“How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?”

The above questions are often asked by clients who have been seriously injured in an automobile case or a trucking collision. Regrettably, there are some attorneys out there who will give unrealistic “pie in the sky” answers to such questions, usually for the purpose of trying to convince a client to retain their services. A good lawyer, however, will usually not provide a response to these questions until he or she has fully investigated the case and has access to all of the critical data needed to analyze the value of the case.

Obviously, there are many factors that determine the value of a case. Does the case involve strong evidence of liability against the defendant to be held responsible for the damages? Are there any aggravated circumstances involved? Does the client have a clean background and are the claimed damages fully documented? Is there good evidence of lost wages? Will there be a permanent disability and, if so, has this been documented by the treating physician? Is there a favorable venue or must the case be filed in a rural county where juries return small verdicts historically? In short, there are many questions that arise in trying to questions posed of a similar nature by clients who have been seriously injured and damaged in a bad accident.

Clients understandably want to know whether they are going to recover their damages and be adequately compensated. Regrettably, sometimes the answer is that they will not be adequately compensated. If there is little or no insurance available for an at-fault driver, there may be little or no chance of recovering an adequate compensation for the innocent injured client. If an at-fault driver was on the job for their employer and there is a commercial policy available with significant liability limits then full compensation may be a possibility.

We have seen far too many cases over the years where the at-fault driver had little or no assets and little or no insurance. These are the saddest cases because we have an innocent client who has done nothing wrong and who has been seriously injured and had their life completely turned upside down by an irresponsible driver who had little or no insurance and possesses little or not assets sufficient to satisfy a judgment against them. This is why we have written previous articles about the importance of possessing uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage to protect one’s self from irresponsible drivers who will drive without insurance or with the absolute bare minimum limits of coverage, which in a serious case, are grossly inadequate to address medical expenses, much less compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and other similar damages.

As we have stated, good lawyers many times avoid answering these questions because the questions cannot be answered until all necessary data has been assembled. Many times a case is worth far more than is available by way of insurance to address the damages sustained. If there is adequate insurance available to address a particular situation, it is many times possible for a skilled attorney to obtain full compensation for the client. A lawyer is not a miracle worker and can only work with the facts presented to them. If the facts are good, the lawyer who has the proper skill set can maximize the recovery for the client. If the facts are bad (little or no insurance, bad evidence on liability, etc.) then the lawyer has to work with a different set of circumstances which could affect the outcome for the client. Again, sometimes a skilled lawyer can achieve good results even when the facts are tough.

The better question for a client to ask is: Do I have a lawyer that has the skill set that can maximize my recovery for the damages I have sustained? A qualified and experienced attorney can analyze the case and consult with the client in trying to arrive at the best result for any particular case. The facts many times will dictate the end result, but a skilled lawyer sometimes can obtain more favorable results for the client based on the same set of facts simply due to the utilization of professional skills and experience to maximize the recovery for the client. As we have posted before on this blog, it is important that potential clients hire qualified, competent, professional, ethical and skilled attorneys to represent their interests in any serious accident case.


About Steve Wisebram

At Finch McCranie, LLP, Steven R. Wisebram focuses his practice of law on serious personal injury cases and business litigation. Over the last 35 years, he has amassed significant civil and criminal trial experience during his career, which provides his clients a distinct advantage in both the courtroom and in negotiations. Beginning in 2005, Mr. Wisebram has been selected to Georgia’s Super Lawyers list.

Before becoming a partner with Finch McCranie, LLP, Mr. Wisebram served in several attorney positions with the federal government. He began his legal career in 1977 as legal counsel to a Congressional Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. In 1980 he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia for almost seven years. For the last three years of that position, he also served on the United States Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Mr. Wisebram is licensed in the District of Columbia and the state of Georgia. He is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Eleventh Circuit.

He is a graduate of Harvard University and Emory Law School.