One question I am often asked whenever a potential client calls my firm is: “What is my case worth?” And this is a great question and I can certainly understand why clients would want to know the answer.
Their lives have been turned upside down because of someone else’s negligence. They want to know whether or not their bills will be paid, or whether they will be reimbursed for their lost wages, or perhaps compensated for their pain and suffering, their emotional suffering.
Well, I addressed this very question in my number one bestselling book on Amazon — The Authority on Personal Injury Claims in Georgia: The Definitive Guide for Injured Victims and Their Lawyers in Car Accident Cases.
When I meet with my clients, I actually give them a copy of this book and we discuss their claims in great detail.
Now let’s look at the question: “What is my case worth?”
The only honest answer that I or any attorney can give to this question, especially if the wreck was very recent, is: “It depends.”
And please, run from anyone that tells you they know what your case is worth because they are not being honest with you.
Let me put this in context for you.
If any attorney could be in a position to tell you the value of your claim, I’d be the one. My firm has recovered a billion dollars for our clients since 1993 in personal injury, wrongful death, and workers’ compensation claims.
This is all we do — day in, day out.
And before 1993, I represented insurance companies on the other side of these claims. I would defend the people that were out there responsible for causing the wrecks.
Here’s my point: before anyone can provide you with the value of your case, there are questions that need to be answered. And without knowing all the facts, the only honest answer is: “I don’t know.”
It is difficult to list all of the items that we consider when we put a “value on a claim.” Our evaluations are not just based on the facts and the law but upon jury verdict research, as well as our experience in handling claims for injured victims and their families right here in Georgia.
Let me at least highlight nine of the factors we consider when valuing a claim:
1. We Look at the Impact of the Crash.
- How much property damage was done to the vehicles?
From a layman’s perspective, a crash that involves heavy damage to the vehicles equates to a greater likelihood of injury than just a minor bumper scuff. But there are so many studies that have shown that even a minor impact can cause significant injuries.
- We look to see if the airbag or multiple airbags deployed.
- Was the vehicle towed from the scene?
- We look at the size of the vehicles involved.
The time of the crash.
2. We Want to Know the Severity of the Injuries.
- Were the injuries visible at the scene?
- Was the injured victim treated at the scene?
- Were they rushed from the scene by ambulance?
- Did the injured victim suffer any broken bones or scarring?
- And what injuries were confirmed through objective tests, such as an MRI or X-ray scan?
- Have any surgeries taken place or are there surgical recommendations and, if so, for what?
- Are the injuries permanent? Are they disabling?
3. We Want to Know the Amount of Special Damages in Your Case.
These are specific dollar items that you might incur for either medical treatment or the money you may lose in paychecks because of your wreck, your injuries, and your disability. Here are some things we also need to know:
- How much are your medical bills?
- Do you have an estimate of future medical needs? And how much is that going to cost?
- How much have you lost in wages?
- Is there an estimate that you may lose wages in the future?
- Can these lost wages be credibly documented?
There are times when people don’t file tax returns and they want to claim lost wages. That makes it an increasingly difficult burden for us to sustain if we don’t have those documents.
- Are any of the injuries that you have sustained in this wreck creating any kind of permanent impairment where you can never work again?
You could potentially qualify for social security disability benefits.
- We want to know the type of medical treatment that you sought for your injuries.
- We also want to know the credibility of the doctors?
Believe it or not, there are doctors out there that the insurance companies do not like, do not trust. They’re just known for creating claims. We don’t want to ever deal with those doctors.
4. We Look at the Parties Involved.
- How likable is the plaintiff?
- How likable is the defendant?
- We look at the age of the plaintiff, the age of the defendant.
- Whether or not there are prior wrecks, prior injuries.
- Were any of the parties on the job when the wreck occurred?
This is a huge deal. If the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle in the course and scope of his employment — for example, say he was a delivery driver operating a truck for a company — we may be able to pursue a claim against the company in addition to the driver.
5. Can We Seek Punitive Damages?
These are damages that not only punish the defendant for their conduct but will also hopefully prevent them from repeating the same conduct in the future. So we evaluate the conduct of the parties at the scene of the wreck.
- Did they try to flee?
- Were drugs or alcohol involved in causing the wreck?
- Were there any witness statements regarding the parties at the scene of the wreck and how they acted?
- We also look at the driving history of the defendant?
- Did the defendant get belligerent at the scene?
- Do we have any video from the police officers that investigated the scene?
All of that is important.
6. Was a Tractor-Trailer Involved or Some Other Corporate Defendant?
If so, commercial insurance coverage could potentially be available.
- Did the truck driver or trucking company violate any of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?
- Was the driver fatigued?
- Did the driver have a valid CDL (commercial driver’s license)?
- Do you have the driver’s logs or trip reports to show that they spent too many hours behind the wheel?
- Can you pursue potential claims against the trucking company for, say, negligent hiring, negligent retention, or negligent supervision?
- We look to see if the trailer was properly loaded.
- Were the tractor and the trailer working properly?
- Was the equipment inspected before the truck driver started operating it?
Look, I co-wrote the best-selling book The Authority on Tractor-Trailer Wreck Claims in Georgia. It’s a great book that deals just with tractor-trailer cases.
7. The Defendant’s Insurance Company.
- What insurance company provides coverage for the defendant?
There are good companies out there and there are bad companies. If there are bad companies involved, we have no choice but to go ahead and file a lawsuit against the insured.
- We want to know the limits of insurance coverage.
- Has the insurance company accepted responsibility for the wreck?
- Has the insurance company paid for the property damage to the client’s vehicle and, if so, how much was the amount of property damage, or was it declared a total loss?
8. We Want to Look at Our Client’s Insurance Company.
- Who is it with? What kind of coverage do they have?
- We want to know if our client had uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage?
- If they had any med pay coverage?
That’s like health insurance for your vehicle.
9. And Finally, We Want to Know Where the Lawsuit Will Be Filed.
This is also known as “venue.”
The venue is determined by the residence of the at-fault driver, or if he was driving for a corporation, where their registered agent is located, in the county where the harm happened if they had an office and transacted business in that county.
- Is it an urban or rural area?
- What verdicts have been rendered in this county under similar circumstances?
- How often are civil jury trials held in this county?
- Are either party well known in this county?
In all personal injury claims, I highly recommend you have your case investigated and evaluated by an experienced personal injury attorney.
It is never a good idea to try and settle your claim with an insurance adjuster on your own, especially if you do not have any idea about the full nature and severity of your injuries. They are not in business to try and give you all the cash and benefits you are entitled to receive.
You have absolutely nothing to lose by speaking with me about your claim. But just think of all you could lose if you don’t.
My phone number is (770) 934-8000. Please give us a call.