The answer to this question can expend on the audience. It goes without saying that the insurance industry as a whole has a much different opinion on the topic than those injured at the hands of a negligent actor. Two things remain true about the valuation of a personal injury case. It is one of the core functions of a personal injury lawyer to assess the likely outcome of a claim at trial. Ideally, this is done with a balance of reason and experience on the one hand, and with the passion of an advocate on the other. The second is that the timing of the value assessment is key.
When all of the evidence is in, including past medical care cost and future medical care projections, you and your attorney should discuss your claim, and arrive at a range of fair value.
I would not advise anyone to trust online calculators that ask you to put in the total of your medical bills and wages lost. The calculator then multiplies that by three and returns the product as the “value” of your case. I would likewise caution skepticism where a value is given to you immediately after a loss, or after an initial office meeting.
There are a myriad of factors the seasoned personal injury lawyer will take into account in arriving at fair value, and, often, time is necessary to gather and assess all of that information. Having said that, some generalizations at the initial stage probably are appropriate. If the injured person is not hospitalized and requires little or no medical attention, then a blanket statement that the claim is likely not a “policy limits” type of case is probably justifiable. On the other hand, where liability is clear, and physical damage is catastrophic, it probably is appropriate to talk about the case as policy limits matter to set the tenor of subsequent settlement discussions.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 6/1/20.