It may not be the first or even the second question on your mind, but inevitably all of our clients want to know: How much is my personal injury case worth? Not only is that a reasonable question, it is the most important question.
We don’t hide from answering questions like this, but we always ask our clients to step back and look at the big picture first. Before we can answer an important question like that, we need to consider whether the client has recovered sufficiently from her injuries to even make an assessment. Personal injury cases are almost always settled on a lump sum basis, and the injury victim is always asked to sign a release of all liability. If you settle for too little, too soon or for too little, you may come to regret it.
But if the time is right, asking how much the case is worth is a valid and appropriate question. We use a formula which is deceptively simple: we go to the Virginia Model Jury Instructions and review each item for which compensation can be awarded. Then, we deduct a factor for the cost, delay, inconvenience and risk that the client will endure in bringing the matter to court. Simple, right?
Of course, it is not always so simple. While some of the items which are recoverable are straightforward (for example, past and future medical bills), certain other items are hard to calculate such as pain, suffering, disfigurement, etc. In the end, there is no substitute for an experienced trial attorney and his or her knowledge of local cases and local courts. In fact, there are a number of jury verdict services and attorney publications which advise us as to case outcomes. Some outcomes are positive, some are not. By weighing all of this data and considering what it will cost to bring the matter to court, we can come up with a reasonably accurate prediction in most cases.
So, what is your case worth? It can sometimes be difficult to tell. Patience and forthright reporting to professionals and a realistic expectation can help clarify matters and get the case resolved for its maximum realistic value.