What’s My Chandler Case Worth?
I am sure that any experienced Chandler personal injury lawyer will tell you the number one question from any injured client is: “So…..what do you think my case is worth?”
I usually begin by telling my clients “Look, I need you to understand you have not hit the lottery. This is not a life changing event.”
Although most injured clients look a little crestfallen at this moment, I find it best to prepare them up front, rather than to leave it to surprise later.
In today’s personal injury/automobile accident claim environment, the fact is, once you are injured, there are so many hands reaching for cash that sometimes it takes almost all of my skill and 27 of negotiating expertise to get anything in the client’s pocket at all.
For example, in most whiplash, sore back, sore neck cases, my clients tend to gravitate toward chiropractic care. Many of the chiropractors will do their work on what is called a “lien.” This means that although you will not have to pay for services out of pocket, they are asking you to sign a document that gives them a legal, enforceable contractual right, to any money in your settlement that is equal to their charges. Once you sign a lien, your lawyers is legally obligated to protect the chiropractors interests and to pay him or her out of the settlement funds.
And this just begins the list. We will go through some of this in more detail in later blogs but you may be bound to pay back your health insurance company, the balance between what your health insurance paid the hospital or emergence room, which is often times a very significant figure, and other health providers including the ambulance company, which is usually in excess of $1,000.00 alone.
And, of course, there are attorney fees and the costs of putting your case together, such as the costs of medical records and expert reports, etc.
So, when a client asks; “What’s my case worth?” there is no real answer. It could be worth a lot, but you end up with a little.
Basically, settlement amounts are driven by the the medical charges in your file. It used to be that the insurance company would simply take the medical charges, multiply them by three and offer that as the settlement: One third for the medical doctors, one third for the lawyer, one third for the client.
But that is no longer the case, not by a long shot.
- First, today, you are lucky if the insurance company even pays the medical bills. Insurance companies have tons and tons of raw data at their disposal. They know what it takes to heal a typical whiplash case, for example. If you receive more treatment than is “normal” the insurance company will, very simply, not pay for the extra treatment and if the case is on a “lien” that leaves you holding the bag.
- Second, settlements are driven by the medical records. Look, if you are having trouble sleeping for months on end, yes, that is worth money. BUT, if you never mention it to the doctors, so the medical records are silent on the fact that you had trouble sleeping, guess what? It has no value. It is important to tell the doctor EVERYTHING and make sure they write it down in your chart. I always tell me clients; “if it’s not in the medical records, it didn’t happen!”
- Third, lost wages play an important part in settlement figures BUT if you do not have a doctor’s note that excuses you from work between such and such a date, then lost wages has less value. By the way, you are entitled to receive compensation for lost wages even if you use sick time or vacation time. The idea is, but for the accident, you would not have had to use it, so you should “get it back” in the form of money at you hourly rate.
- Fourth, mileage: You are entitled to be compensated for the mileage on your vehicle, usually at the IRS medical rate, for the distances driven to your medical providers.
- Fifth, pain and suffering, etc: Yes, this is worth money. Pain. Suffering. Mental Anguish. Duties under duress. If you have to hire someone to clean your house. This is all available and “pumps up” the settlement amount beyond the mere cost of medical treatment. BUT, again, if you are the kind of person who never complains, and there is no hint in the medical records that you are suffering from your injury at work or at home, then that value diminishes.
So, what is the value of your case? I don’t know, it depends. It depends on what you tell your doctor and what he or she writes down. It depends on the total medical charges. It depends on the reasonableness of your recovery time. And, it depends on your personal injury attorney. If you are in need of an experienced and trusted Chandler auto accident lawyer, Marco Injury Law can help. Contact us today to learn more about our personal injury experience.
Daniel Marco – Marco Injury Law
1166 E Warner Rd #101
Gilbert, AZ 85296
Email: [email protected]