When we meet with accident victims, there is one question that is most frequently asked: What is my case worth?
It’s understandable, of course, that injured clients would ask this question. After all, they are retaining our office to get them a settlement, so it’s only natural that they would want to know, right from the outset, how much to expect.
Nevertheless, for numerous reasons, the actual value of an injury claim can rarely be predicted immediately after an accident when the injured client is still recovering. What appears to be a minor injury in the days after an accident might develop into something much more serious. When this happens, the case value can change dramatically.
For example, we have met with clients shortly after an accident when it appears that the injuries are relatively minor, perhaps just lower back strain or some other soft-tissue injury. As time goes on, however, the injury sometimes doesn’t get better, and the client eventually undergoes diagnostic testing that reveals something more serious, like disc herniation. The client who once seemed to have a minor injury is now facing back surgery, prolonged absences from work, and a life-changing situation. The case that appeared relatively small at the time of our first meeting might now be much more significant, perhaps even into six-digit territory.
The above is just one example of why early predictions of case value should be taken with a grain of salt. A claim can be fairly evaluated only after the client’s treatment has been allowed to progress. We work with our clients to monitor their injuries and treatment, and we evaluate cases for settlement purposes at the appropriate time, which most certainly is not at the time of our intake. After we get all medical records and other relevant information, we can then discuss case value from an informed standpoint.
If you meet with a lawyer who says he or she can tell you the value of your claim without reviewing your medical records, be highly skeptical. Experienced injury lawyers know that every injury claim is unique, and that value can only be determined after thorough review of medical records and other evidence.