How Much Is My Injury Case Worth?
The first question my automobile accident clients often ask me is “How much is my case worth?”
We explain that it is not possible to value a case at the first meeting. We do, however, inform our clients as to how insurance companies value cases.
- Liability is one of the most prominent ways. Was the other driver solely at fault? Did the other driver commit negligence? Has our client caused or contributed to the accident? Although most states are “comparative negligence” states, Maryland is not one of them. In comparative negligence states, if the other driver was 80% at fault and you were 20% at fault, your recovery could be 80% of what the jury determined as your damages. If the jury decided your damages were $25,000, in a comparative negligence state your award would be $20,000 less attorney’s fees and costs. But in the State of Maryland, if you were 1% negligent and the other driver was 99% at fault, you would receive nothing.
- Medical treatment -- Did you go to an emergency room, go by ambulance, or go to your primary care physician, and when? At the first medical facility, did you report all of your injuries or later on describe additional injuries? There are many reasons for reporting injuries a week or more from the date of the accident. These include that the most painful injuries are reported first and as that primary condition improves, you realize other pain; or that when you return to work after being off, you experience new pain from both the injuries and the physical demands of the job. Another reason might be that your primary care physician put down in his record the wrong body part or the nurse in the emergency room made mistakes in identifying all of your injuries.
- Appropriate treatment that is causally-related to the accident. Here there are many issues including: has the treating physician adequately noted how the medical treatment you received is causally-related to the accident and that the medical treatment is reasonable and necessary and the fees reasonable? If a client is overly treated, this will be a factor with which insurance companies and juries are not impressed and may result in a lesser outcome. At our first meeting with a client, we advise that client to follow the recommendations of his/her physicians. However, if after numerous treatments of physical therapy, the client experiences marginal benefit, we encourage that client to discuss the issue with both the treating physician and the physical therapist and/or chiropractor. A test question we often ask our clients is this: Despite having health insurance or Personal Injury Protection benefits to pay for your treatment, would you pay out-of-pocket for that treatment?
- Has the insurance company made a reasonable offer and what are the anticipated costs of litigation? Your lawyer should be able to give a range of recovery based on prior experience of the place where suit is filed. No lawyer can guarantee a result and the result may be less after expenses than the insurance company’s last offer before trial. To predict with reasonable certainty is not possible at the first meeting of attorney and client.
I go over the above criteria with each of my clients who come to me with personal injury claims. I answer their questions. We develop a joint strategy of either trying to work out a settlement or filing suit.
Fred Antenberg has over 30 years’ experience advising clients on the range of work of personal injury cases. Call Fred today for a free initial consultation at 410-730-4404.