I was discussing case valuation with a client the other day. I told him that many attorneys and adjusters valued cases based on the amount of medical expenses incurred. Long imperfect formula, there’s at least some relationship between cost of the medical care an injured person receives and the severity of the injury or injuries. Again, the linkage is not perfect and I have handled a lot of cases that fall outside of the presumption.
Nevertheless, I told him based on the fact that he had just over $10,000.00 in medical expenses, there was a decent possibility the arbitrator in his case would award between $30,000.00 and $50,000.00 and feel like he’d done the client a favor.
The insurance company’s total offer was in excess of $70,000.00 (on a soft tissue case). Based on this offer I counseled the client that the potential of an arbitration award in excess of $70,000.00 didn’t justify the risk of an arbitration award significantly lower than the last offer received from the insurance company.
The client explained that there were injuries for which he hadn’t sought treatment because he didn’t have health insurance. This was one of the scenarios that the "paradigm" doesn’t fairly address.
Injured people without access to healthcare are essentially hurt in two ways. First, they don’t receive the care they need to help resolve their injuries and second they get less money for their personal injury claims because they haven’t received the care they need and incurred the related medical expenses. It’s a Catch-22.
The value of a case should not simply be based on the numbers and figures printed on documents. The real value should be based on how much the client suffered and how much their life has deteriorated due to the personal injury.