Mystified by how a New York personal injury lawyer knows how much a case should settle for? Let’s demystify the process. I’ll walk you right through it!
The first step for determining the settlement value of a case is to wait. We have to wait until either the client is either done treating or has reached “maximum medical improvement”. When that happens, we can look back at all the client have been through and decide what the pain and suffering is “worth”. Also, at that time we will know whether the client has any “permanency”, meaning whether she is going to continue to suffer for the rest of her life. If her doctor says the condition, pain, or disability is “permanent”, then we can claim pain and suffering compensation for the client’s natural lifetime.
The next step is to look at what other juries have awarded people with similar injuries. We can figure this out both by looking at past verdicts we have gotten in court for our clients, and also by cases we have read about. All lawyers in our office read religiously a weekly publication called the “New York Jury Reporter” which describes in detail plaintiffs’ injuries and what juries have awarded for them.
Next, we must consider the probability of winning or losing at trial. Guess what? We don’t win all our trials. No one does. Some cases are tough to win. If we believe we have a 100% chance of winning (this is rare!), then the settlement value of the case is 100% of the “full value” of the injury. But if we believe we have a 20% chance of losing at trial (because the facts of the case might cause a jury to find that the defendant was not responsible for causing the injuries), then we reduce the value of the case by 20% for settlement purposes.
Example: The full value of the injury is $100,000, but there is a 20% chance of losing at trial. Therefore, the settlement value is $80,000.
Next, we take into account where the case will be tried. Juries in certain big-city venues, such as Buffalo or NYC, tend to give much bigger awards than rural venues such as Cayuga County. We adjust the settlement value up or down according to where it is being tried.
The final step is to check with the client. We can’t, and won’t, settle a case for any amount below that which the client will accept. If the client insists that the case is worth more, despite our careful analysis, we will probably end up at trial. Insurance companies are just as good at figuring out the settlement value of a case as we are, and they generally won’t pay more than the fair value of the case in settlement. They would rather take their chances at trial.
So now you know how we New York personal injury lawyers figure out what a case is worth. If you want us to calculate what your case is worth, call for an appointment.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.