“How much is my case worth?” This is a question that is asked of our attorneys in our firm from time to time during the initial consultation. The simple truth is this: If an attorney quotes you a dollar amount of how much your case is worth during an initial consultation, they are simply telling you something you want to hear. During the initial consultation, there is no way any attorney, no matter how many years they have been in their current position, can tell you how much your case is worth.
Let’s look at it this way, say Bill was rear ended by a truck while sitting idle at a red light on Monday. He is taken to the Emergency Room by way of ambulance and is treated by the hospital staff. The doctor checks him out and it is obvious that Bill has a lower back injury. The doctor prescribes Bill some medicine to help with his pain and refers him to a specialist. Bill sets up an appointment with the specialist on Thursday of that week. On Tuesday, he decides to call a lawyer to make sure he is going about all of this the right way and protecting his best interests. As an aside during the conversation, Bill says, “You know, my wife is out of work, now I’m going to have to miss some work due to this accident. I have to pay a specialist. Will I be able to recoup all these costs? Just exactly how much is this case worth?”
In the above situation, there is no lawyer out there that can say with any kind of certainty how much Bill’s case is worth. Why? Because Bill still hasn’t seen the specialist. He really doesn’t know the extent of his injuries. Will he need surgery? How much work will Bill miss? Will Bill have to live with this injury his whole life or can he be treated and return to his former state? Will Bill need any kind of medical devices to aid his recovery? How many doctor visits will Bill make between now and the end of his recovery? What is the total mileage Bill and his wife drove to see the doctors? Will Bill be prescribed additional medicines at the specialist? Did Bill have any injuries from a previous accident? We can keep going and going but the point is made.
The lawyer, unless they can see into the future, doesn’t know the answer to any of the above questions, so any kind of monetary amount he or she answers this question with is just not true. At all. They are just telling the person what they want to hear.
* Photo courtesy of Colin K via Flickr Creative Commons