How does a lawyer know what is my car accident or personal injury case worth? Does the lawyer just pick a number out of the air? Does the lawyer make it up? Can I just multiply the medical times three? What is the magic secret?
I have been evaluating, settling, and trying auto accident and personal injury claims for over 38 years. The methods I have used has changed over the years as insurance company methods and verdicts have changed. Juries attitudes over the years change and tend to run in cycles. Juries can be very conservative for a period of years and then times may change. As a result, insurance companies as well as lawyers must change in order to adapt to the times. When I first started practicing law, insurance companies would add up the medicals and multiply the medicals by three and add in the lost wages.
As insurance companies started having good success trying cases, they developed a computer system called Colossus. Colossus is a computer program with information from all of the country and the insurance companies use Colossus to evaluate a claim.
Even though the insurance company uses Colossus to standardize their evaluation of the claim, a good car accident lawyer uses his own expertise and experience in order to evaluate the claim.
There are so many factors that a good car accident lawyer will consider in order to evaluate a claim. Clients insist there must be a formula, but there is not. No one really knows what a judge or jury will award in a case if the case goes to trial. But an experienced trial lawyer will have a feel for what impresses a jury and what does not impress them. There are hundreds of factors to consider.
Factors to consider include how much property damage to each car, are there pictures of the damage and do they fairly portray the damage reflected in the estimate, what visible injuries did the client sustain, did the client go to the hospital immediately,, what treatment did the client receive after the accident, are the actual injuries fractures or are they soft tissue, who was at fault in the accident, who is the client, has client ever been injured in an accident before, any prior criminal record, has client ever injured that part of the body before, did client keep their appointments with all the doctors, did the x-rays or MRIs confirm injuries.
Lawyers must look at all of the above factors as well as many others.
The first review a car accident lawyer must undertake to evaluate a car accident claim is to read all of the medical records, review any pictures they have of the damage to the car as well as pictures of any injuries. The lawyer must review the detailed medical history of his client. The lawyer must scrutinize any lost wage claim.
Finally, after considering all of the above factors as well as many other factors, the lawyer with 38 years of experience will factor in prior experience of settling similar claims for certain amounts or from actually trying similar cases and remembering what judges or juries awarded in those cases.
In summary, while I wish I could tell you it was as simple as there’s some formula but there is not. If you’d like to have a consultation to go over your injuries and for me to evaluate your claim and settle your claim or try your case, please call to make an appointment.
It is important to have a lawyer because often the only way to obtain the actual fair value of your case is to file suit or at least be able to have the credible threat of filing suit. Without one of the above, the insurance company, can pay whatever they want.
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