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Can attorneys really tell you what your case is worth during an initial consultation?

Posted by Raj Chohan | Feb 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

For most cases, the honest answer is no. The best an attorney can do during an initial meeting is give you some indication of the results they have gotten from similar injury cases in the past.  Even then, the estimate you are given is at best an educated guess.

Injuries that seem more serious today might turn out to be less serious over time. Conversely, injuries that seem relatively minor today could turn out to be much more profound over time. You just don't know until the person has fully recovered or reached maximum medical improvement.  Even then you may not have the whole picture.

Young people tend to heal more quickly and may need less medical treatment than someone who is a little bit older with a prior history of back injury. Sometimes, injuries arise days or weeks after a collision that were not immediately apparent at the emergency room hours after the accident. Sometimes injuries aggravate or exacerbate other medical conditions that were latent or unknown prior to the collision.

The point is, every person's situation is different, every collision has its own peculiarities, and no two cases are exactly the same.

When someone gives you a best-guess of what your case is worth during an initial consultation there is a substantial risk that they will be wrong.  If someone gives you an unusually high number as an estimate for the value of your case, particularly if your injuries don't appear to be that serious, be suspicious.

During your first meeting, an attorney will almost never be able to tell you whether your case will result in a bad faith recovery against the insurance companies that are involved.  If the insurance company has acted in bad faith towards its insurance customer, this will almost always increase the potential recovery for the insured. Bad faith, however, tends to reveal itself over time, as a pattern of behavior, and usually at the prodding and persistence of an attorney who is communicating with the insurance adjusters to find out why certain decisions were made in the handling of a claim.

Instead of asking what your case is worth, the better question is “what will you do with my case?”

When you are interviewing attorneys, it is important to ask how they plan to work-up your case. Is your attorney working your case with an eye towards trial if necessary, or, are they doing just enough work on your case to reach a settlement?  An attorney who is only passively managing your case may not be doing everything necessary to position your case for trial if settlement talks fail.  If you get to trial and your case was not handled correctly in the early stages, critical evidence may no longer be available.

It is also important to ask your prospective attorney about their jury trial experience. Have they ever gone to trial? How often do they take cases to trial?  Are they familiar with the judges in the jurisdiction where your case may be tried?  Attorneys who have a reputation for going to trial tend to get better settlement offers from the insurance companies.

In the end, a case is worth only what the insurance adjuster is willing to pay, or what a jury is willing to award.  The true value of your case may well depend on which attorney you have hired.

The Max Law Firm is well equipped to help you with your traffic injury case. For a free consultation call 720-699-8268.

About the Author

Raj Chohan

Raj Chohan is a personal injury attorney with a passion for helping injured Coloradans seek the compensation they deserve and the justice their cases demand. He is a former prosecutor with extensive jury trial experience in some of the most complex and serious cases that exist under Colorado law...

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