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How much is my case worth?

This is often the first question a client asks after giving an attorney a rundown of the facts and the medical treatment. Thanks to daily media reports and the constant stream of attorney advertisements promising big recoveries, a client’s view of the value of a case is often unrealistic. The problem is that at the front end of a case it is virtually impossible for an attorney, or anyone for that matter, to accurately value a client’s case.

Below are some key elements attorneys consider when arriving at a value range for a case:

1. Liability/Injuries

The severity of the injuries and the cause of the harm are both important factors when considering value. If a jury (or an insurance company) sees a dispute about the responsibility of each party for the injuries, they may “split the baby” on liability.

In other words, a jury (or an insurance company) may put part of the blame on the person injured. If that happens, even a large verdict may be worth only a portion of the award.  Moreover, if a jury puts more than 50% responsibility on a Plaintiff for causing her own injuries, the Plaintiff gets nothing. In short, the more the Defendant can be held responsible, the more valuable the case may be.   

2. Insurance Coverage

The minimum coverage limits in Texas are $30,000.00 per person and $60,000.00 per occurrence. In other words, if a minimum limits policy is the only source of recovery, a multi-million dollar case is worth only the amount the insurance company is contractually obligated to pay. If the responsible party has a large insurance policy, the Defendant may be able to recover more money. 

Plaintiffs may have additional coverage in the form of Personal Injury Protection, Med Pay, Uninsured Motorist, or Homeowner’s coverage that may be available if the Defendant does not have enough money. Remember, a verdict is just a number. There has to be money to collect in order to recover. 

3. Venue

The place where a lawsuit can (or may) be filed will drastically affect the value of a case. Juries in certain parts of the state are more apt to award damages for pain and suffering and mental anguish, for instance. If the opposing lawyer and the other party’s insurance company see a big risk at the courthouse, they will offer more money to resolve the case before trial. 

4. Actual Medical Bills/Damage

If a client experiences an awful accident but is not injured, a claim for personal injury does not exist. Conversely, if a client is in a minor accident but suffers a catastrophic injury, the claim will be worth much more. 

A client’s actual medical bills and actual out-of-pocket costs can be submitted to a jury for reimbursement. Attorneys use this number, adjusted for insurance payments and other factors, as a general guideline to determine the value RANGE of a case.

Conclusion: There are many factors, including the ones discussed above, that go into determining the value of a case. Every case is different, but generally, attorneys attempt to assign a value range to each case. This range cannot be determined until the medical treatment, lost wages, and other actual costs are solidified along with any future medical care or treatment a client may need. 



 

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