Too often we have to turn away potential personal injury clients because they called too late. Before their case could even get started, it was shut down. Leaving them with injuries and losses that will never be compensated.
In my experience, people don’t contact an injury lawyer soon after an accident for different reasons. Some believe their injury is minor or temporary, and will just go away. Others think the insurance adjuster when he says he will be fair. And some others want to avoid an cost of a lawyer by handling the claim themselves.
Honestly, there are personal injury cases where a lawyer won’t be all that much of a benefit. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re honest when there isn’t much value we can bring to a case and they would be better off handling the matter on their own.
But there are many other cases where people wait too long to contact a lawyer (or don’t contact one ever) and make serious errors that hurt their case or don’t collect the information and evidence needed to prove their case. And, even worse, some wait past the deadline for taking legal action (the statute of limitations) or call a lawyer so late that it’s impossible to take on the case.
Here’s my advice: if you have been injured because of someone else’s actions and you believe that person (or business) is at fault, call an experienced personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. Obviously, we would prefer that you call us, but at at least call someone with the knowledge and skills to evaluate your case and advise you of your rights.
People are often curious what their injury case is worth. It’s human nature, but many feel guilty for wondering – worrying that it makes them look greedy or that it will give the impression they’re lying about the pain to get more cash. Unfortunately, once people get over the hump of discomfort and ask the question, I never have a very satisfying answer for them (at least early on in the case).
Law regarding damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases involves considering a number of different factors and elements which need to be assessed at different times as the case progresses. Assuming the client hasn’t waited too long to come see me, at the time of our first meeting it is very unlikely that all those factors will be determined or knowable. And without all that information, any value on a case would just be a guess.
Imagine this scenario: a client has severely damaged his knee and is scheduled to have surgery to repair it soon. There’s no way to evaluate a claim on the knee until after the surgery and rehabilitation (and often for a while after that). For one, we have no idea what the cost of the surgery will be until after it’s completed, and that will be a part of any damages claim. Also, there’s no way to know what the surgery will discover about the knee or whether complications will arise during the surgery. Assuming there’s lost wages, presumably the client will continue to miss more work so we don’t know the total for that either. And, we have no idea what the knee will be like in the future, and whether there will be ongoing problems with it and how bad those will be.
For those reasons, and easily a dozen more, it’s usually not possible to accurately evaluate the value of a case at an initial meeting. Of course, there’s always the exception that proves the rule and occasionally someone will come in with a fully ready case where they’ve reached full recovery and the liability facts are already established. In those very rare instances, I can answer the question. But the rest of the time, we’re left with the client feeling somewhat awkward but not having learned much for the question.
But the truth is that the wait is worth it, because getting the correct answer is a lot better than some pie in the sky number I pick off the top of my head based on some other case only marginally like yours. Personal Injury cases across the country, are all unique and different. That makes my job interesting, but it also makes it very difficult to give concrete answers early in the case.