4 Things To Do To Help Improve The Value Of Your Personal Injury Case
By: Jeffrey Shaw, Esq.
Published: February 2, 2017
The Worth of Specific Injuries Depends Mostly Upon Our Ability to Prove “Fault” — So Hire an Attorney who has Jury Trial Experience
The most common question I get asked is “How Much is My Case Worth?”
And the answer is always the same = “It Depends.”
This rarely satisfies the client, but it is true. Your case depends upon many, many different factors — the most important of which is “fault” and whether we can prove the other person “caused” your injuries.
Think of Fault Like a Pizza the Jury Must Divide
In Indiana, a jury verdict for money is reduced by the amount of your own fault in causing the injury. The defendant’s fault is then multiplied by your total damages.
It’s like a big pizza of “fault.” If the Defendant’s fault is 3/4 or 75% for causing the injury compared to 25% for you — well, that reduces your recovery.
So, if your verdict was for $100,000 but the Defendant was only 75% at fault for causing your injury, then your recovery would be (100,000 x. 75) or $75,000.
That’s one reason it is so very important to get an attorney who knows how to win a jury trial case — it has a big impact on your recovery.
Shaw Law knows how to present a jury trial using the words that produce a psychological effect upon a jury. At the same time, we believe in the importance of technology and the use of audio-visual demonstrative exhibits to help the jury understand what happened and why the Defendant was “at fault.”
For example, at Shaw Law, we integrate a highly technical slideshow presentation to explain the workings of a brain injury. It is important to teach a jury how the brain works and how it can be injured at the outset of every jury trial to combat the many myths put out there by insurance companies and defense lawyers.
Hire a good attorney with actual jury trial experience for any injury claim. Ask your attorney how many jury trials he has done. Many attorneys have done fewer than 10 — many have done zero.
You’d be surprised.
Exclusive Membership to Million Dollar Attorneys
Shaw Law has done over 100+ jury trials. Each case is different and we cannot guarantee an outcome.
We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Those groups are limited to attorneys in the United States who have actually won a verdict for $1,000,000+ and $2,000,000+ or more.
It’s an exclusive group.
And we’ve been members since 1998. That’s a long, long time.
Our record speaks for itself.
The Second Biggest Factor in the Worth of Your Specific Case Depends Upon the Severity of Your Injuries — See Your Doctor
This concept can be difficult for clients to understand.
Yes, “fault” is a big deal. But, even if the Defendant was 100% at fault in causing your injuries, most cases still have a “range of value” that depends upon your injury. Broken legs are usually paid at a certain range. Spinal surgeries, too. That might sound crass, but in today’s age of sharing copious amounts of information by computer, the defendant’s insurance company knows the typical range of settlements. So, they rarely offer any settlement outside the “range” of your injury.
So, your case worth depends upon your injury.
In Indiana, a jury can award damages based upon:
the nature and extent of your injury
whether the injury was permanent or temporary
the scars or disfigurement of the injury
its effect upon your ability to earn income in the future
the pain involved that caused suffering or mental anguish
the amount of your medical bills
What do you do if you don’t like or want to accept the offered amount?
Well, you always have the ability to request that your amount be determined by a jury of your peers — not the insurance company.
And, remember, you might be exactly right.
Not every case fits neatly into little cubbyholes of value.
I’ve personally won two separate cases for over $1,000,000+ verdicts when I was offered $5,000 and $35,000 on each case. Sometimes, juries see the worth and value of your personal injury case in a much different light than insurance companies who tend to get cynical and jaded over time handling these cases.
For example, a scar on a child’s face might not cost much in medical bills (after all, a few treatments might be all that can be done). But, it has a big impact on a jury’s assessment of the case. That child will have to live with that disfigurement her entire life. That affects people and it affects juries.
The mere fact an injury happens to a child rather than an adult also affects the value of a case greatly.
After all, we all love children and juries are no different.
But that doesn’t mean your case has little value if you are an adult. The story of the impact the injury had upon your life is equally important.
I’d much rather explain your pain to people of a jury — people like you who know how hard it is to work and be injured. Who know how hard it is to support a family. Who knows how an injury affects those things and causes great emotional turmoil in addition to physical pain and medical bills.
So, your lawyer’s ability to explain pain, suffering and impact to a jury in a professional, persuasive manner matters greatly.
The Third Biggest Factor in the Worth of Your Specific Case Depends Upon You and Your Likeability — So Be Your Nice Self
Studies show that the “X” factor in almost every personal injury case is your “likeability.”
That might seem inconsistent with what was said above, but it’s not. People are people and insurance companies and juries are still run by people. And people tend to reward other people they like and punish people they do not like.
It’s human nature.
That’s why it is so important to conduct yourself professionally and calmly in every situation in which the opposing side or jury sees you. This does not mean be a milquetoast, whimpering fool — you can still explain forcefully how the injury affected your life forever. But, don’t be overly-dramatic when the situation does not call for it. Do not argue with the opposing lawyer.
And most of all, show the Judge and jury respect. Do not interrupt. Do not argue. Follow instructions.
You will get your chance before court to explain what happened in a deposition. A deposition is an out-of-court statement that is recorded when the defense lawyer asks you questions about what happened and how it affected you. Dress properly. Do not argue. Do not twist words.
Be yourself. The “likeable” version of yourself. We all have one.
The Fourth Biggest Factor in the Worth of Your Specific Case Depends Upon the Conduct of the Defendant — Tell Your Lawyer What Happened
What the defendant did to cause your injury and how he/she acted after you were injured matters greatly to a jury.
This concept is difficult for even lawyers to understand. But, I have seen it happen over and over in my 30 years of personal injury experience.
If the Defendant failed to do something very simple and very cheap in an effort to save money — often called the “Putting Profits Over Safety” theme of cases — the jury will tend to award higher damages in a quasi-punitive manner. Even though punitive damages are not to be awarded, a jury will increase the value of the case subconsciously.
Similarly, if the Defendant showed no remorse after the injury or was callous to the injured victim immediately afterwards, juries will also award higher amounts.
The explanation for this could be that a jury is more receptive to your testimony because they imagine themselves in that situation or family members. They don’t want other Defendants to treat their family harshly, so they award higher amounts to discourage future conduct — even if it is not directly linked to this particular Defendant.
It’s just human nature.
Here at Shaw Law we believe that nearly every accident is preventable. You should not have to bear the brunt of the negligence of someone else.
You can hire us to start working on your case in less than 10 minutes from the comfort of your own home.