When we meet with a new client for the first time, they almost all have the same question – What is my case worth? It’s understandable to want to know what your case is worth. The problem is that it’s impossible to answer this question before we’ve had a chance to thoroughly review your case. Our San Francisco personal injury attorneys spend a lot of time preparing their clients’ cases before they take any legal action. It’s really important that your initial complaint be filed properly. If you forget to add a defendant or don’t list all your damages, you could lose out. In fact, if your claim isn’t filed within the statute of limitations period, your case will be dismissed.
Here, we’ll discuss how we determine whether a client’s case has merit. We will also explain what kind of damages you would be entitled to should you need to file a personal injury lawsuit. In the meantime, if you have any questions about your own personal injury case, give us a call. We can schedule your free, initial consultation over the phone or through our website.
Every Personal Injury Case is Different
The first thing we try to explain to our clients is that every case is different. It’s not just that the facts of each case are different. The damages are different as well. For example, one client may have been involved in a car accident and suffered a serious back injury. Their case would be worth more than somebody who only suffered whiplash.
Another good example of how cases can be entirely different would be a client who suffered a slip and fall. If they didn’t suffer serious injuries, their case may not be worth much at all. This is especially true compared to somebody whose child suffered brain damage in a near-drowning accident while at summer camp. Until we’ve had a chance to review the facts surrounding your case, it wouldn’t be fair or ethical for us to tell you what it may be worth.
Never Trust a San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Who Promises You a Certain Amount of Money
We like to warn our clients about San Francisco injury attorneys who guarantee their clients a certain amount of money. Not only is this unprofessional, but it’s also against the rules. Attorneys are required to follow certain rules of ethics. If a lawyer advertises that they can guarantee a win for their client, or promise them a certain amount of money, they can get into trouble.
One of the major problems with making this kind of promise to a client is that a San Francisco personal injury attorney only has so much control over their client’s case. Our attorneys can’t control what happened during the accident. Nor can they control what kind of assets the defendant in a given case may have. For example, you can sue someone for a million dollars. If they have no assets and no insurance, you may never see a dime.
Your San Francisco Injury Attorney Must First Prove Fault
Before you can even entertain how much your case is worth, your San Francisco injury attorney must first prove fault. They do this by proving negligence. According to the American Bar Association, negligence requires that you prove the following four things:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- They breached this duty
- You suffered an injury
- Your injuries were directly caused by the defendant’s breach
If they can prove all four elements, then there’s a good chance you’ll be entitled to damages.
Your Attorney Must Also Prove Your Damages
When your San Francisco personal injury attorney files your initial complaint, they must list your damages. You cannot add damages later on. For example, if your initial complaint doesn’t demand compensation for lost future income, you can’t demand this compensation at trial. The same is true for all other types of damages.
In most of the personal injury cases our San Francisco injury attorneys handle, the following damages are listed on the initial complaint:
- Medical bills and future medical bills
- Property damage (such as in a motor vehicle accident)
- Lost wages
- Lost future income (if you become partially or totally disabled as a result of the crash)
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (available in very limited cases)
When your attorney files suit, they must list an amount for each of these things. You can’t just put a random amount down and hope that the judge awards you damages. For example, you’ll need to add up your medical bills and see what the total is. This must include any monies already paid by your private health insurance carrier. The same is true for lost wages. Your San Francisco injury attorney must submit copies of paystubs and time sheets to show how much income you actually lost.
There’s a Good Chance Your San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Will Settle Your Case
The good news is that you probably won’t have to prove damages in court. More than 95% of all personal injury cases settle long before trial. Your attorney will start out by demanding the full amount. The defendant’s attorney will probably start somewhere around 20-30% of your total damages. The hard work is finding a common ground somewhere in the middle.
There are many benefits to settling your case. For one, you don’t have to risk losing in court. If that happens, you walk away with nothing. Second, your case will settle much faster than it takes to go to trial. It can take 2 or 3 years to get in front of a judge. Finally, it’s a lot more expensive to go to trial. Your San Francisco personal injury attorney will have to pay expert witnesses and court recorders for depositions. It’s in your best interest to settle and your attorney understands this.
Take the Time to Sit Down with an Experienced San Francisco Injury Attorney
If you or your family member are hurt in any type of accident, you should call our office. Sit down with one of our experienced San Francisco injury attorneys and let the review your file. If they think your case has merit, they may be willing to represent you against the defendant. If they don’t think your case has value, they’ll let you know. The last thing they want to do is waste your time or theirs.
We recommend that you call our office today and schedule your free, initial consultation. The defendant will have a team of lawyers working for them and you should too.