If there was an easy answer, there would be no lawyers.
It seems pretty simple – Most of my clients just want what’s fair. But there’s never a number in the sky to tell you what “fair” is.
There are so many “approaches” and “rules” that I could literally spend days writing about them. At the end of the day, the best settlement is whatever you’re willing to walk away with.
The simplest approach is try to put yourself in the shoes of the average juror, and view the case the way you think he or she would after hearing all the important evidence. This is far easier said than done.
No two juries are the same; I know of at least two cases where the lawyer representing the injured person agreed before submitting the case to the jury that they would agree to “cap” or limit the amount of their recovery in exchange for being assured that their clients would receive a certain minimum in the amount the jury awarded them nothing. For instance, if the limits on the award were $500,000 and $1,000,000, the defendant would have to pay at least $500,000 and no more than $1,000,000. On each occasion, the jury gave the client over a million dollars more than the agreed maximum.
So what does influence the amount of the verdict? The jurors are supposed to look at a number of things: the total of the medical bills, the total paid to the medical providers (these are two different things) the pain and suffering experienced because of the injury,lost wages, whether the injury is permanent, and the relative responsibility of the parties to the accident.
But a lot more goes into a verdict than that. Jurors care a lot who is going to be getting the money they vote to award, and who it’s coming from – essentially, character. Jurors in Hamilton County, Ohio are probably going to look at a case differently from jurors hearing the same case in Adams County, about 70 miles East.
It matters a lot if the defendant is a corporation or an individual, and whether the defendant acted intentionally or simply made the kind of mistake we all do in our daily lives. The size of the wreck can be very influential –was it a fender bender, or were both cars totaled. Credibility is crucial – jurors who don’t believe a witness are unlikely to award him or her a lot of money, even if liability is not disputed.
When you are evaluating a case, you cannot ignore any of these things. I often evaluate a case on my own, and then double check my opinion with a friend, after blocking out the names of the persons involved.
In the end, the most important asset in evaluating a case is the experience of the lawyer who is doing the evaluating. I have been practicing over 30 years, and have been practicing personal injury law that entire time.
If you want to know more about how to value your case, why not talk to a personal injury attorney in Cincinnati. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775 in Cincinnati.