“What’s My Case Worth?” This is easily the most frequently asked question from a new client who has been hurt and who is often faced with injuries that prevent him from working, mounting medical bills and uncertainty about the case will ultimately end for him. First and foremost you should know that no responsible attorney can tell, at the beginning of a case, what the case is worth.
There are too many unknown factors for an attorney to give an estimate to the client, and it would be incredibly unfair to allow a client with a personal injury to start a case with an artificial “target”.
“What’s My Case Worth?” is all about the subject of DAMAGES in Virginia. There is only one purpose for damages – to place the injured person into the position he or she would have been in had the crash or other incident causing harm not occurred in the first place. No better and no worse. Contrary to what politicians and other entities with monetary agendas would tell you, a lawsuit injury is NOT a bonus, it’s NOT a windfall, it’s NOT a reward and it’s NOT a “lottery”. Jurors make decisions based on the evidence that is presented to them by BOTH sides, and THEY are the only ones who hear and have all that information. Not the media, not insurance representatives and not politicians who would want you to believe that there are runaway juries killing our judicial system.
The damages in YOUR case are based upon YOUR injuries. The purpose of damages, according to the language of the Virginia model jury instruction No. 9.0, is to “Fully and fairly compensate the plaintiff”. That is it, and that is what it should be about.
WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN HURT, YOU DESERVE TO BE TREATED FAIRLY,
THAT IS WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES
In Virginia, juries are given an instruction by the Judge that they are allowed and required to consider certain components of your damages depending upon whether they apply to your case. Some are easy for the jury to place a value on, such as your medical bills, or your lost wages, because there are actual numbers that demonstrate your losses. Others, such as pain, mental anguish or future limitations are left to the decision of the jury, and this is where the experience and skills of your attorney become important.
Any bodily injury sustained and it’s affect on the plaintiff according to severity and probable duration. You can easily see the effects on one’s daily life and on all of your activities if you lose a hand or a finger. While your pain and your medical bills may end, the bodily injury is substantial and permanent. It is no different for one suffering a back injury, where the effects are felt every day with every movement. There may be no treatment or no ongoing medical bills, but that bodily injury may affect you forever.
Any physical pain and mental anguish suffered by the plaintiff. Don’t be tempted to lump these two together, and dismiss them as just “lawyer talk”, because they are difficult to see. Pain is something very real, that every one of us has experienced. Until someone “walks in your shoes” they cannot judge your pain. When someone has taken away your pain free life, you have been harmed and you deserve to be treated fairly for that harm. Anguish is just as harmful. When you can’t work, when you can’t get paid, when you have mounting medical and other bills, when you worry about whether you will ever get better, it is a time of unbelievable stress. This is mental anguish, this is harm, and you deserve to be treated fairly when someone else causes you to suffer.
Any disfigurement or deformity and associated embarrassment or humiliation. We all have a sense of self worth and some of us are more self conscious than others. However, if your injury has resulted in surgery, scarring, created a condition where you limp, or have a loss of a body part, you will feel “different”, and that is real, permanent harm.
Any inconvenience caused. Did you suffer harm when you had to cancel your family vacation because your pain was too bad to allow you to drive that far? Did you suffer harm when you missed your child’s graduation From high school because the narcotics you were taking made you too sleepy? Did you have to give up your position as a volunteer at your church, because you couldn’t physically participate? Yes this is harm and yes you should be treated fairly for that harm.
Any medical expenses. This relates to the actual bills for the treatment that you received for the medical conditions that you suffered. In Virginia this means the TOTAL bill, not the bill after reductions for any health insurance payments.
Any loss of earnings or earning capacity. We all understand what it means to lose time and money from work. It is also harm when the injury that you suffer prevents you from going back to your job, or makes you change jobs to a lesser paying job, because your injured body won’t let you return.
I hope you can see why I can’t tell you at the initial interview, what your case will be worth. The value of your case depends upon:
How badly you were injured
How much impact there will be on your life
How long the impact will last
The worse the injury, the larger the impact and the longer they last, the MORE you have been harmed and the MORE money it will take to fully and fairly compensate you for your harm. That is the ONLY goal and that is why you need an attorney experienced in the trial of personal injury cases, like Gregory Sandler at Sandler Law Group. Remember
“When They Don’t See You – Make Sure You See Us”