There is no single question that I receive more often than… “What is my case worth?” Often, that is very tricky to answer, especially early on. The fact is that only a verdict from a jury after trial is a final and true determination of value. But so few cases actually go all the way to trial that your attorney must rely on his experience and skill to obtain as much for you as possible. There are a number of factors that go into determining the value of your case. Foremost, the severity of the injury and the extent of the treatment required. Additionally, the value of your medical bills and lost wages (if any). Also, are you willing to file a lawsuit and wait for more money or would you prefer to settle quickly for less.
So you see.. “What is my case worth” is a rather loaded question.
It may come as a surprise to many readers but another important factor in determining the value of your case is… which insurance company is involved? Especially early on during initial settlement talks, the insurance company on the other side makes a big difference. One company can value a case at 25k while another offers 12k. How can that be you ask? If my case is worth 25k it is worth 25k. Well, it is not so easy as that. Several insurance companies will “low ball” your initial offer. They want to see if your attorney is willing to file arbitration or file a lawsuit or rather just encourage you to settle for a quick payout. In most cases, the attorney accepts these low settlement offers and insurance companies continue to get away with paying less than they should. In Rhode Island, you have to be particularly careful of Progressive Insurance, Allstate Insurance and Liberty Mutual. These three companies (at least in my experience) are notorious for making low, sometimes insulting, offers of settlement. They justify this by cutting down your medical bills (claiming that treatment received was too expensive or unnecessary) and they will cut down your lost wages (suggesting you could have gone back to work earlier than you did) and they will offer you relatively little in pain and suffering. In the end, you get an offer way below your own valuation of your injuries.
What is important to remember, however, is that your case that is worth 25k is still worth 25k even if Allstate offers you 12k. The difference is that they are willing to bet you don’t want to wait, or that your lawyer is not willing to file a lawsuit. They are willing to bet that they can hold out longer than you can and you will ultimately accept less than you deserve.
In this situation, especially with the three companies listed above, you need to know your attorney fights and will go the distance to get you the fair settlement amount. Our office files statutory arbitration (please see our post on this topic) on a huge number of cases, in particular with these three companies. We also file a large number of lawsuits. I am not happy until you are happy and I hate accepting low ball offers. At my office, it is more common for me to encourage clients to sue than to settle. Understandably, a lawsuit is not right for everyone. Some people can not afford to wait for settlement, some people are made anxious by the thought of going to Court, and sometimes the case is not too strong and settlement makes sense. That is Ok. Each case is unique. I write this post so you understand not only all of the variables that go into determining the value of your case, but that the insurance company on the other side also plays a large role in the answer to that question. You also need to understand that an offer of settlement does not have to be accepted and you have options, especially if you believe you are being treated unfairly.
If you have been injured in any kind of accident or slip and fall and want an aggressive attorney willing to ensure that you get what you deserve instead of just what is offered, then contact our office for a free consultation.