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What is my case worth? This is one of the questions that we hear most often. Many of our clients just want to know how they are going to get their medical bills paid and what they are going to do about the wages they are losing. Some of them have already been stressed out by the tough economic times and now suddenly, things have become even tighter. The question may not even really be about right now, but may be just as much about the next week, month or even years down the road. How am I going to pay my mortgage when I can’t work? So they ask what the case is worth.

I wonder how other lawyers answer the question, especially since the answer is usually not available at the time people are looking for a lawyer. There are effects of the injury, what the doctor says and unfortunately it truly does depend on the coverage. The clients want some certainty at this time. The easy thing would be to just throw a number out there. But, they don’t come to us at an easy time and they don’t higher us to take the easy way out. The truth I always explain is that we don’t know right now. You are actually better off if it’s less money and you get better. Those are actually my happiest former clients. But, if you are hurt long term, we know how to present your case in the best light. It is the difference of hiring a lawyer that knows and will represent you in presenting your loss and basically hiring a claims adjuster. It may not be fast , but we will look at your case and present it in the most comprehensive light.

Many of these people that have already talked to the insurance adjuster. We regularly meet with potential clients who have been offered small sums as the insurance company works to get out of liability and to close the file. They know that there are a percentage of people who really need money, so they will prey on that group. In these economic times, it happens all of the time.

If you are facing that choice, please keep in mind:

– For a minor, there is no way that they can settle the case without Judicial approval. I’ve seen companies try to get around this, but it’s against the law.

– When the settlement discussions are going on, is the adjuster practicing law? Do they talk about: if you need a lawyer, about the value of the case, or present their version as to fault? All of these get very close to giving you legal advice. I do it and I need to follow up with information on the statute of limitations. The non lawyer does it and they are breaking the law. They also, intentionally or not, can be very very wrong.

– Most car collisions involve the tort thresholds in Minnesota. Basically, you need to have $4000 in medical expenses, a permanent injury or 60 days loss of enjoyment of life. You meet one of those and you have a claim for pain and suffering. You don’t and you have no claim other than the bills, wage loss and property damage. I look at the little offers this way. If you meet a threshold and have a permanent injury, is there any way that is worth that amount? If you don’t meet a threshold, well, what did you really lose by waiting and making sure?

– The insurance company wants a settlement quick. They often make their offer within days or weeks of the collision. While some cases can be evaluated at that time, usually it takes time to get a full view of your injuries and to also get through a year’s cycle. Is there something that you do in the winter or summer that will cause you problems? It’s worth waiting to make sure you can play softball or snowmobile without problems. The statutes of limitations were made longer so that you have the chance to see the affect of your injuries.

It’s always worth talking to a personal injury attorney to make sure you are aware of all of your rights. If the offer is fair, we will tell you. We also can give you lawful legal advice and answer your questions.

As fellow members of the blog pack, Steve Lombardi, Wayne Parsons, Devon Glass, Mike Bryant, Rick Shapiro and Pierce Egerton, have been pointing out there is also a difference in what lawyer you talk to. Don’t make the mistake of undervaluing yourself. As I tell many of my clients, I may be smart enough to do some of the things you do with your daily job, but it’s doubtful I will do it completely right. I don’t think your competitor would come over and willingly help me. Severe injuries are not the time to learn how to protect you and your family and most definitely not the time to take legal advice from the other side. Take your time and learn who and what is out there for help.

I was in an automobile accident. What should I do? Ten Tips For Hawaii Drivers, Wayne Parsons on September 14, 2009 – 3:59 AM EST.

What would a caveman bring to meet with the lawyer?, Steve Lombardi , September 15, 2009 11:00 AM

Solving Legal Problems, Being a Client, Back to the Basics, Steve Lombardi , September 15, 2009 8:48 AM

Car Accident Injury Client: What Makes the Case Good or Bad? (The Collision & Medical Care) , Rick Shapiro September 16, 2009 9:38 AM

Being a Client: More Tips To Help Improve Your Case If You’ve Been In An Car Accident , Devon Glass , September 17, 2009 8:39 AM

Presumed Guilty: How to Avoid Having Insult Added to Injury When You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Crash, Pierce Egerton , September 18, 2009 4:28 PM

What To Do After An Accident When The Adjuster Is There First, Mike Bryant | September 19, 2009 6:26 PM

What Questions Is The Lawyer Going To Ask Me At The Initial Interview For My Injury Or Death Case?, Wayne Parsons | 20 September 2009 12:01

What makes a case good or bad?, Steve Lombardi, 21 September 2009 12:57 PM

What To Do After An Accident When The Adjuster Has A Tape Recorder, Mike Bryant , September 23, 2009 10:01 PM

Do I have a good or a bad case?, Devon Glass, September 24, 2009

What are interrogatories and how do I answer them?, Steve Lombardi, September 29, 2009

Interrogatories: A Written Deposition , Devon Glass, September 30, 2009

Demystifying Injury Litigation for Clients: What Are Interrogatories?, Rick Shapiro October 03, 2009

and this one

How Do You Value Your Case? Mike Bryant October 03, 2009 9:29 AM


  1. The value of a case is the toughest question most attorenys have to answer. I will print out this article and use it with my clients to help them understand that every case is different and that there is no single number, but a range of numbers, and factors, that goes along with their case.

  2. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    It is a very hard question, especially when it comes with no money on the table and you are really only talking about hypotheticals. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, I hope it helps.

  3. Gravatar for Pierce Egerton

    Just as an experiment I've been counting the number of times I heard this question since I read the article. 24! And yes, in most of those cases it was far to early to offer even a speculative number.

  4. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    Interesting number. You are so right on the timing. I've told people many times: if anyone told you what your case is worth right now, they are absolutely making it up or they are selling you short; by being too low or too high just to sign the case up. We will work it up correctly and I won't be shy to answer the question when we know more and the time is right.

  5. Gravatar for Joan Petty

    Really Good, I think an Auto accident case would be much easier than a Product Liability case in a Civil action. At least you can get a Judge and a trial and you have Laws and Statutes to use to bring the case to the bar. In Product Liability class actions for prescription drugs, the Judge can only take the case under advisement. No Law.

    When you run you head against a preemption of the law you only can settle out of court with a take it or leave it.Accident cases are open and shut, either you have injury from the accident and can prove damages or you can not show evidence of damages.

  6. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    You are correct the cases that have been lost without any real redress need to be dealt with. The 8 years of preemption and laws written to protect the defendants need to be corrected. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  7. Gravatar for Tom

    Gentlemen, as an experienced trial attorney, I believe a case is worth what an objective finder of fact(usually a jury) believes it is worth. The law is very important but I would argue it is the collective experiences and values of your jury that will truly determine what a case is worth. If you have a community that is quite conservative and frowns upons lawsuits, they will be quite skeptical and the insurance company will use this as leverage against the injured person. A man injured by the blatantly negligent action of a corporation in Baltimore, Maryland is going have a much different result if his case is tried in a court in Crawford, Texas.

  8. Gravatar for Joan Petty

    Here is one for you guys! Tort actions will never be corrected as long as Congress is blinded by the Health and Human Service Committees. They have misled the whole legislative body to believe that the round peg will fit in the square. Over a century they have twisted the Healthcare bills in the FDA and FDCA ACTS by amending and deleting Product Liability for Prescription drugs and Medical Devises. No remedy for any injury or killing with a defective prescription drug. Thousands of innocent consumers go without compensation because of this. The drug manufacturing products imported and exported are the only products that are deleted from the Uniform Product Liability Fairness Act. Think about this! " This is the only product in the United States that is not covered with the Uniform Product Liability Fairness Act." Defective Prescription drugs are preempted from prosecution for killing and injury. Legal Assination. No one wants to hear that our Legislators in Congress are responsibile for the bad drug laws and continue ignoring and omitting and deleting the real issues that is driving Medicare and Medicaid cost up and Private Insurance cost.

  9. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    I agree in part Tom. The presenter of the facts and the development of the case is so very important. Experience and hard work do make a difference. In the long run the client and the case are still the keys, but how it gets to trial can make a big difference. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  10. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    Joan, you are so right about the cases that people have no remedy at all. They have actual letters from the defendant saying that they did something wrong, and still no remedy. I like other members here at the IB, have been keeping a close eye on the issue. Hopefully, congress will at least give these people their day in court.

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