How Much Is My Claim Worth? The Most Difficult Question : LUSENET : Online Client Handbook : One Thread

How Much Is My Claim Worth?

Copyright ) 2000 Robert P. Holmes All rights reserved.

True Claim Value Is The Last Question Which Can Be Answered

How much is my claim worth? From a legal viewpoint, this is one of the first questions to arise in a case. Unfortunately, this question cant be answered accurately until the end of the legal process.

Only after a great deal of investigation can a lawyer give the client a range of probable verdict values, and even these figures are the lawyers best guess. A lawyer can never accurately assure a client that any damages will be recovered. In other words, it is always possible that there will be no recovery.

Especially at the beginning, you should be extremely skeptical of any lawyers statement that your claim is worth a certain amount of money. All the work that a lawyer does in a case is oriented toward determining the true value of the claim. Once the insurance companys check is received following settlement or jury verdict, then and only then can value be known.

Much Investigation Is Needed To Estimate A Probable Verdict Range

Most injury claims are settled without the need for a jury trial. But both the insurance company and the injured person (through his or her attorney) base their settlement discussions on their own estimates of what a jury would probably award.

To estimate a probable verdict range, both the insurance company and the attorney for the injured person need to answer many questions. Below is a listing of some of these questions.

Can the liability insurance company argue that the injured person was at fault in causing the accident? What was the severity of the accident which caused the injury? What were the visible signs of injury? What were the complaints of injury at the accident scene and at the hospital or doctors office? What treatment was given to the injured patient? Did the patient follow all medical instructions? What was the total cost of the medical treatment? How much pain was suffered? Was the injured person completely unable to work for a period of time? Did the injured person experience any degree of permanent disability? If so, to what degree and to what part of the body? If there is permanent disability or permanent pain, then the age of the injured person is very relevant because a young person will have to suffer disability longer than an elderly person with the same disability.

Other factors to consider include the injured persons medical history and preexisting conditions; the doctors ability to testify effectively about the treatment; the injured persons loss of wages; the injured persons loss of the enjoyment of life; and whether the injured person has had other legal claims for similar injuries.

The valuation considerations are really too numerous to list. Each case has its own specific features which are unique. If the case does go to trial, one critical factor is the actual composition of the jury. Obviously, there is no way to predict the jury composition until the claim is almost concluded.

For all of these reasons, valuation of a claim requires much investigation and is an inexact art. Where possible, many experienced injury attorneys prefer to wait until the injured person has reached maximum medical improvement and until all important trial evidence has been gathered before addressing valuation.

Robert P. Holmes
Raleigh, NC

Disclaimer: This document does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a lawyer for legal advice.

-- Robert Holmes (, February 03, 2000

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