We all know that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Yet, everybody always wants to know what their personal injury case is worth the day after it happened – and some are willing to believe anything! The reality is that the value of a personal injury case usually depends on facts that can take months or years to establish, and anybody that claims that they can get you big bucks for your small injury is, well, ummm, LYING!
What prompted this post was a call from a former client who told me that he tried to refer a friend to our office. He told me she had broke her leg as a result of a car accident, and that she went to a personal injury attorney that promised her a million dollars! Yes, you heard this right, a personal injury attorney promised her A MILLION DOLLARS! Would you like to have a million dollar personal injury case, I think NOT! While pretty much anybody could benefit from all that money, most of prefer not to be paralyzed or wheelchair users. Most of us prefer not to have disfiguring scars or brain damage. This is what would be needed for a million dollar case. Very few leg injuries where usage can be restored are worth anything like this. The woman with the broken leg probably has a good case, but it’s not worth a million dollars (and she was pretty naive to believe this!)
There are three main factors for determining the value of a Personal Injury Case:
- Injuries – It is not always clear right after an accident what the injuries actually are. You may know, for example, that you sustained a fracture, but you might not know what type of fracture and how much follow-up care will be necessary. You may know that you have a laceration, but you can’t know whether it will result in a scar. You might have no fractures or lacerations, in which case it will be necessary to get your medical records to know the extent of your injuries. For any injury, it is not possible to know right away how long it will take to heal and how well it will heal.
- Liability – If you were a driver, hit in the rear by a drunk driver using a cellphone, it’s pretty clear that the accident was completely the fault of the other car. We call this 100% liability. There are so many situations where the liability is not so clear. Often both driver’s claim the other went through a light – it can take time to resolve these disputes. If you were side-wiped or the other vehicle went through a stop sign or made a left turn, the allocation of liability can take some time.
- Policy Limits – As a practical matter, it is only possible to collect as much money as is available under the applicable insurance coverage. In New York, car owners are required to carry a minimum 25/50 policy. This means that the insurance will pay out a maximum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident. This means that even if your injuries are severe, your recovery might be limited. Commercial vehicles usually have much larger policies and many car owners to have higher policy limits. It will take some time to establish the policy limits.
There are many other factors that can impact the value of a personal injury case. Don’t be fooled by “too good to be true,” promises. Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney who will tell you the truth, including the fact that it may take time to ascertain the value of your case!