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Ask an Attorney: How Much Is My Car Crash Case Worth?

Ask an Attorney: How Much Is My Car Crash Case Worth?

We get asked this question all the time. Sometimes at the first meeting with a new client. It’s a perfectly reasonable question. Unfortunately, it’s like asking: “how much does a house cost?” How big is the house? Where is it? Like a house, an injury case can be of enormous value, or it can be very modest. Certain questions must be answered in order to evaluate a case, and these answers usually do not exist until sufficient time has passed following the collision. Here are some important points:

How Insurance Companies Decide What to Pay for an Injury Claim

At the heart of every insurance company is a heartless money-making machine, bent on taking in premiums and minimizing the payment of claims. Insurance companies are some of the most profitable corporations in America. They stay that way by paying as little as possible to crash victims. There is no sympathy or empathy to be found in any insurance company. It only makes sense that insurance companies often use computer programs to determine what they will pay. One such program is Colossus.

Colussus and similar programs are used to evaluate claims. These are programs for injury valuation. The people that handle claims at insurance companies are called “adjusters.” The adjuster enters data about a crash victim and the injuries. Anything from a mild neck sprain to a catastrophic surgical case. Or a death case. The program generates a range of values, beyond which the company will never voluntarily pay.

Not much is known about the formulas, the data mined or the way the programs are used. Some critics call the programs “black boxes” because the way they work is kept very secret. In our experience, adjusters have little legal background, and little knowledge of medicine. Yet they, and their computer programs, are often responsible for cases going before a jury. Because the only way to get an insurance company to pay beyond what the computer says is to put the evaluation in the hands of a jury of your peers. Insurance companies know which lawyers try cases, and who gets big verdicts. They also know who the paper tigers are. It makes a difference.

How Good Lawyers Determine Case Value

We don’t use computer programs. The number one way a good lawyer determines the fair compensation for an injury claim is based upon their level of experience. And the quality of that experience. If all you did in your legal career was settle every case that came along, that, in our opinion, is limited experience. It is wise to have the benefit of the experience of a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer. We try cases to jury verdict. And not just once or twice. Better to have a trial lawyer with a track record of success in court. Not one who sat behind a desk without setting foot in a courtroom.

Evaluating a case also includes understanding jury behavior, and seeing what they do with different kinds of cases. The kinds of verdicts they come up with. We look at cases with great consideration and what a jury will think of a given case. Here are the things a jury considers once they decide that the defendant was the cause of the crash:

  • Past Medical Bills
  • Future Medical Bills
  • Past Wage Loss
  • Future Wage Loss
  • Whether the injuries are permanent, and if permanent:
  • The extent of pain, suffering, mental anguish and other noneconomic losses in the past
  • And that to be experienced in the future.

In summary, the opinion of an attorney about how much compensation a given injury deserves depends on numerous factors. Not the least of which is the nature and extent of the attorney’s experience. Every case we try before a jury is one where the offer generated by an insurance company was unreasonably low. Most cases do resolve without going to trial. Some cases can’t be settled. These just need a jury to make an insurance company pay fairly. In our experience, the jury usually gets it right.

That being said, once the majority of a client’s medical care has been received and the financial losses are known, you can expect to get a good idea about the fair value of your case.

Are insurers trying to undervalue your case? We can help. Reach our car accident attorneys at (727) 877-1212 or contact us online to request your free case evaluation.

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