At the first interview, injured clients sometimes ask “how much is my case worth?”
My standard answer is “it depends.”
Generally, it is impossible to predict the value of a case so early.
A client’s financial recovery depends upon the following factors:
- Liability. Is defendant liable? Is liability strong, or is it weak? If liability cannot be proven, then the client cannot recover regardless of the severity of his injuries.
- Injuries or Damages. What is the nature of the injury? Is it contestable? Is it permanent? Does it alter one’s life and the ability to work? What are the medical costs, past and future?
- Defendant’s Insurance. Does the defendant have the assets or insurance to pay a judgment? The defendant may have a limited insurance policy, such as $25,000 for auto accidents. Or the defendant might have a higher limit, such as $1,000,000. Or defendant may be a self-insured corporation or government entity with an ability to pay a judgment. Or defendant may have no insurance and have little to no ability to pay anything.
Therefore, if the attorney were to venture an opinion on value early it would be mere guesswork. Clients and their families should consider this when interviewing potential attorneys. Clients should be skeptical of attorneys who can predict the value of the financial recovery at the first meeting.