How much is my personal injury case worth?

Author: Claims Consultant Chris B. Cloude

This is a question I get from just about every client I assist at some point during their personal injury case.   Until a case is ripe for settlement, this question is impossible to answer.  To understand why this is true, it’s helpful to understand the general process we go through to determine the value of a case.

Although we are roughly tracking the value of a case throughout a client’s medical treatment, this is usually a very rough estimate until the client has been discharged from their care by a doctor. [1] After a client has been released by their doctor, we obtain the final office note and bill from the doctor.  Then I review the entire file with the attorney who is working on the case with me.  We consider many factors concerning the liability and damages aspects of the case.  We review the following, if available, about how the injury occurred and who might be responsible: the facts of the accident, the police report, police officer interviews, witness interviews,  photographs of the vehicles, vehicle repairs bills or estimates, the likely nature and force of any impact, the photographs of the scene, information about the defendant or defendants, information about the plaintiff, traffic court records and any other information available.  Regarding damages, we review the medical records, medical bills, prescription receipts, photographs of injuries, medical research, employment information and any calculation of lost earnings or income, effect of injuries on activities and any limitations, prior medical history and records, whether there are any permanent or residual injuries or limitations, any injury or surgical scarring, and any other information available.  We also consider whether the case will be tried before a judge or a jury, and where the case can or will be tried.[2]

The trial lawyer and I sit down and go through all of the evidence we have to present on the client’s behalf.  We consider what defenses the attorney for the insurance company will have for the other side.  We then estimate what we feel a jury, or a judge, would be likely to return as a verdict.  Usually we arrive at a range of the likely verdict, and within that range, the most likely verdict.  That figure becomes the starting place for determining value for negotiations.

The process to reach a final value is lengthy and complex.  However, our comprehensive approach rewards our clients’ patience by allowing us to provide them with the best result we feel we can achieve.

About the Author: Chris Cloude is a claims consultant with the Fredericksburg injury attorneys of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. Working with Fredericksburg car accident lawyer Edward Allen, Chris maintains a strong record of successfully assisting clients with their car accident injury claims.

[1] If a client has a permanent injury, then we wait until their doctor has indicated that the person is at the point of “maximum medical improvement” or MMI.  A person is at MMI when they have improved as much as they are likely to recover, and any additional medical treatment is usually just symptomatic (for relief of pain or flare-up of symptoms) or to improve some function (such as additional mobility), but is not expected to contribute to a further cure or additional recovery. Sometimes it is difficult to determine when this point  has been reached; sometimes this requires that he attorney meet with the doctor to discuss this issue.
[2] The available court jurisdictions where the case can be field and tried is called the “venue”.  Usually Virginia law gives several choices of where the case can be filed and tried; this is specified by statute (Va. Code §8.01-66.2 and following statutes).