Why there is no answer to “What’s my case worth?”

The most common question from personal injury clients at the initial visit is how much money their case is worth. Every time, the answer should be the same: It’s too soon to tell.

Anybody who gives you a dollar amount at the initial visit, or even at the beginning of the case, of what your case is worth simply doesn’t know what they’re doing. They are revealing a lack of skill and experience.

For starters, the details of your case may change from day to day. The amount of evidence you’re able to collect against the defendant and the relative strength or weakness of the evidence is variable.

The known extent of injuries is also subject to change. Sometimes people heal in a short amount of time and they’re soon just as healthy as when started. Others aren’t so fortunate and simply don’t get better. A doctor’s visit leads to a specialists visit, and then it turns out surgery is needed.

Imagine being in that second scenario and being told the case was worth $20,000 at the beginning and signing a settlement, only to find out six months later that complications made the case worth $150,000. By then it’s too late.

We don’t wish that on people, we don’t want anyone to be more hurt than they already are, but that is the reality. That’s why we wait until the end medical results are known so we can make our call with the precise details of the case.

But even then putting a dollar amount on a case is more art than science. There’s no worksheet or sliding scale to reference; we know at our firm intuitively after having a quarter century of cases under our belt. We also talk to each other within the firm and for some cases will poll our colleagues from other firms and even members of the public.

For one cases involving a death, the opinions we received from outside the firm ranged from $500,000 to $20 million. That’s a towering difference, and it’s’ not unusual to see such a Herculean contrast.

If we don’t reach a settlement, the actual dollar amount of the case can change with the whims and emotions of the judge or jury. That’s another factor that makes it difficult to come up with a dollar figure.

Lawsuits are a complex subject, too individualistic and varied to sum up with any broad-stroke statements. If you want to find out how much your case is worth you will have to talk to an expert and wait for all the relevant information to become available.