Confessions of a Personal Injury Lawyer: The Marketplace

Many clients have an inspiring faith in our system of justice.  Even though their claim may be their first experience with the judicial system, they sometimes nevertheless have a firm conviction that the system will agree with whatever they’ve decided should be a fair outcome. Unfortunately, it is more complicated than that.

One factor which clients often aren’t aware of when they form an opinion as to what a claim is worth is that there is a marketplace of sorts for personal injury claims.  That marketplace consists of the verdicts and settlements in other cases.  It is a marketplace in which insurance companies do business every day. Although there are always bizarre outcomes, bad and good, and although the value of each case is determined by its particular facts, the outcomes in other personal injury cases create a probable range of value for other cases.

Admittedly it is not a scientific way to value a claim.  If you tried the same case to ten different juries you would get ten different verdicts.  However, the outcomes in other cases set a reality-based range of value upon which a given claim’s probable fair market value can be surmised.

Similarly, you may dearly love your house.  You may have shed blood, sweat and tears to make it a special and unique place. Sure all that will matter, but we know that the real estate market has a significant influence on the eventual sales price.

It is a mistake to believe that a $10,000.00 case is worth $50,000.00.  At the same time, market or no market, the insurance company will do what it legally can to minimize the cost of every claim. That is the business they are in. Your lawyer will do what can be done to maximize your recovery. However, insurance companies tend to know when an attorney or client has assigned a value to a claim which is out of touch with reality.

We do what we can to settle the case in order to avoid the risks, delays and expense of trial. Most personal injury cases are resolved by settlement. Cases which are given an overly inflated value will not settle.  Those are cases where 12 members of a jury will tell you by unanimous decision what the outcome of your case will be.

By:  Peter G. Webb

***********************************************************************************************************************