuster to claim that you may have sustained the accident somewhere else or that you aren’t really hurt from the accident. While many attorneys accurately state that “injuries drive the value of a case,” that is only true where injuries are actually documented.
2) Did you receive treatment?
Did you get treatment for your injures and did you stick to the treatment plan? This gets tricky because many people will answer yes to the first part of the question but have a lot of excuses regarding that latter part of the question. If you aren’t following the treatment plan, why aren’t you? There needs to be a very legitimate reason. Are you seeking alternative therapies or getting second opinions? If you simply don’t want to go to medical appointments, that will reduce the value of your case.
3) What was the cost of your treatment?
How much money has been spent by you or your insurance on medical bills? Do you have large bills (CAT scans or MRI) or did you decide to get a massage or two and stop treating? One person might have prolonged neck pain so they get an MRI. Other clients will see the chiropractor for 5 visits and assume the pain will gradually go away. Generally speaking, the two clients won’t have the same case value.
4) What was the amount of the property damage?
How much damage was done to your car or motorcycle? Did you document it? Just like injuries, it is important to document body damage immediately. Taking pictures is critical and noting any damage to the inside of a vehicle as well. If an insurance company is disputing the severity of your injuries, it is helpful to have a picture of your totaled vehicle.
5) Is there insurance?
What insurance policies are at play? Was the negligent driver uninsured? Did the negligent driver have a policy through an employer? Do you have PIP or UIM? If you or the other party were driving rental cars, was additional insurance purchased? This is the difficult part of the equation. While a person may be entitled to $500,000 for their injuries, there needs to be a policy available. Sometimes, the policy limits are $250,000 and that will be the most that the injured person can recover. Again, finding insurance policies is an investigation. See our other blog on 5 Ways to Ruin Your Personal Injury Case and refer to point #3! Never believe a negligent driver when he tells you he doesn’t have insurance. That should always be confirmed by your attorney or insurance company.
Witt Law Group PS is a personal injury and criminal defense law firm with officers in Gig Harbor and Bremerton Washington.