If you were hurt in a serious car accident, slip and fall accident or other kind of accident in which you were injured because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, it is normal to wonder how much money you can expect to see by way of compensation. Don’t be fooled by those personal injury award calculators you might see online, claiming that if you enter just a few facts into your computer, it will magically tell you how much money your case is worth! The truth is, even when you sit down with an attorney for the first time to discuss details about your accident, it is impossible to put an exact dollar value on your case. An online calculator is more likely than not just going to feed your information to a personal injury lawyer so that they can follow up with you. That’s fine, but let’s just be clear as to the main reason that these online tools are out there.
Better questions to ask when talking to an injury lawyer are:
- Do I have a case?
- How likely is it that fault of the other party can be proven?
- If the accident was partly my fault, how do you see that impacting my case?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
- What should I do when the insurance company calls me?
- What steps should I be taking now, in preparation for filing a claim for personal injury?
- Can you help me evaluate a settlement offer given to me by the insurance company?
Why the value of a personal injury case shouldn’t be calculated too early on
A good accident lawyer isn’t going to throw a dollar number out there during an initial consultation, for the simple reason that the facts of your case must first be thoroughly investigated which includes reviewing the police report, becoming familiar with the accident scene, speaking to witnesses, and so forth. Just as important is the need to wait until you have completed your medical treatment or at least have a very good idea as to what you can expect in the future in terms of your physical condition due to the accident. Since one of the main components of your case will involve payment or reimbursement of your medical bills, you don’t want to leave anything out. This is one of the main reasons that insurance companies for at-fault parties are going to be so quick to offer you a settlement, if in fact they even accept responsibility for having caused your injuries. They want to get your signature on a settlement agreement before you get a lawyer and before you incur more bills for doctors, physical therapy, pain medications or injections or even surgery because once you have settled, there is no coming back and forcing them to give you more money, not even with a lawsuit. Your case is forever closed once you sign a settlement for your injuries.
What if I am already done with my medical treatment- can’t we estimate a case value?
If you are done receiving all of the medical treatment that you are going to receive for the accident, are back to work and feeling about as going as you are going to following your injury, and can give the attorney a very good summary as to how the accident happened, then it is possible and even likely that an attorney can give you range of what you can expect, but that is very different than throwing around numbers immediately following an accident or expecting an online tool to give you any measure of accuracy in terms of telling you how much your case is worth.
It is worth mentioning that an important key to the value of your case is not only the cold facts and amount of your medical bills and other measure of damages, but also how your case is going to be presented (think about the various lawyers in the classic and very funny movie, My Cousin Vinny). Will your case be skillfully negotiated by a good attorney or will it be presented in a sloppy manner? How have your injuries impacted your life and how will that part of it be conveyed? Will a lawsuit be necessary and if so, how will a jury react at trial? Will the case go as far as trial and if so, will you make a good witness? The human component can never be taken into an account by a computer widget which is why it is important to have a real conversation with a real attorney about your accident.
How can I find out more about my own injury case?
Don’t be afraid to talk to a personal injury lawyer. A good lawyer is not going to intimidate you or rush you into anything but instead, should be helping you to understand how the process works and what you might expect in terms of your own case. This will allow you to make a decision as to when and how you may wish to move forward after a serious accident. If you live in or around Chicago, or the accident happened here, give us a call at 630 250-8813 if you are curious about what a personal injury case might look like for you.