As a society, we’re accustomed to assigning a hard cash value to just about everything. We shop on Amazon or eBay to find the best price for new sneakers or old baseball cards. We scour online listings to find just the right car at the right figure. We watch the experts on Antiques Roadshow appraise someone’s grandmother’s heirloom cameo and declare that it’s worth $10,000, not a penny less.
But when it comes to putting a value on your personal injury case, things aren’t so simple. You should be skeptical of any attorney who promises to tell you “what your case is worth” on first consultation, as if they’re evaluating a knickknack you’ve brought in for appraisal. An experienced attorney can probably give you an idea of what sort of settlements have been reached in cases similar to yours, but there are many factors involved in each individual case that require thorough investigation before a fair evaluation can be achieved. Here are some of the elements you should consider before putting a price sticker on your case — or worse, rushing to settle a case that may be worth more than you realize.
Nature of injuries. In any case involving serious injuries — such as fractures, lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and concussions — proper medical evaluation takes time and patience. The outcome of surgeries, rehabilitative therapy, or other forms of treatment may not be known for weeks or months. Beyond the hospital bills, costs associated with the injuries might include long-term impacts on your ability to work or your personal life that can’t possibly be assessed early in the process.
Liability issues. In some cases, the presence of witnesses or physical evidence makes it easy to establish who was at fault in a motor vehicle collision. Other situations may require considerable investigation and consultation with accident reconstruction experts to resolve liability issues. Still other cases, such as a multi-car collision, may involve degrees of liability assigned to various parties. Having solid evidence that establishes liability and proof of damages are key issues in any successful accident claim, especially if the case ends up going to court.
Coverage issues. Even if it’s clear that the other driver is at fault, your ability to recover damages for your losses can depend on what kind of insurance (if any) the other driver carries. If the other driver has no insurance and no tangible assets, that can present a formidable challenge. A personal injury attorney is going to want to assess the extent of the other driver’s coverage, as well as your own: Is there a claim to be made under the client’s own uninsured motorist coverage? Is there an umbrella policy? Work-related coverage?
RESULTS, NOT PREDICTIONS
Without taking the time to do a thorough evaluation of the damages, liability and coverage issues involved in a particular case, it’s impossible to accurately predict what that case may be worth. Every case is different, and past results are no guarantee of future success. Because insurance companies typically make initial settlement offers that are well below what a case might actually settle for, it doesn’t make sense to attach a price tag up front and rush to settle your case. The disparities between initial offers and actual settlements can be startling, in some instances. Here, for example, are outcomes of a few recent cases handled by Franklin D. Azar & Associates, in which actual settlements were substantially greater than what the insurance company offered, usually because thorough evaluation of the case established that medical costs and other damages were much greater than that offer:
|Pre-Litigation Offer||Actual Settlement Amount|
THE CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT FRANKLIN D. AZAR & ASSOCIATES
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or financial loss as a result of a car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. Over the past 30 years, Franklin D. Azar & Associates has represented victims in a wide array of complicated and serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Greenwood Village, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, call the attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 720-372-2824 or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.