“How much is my personal injury case worth?” This is a question that Kenneth Hancock, Personal Injury Attorney at Hancock Law, hears frequently. Timing in asking this varies greatly depending on clients’ end goals, but it’s a fair question. Naturally, in hiring a personal injury attorney, you’re hiring them to get a recovery for you.
Kenneth suggests being thoughtful when asking this question, as some personal injury attorneys may be wary of potential clients whose first question is, “How much am I going to get?”. It is perfectly reasonable for this question to come up at the end of the first meeting with your attorney because you will often discuss damages, such as property damage, physical injuries, and lost wages.
Unfortunately, that’s impossible to know. There are numerous factors that weigh in on determining the value of a case, but Kenneth Hancock focuses on four main factors: liability, damages, coverage, and credibility.
Your case valuation can change throughout the lifecycle of your case. If not at your first meeting, these factors will almost certainly be discussed when settlement discussions begin. These factors will also.be reviewed in-depth at your risk assessment meeting if the insurance company refuses to offer fair money to settle your case.
Who caused the accident? Generally, Hancock Law represents clients who were injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident and who are not at fault. That being said, not every case is black and white. It is always prudent to call a personal injury attorney, no matter which side of the case you’re on.
The main things that will be considered under liability are exactly how the accident happened and whether you were wearing your seatbelt. Failure to wear your seatbelt can be used as a comparative negligence argument. This means the insurance company will try to argue that you are at least partially responsible for your own injuries.
“But, the other driver got the ticket!”
While this may be true, traffic tickets aren’t admissible in a civil case to prove liability. Regardless of who the police officer found at fault, a jury in your civil case will never hear of it.
Damages are typically unknown at the time of your first meeting, which is a significant reason that it’s hard for any attorney to tell you upfront how much you might recover. Kenneth would go so far as to say you should run from an attorney who tries to tell you what your case is worth at the first meeting because this factor (damages) is unknown.
In a motor vehicle accident, Florida law allows you to recover past/future medical expenses, wage losses, and — IF you have a permanent injury — pain and suffering. Past medical expenses are the most objective measure of damages because we have medical bills to prove how much your accident-related treatment costs you. In addition to any medical bills for treatment provided at your first meeting with your personal injury attorney, you will have ongoing treatment and resulting bills. Kenneth will evaluate both the total amount billed and the total amount owed from your first visit to your last.
Generally, insurance companies will offer anywhere between two and five times the amount of your medical expenses to settle your case. This number may be much smaller or much larger depending on the circumstances, but that range is an easy way for the insurer to evaluate your case.
This factor refers to the available insurance coverage, which any attorney will be able to discover quickly. Kenneth will look at the coverage in your policy as well as that of the other driver. Available coverages in part dictate the size of recovery. This varies based on the different types of accidents in which you happen to be involved.
Available coverages in part dictate the size of recovery. Big injuries might have small recoveries and smaller injuries might have bigger recoveries solely because of the amount of available insurance coverage.
In the context of your personal injury case, credibility refers to your personal credibility. It comes into play during all stages of your case, but many times the insurance company does not get to assess your personal credibility until your deposition. Until they get to lay eyes on you, they largely view your case as just another claim number.
To help bolster client credibility, Kenneth shares his 8 principles of deposition with all clients to help them prepare to give sworn testimony. A strong deposition is key and can help lead to a favorable resolution. Once you’ve filed suit and you have a personal injury case within the court system, a jury may ultimately decide the fate of your case. As crass as it might sound, a jury will — consciously or not — pass judgment based on their own personal experience and bias. Keep in mind that bias is not limited to a specific sex, age, gender, race, or economic status. EVERYONE is biased. Insurance companies know this and use it to their full advantage. This is why Kenneth stresses the importance of being truthful. No matter your sex, age, gender, race, or economic status, if you are honest and candid it will add value to your case.
If you’ve been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident and are curious to know the potential value of your case, contact Hancock Law today. The best way to find out the value of your case is to meet with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you’ve sought medical treatment after your accident.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice nor as creating an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and legal advice cannot be provided by Hancock Law unless/until we meet to discuss the particulars of your case. Whether an attorney-client relationship exists can differ on a case-by-case basis, but at Hancock Law we consider such a relationship to exist only upon a potential client’s request and our agreement to accept that representation.