FAQ: What is my case worth?

I get this question every day. I understand it because that is what I would ask an attorney if I had a case. My answer is usually some variation of “I don’t know yet but give me some more information.” I know this is not what anyone wants to hear because they want a number like $250,000.00. The problem with that answer is there are a lot of variables that go in to a case valuation. The list below is just a beginning and represents just a sample of the issues we have encountered in our practice. It is intended to illustrate how much goes into proper case valuation and why it is not usually something that can be done accurately in a brief conversation at the initiation of a case.

1. What kind of case do you have?

  • Personal Injury
  • Workers Compensation
  • Construction Accident
  • Auto Accident
  • Truck Accident
  • Asbestos
  • Dog Bite
  • Slip-and-Fall
  • Boat Accident
  • Plane Accident
  • Train Accident
  • FEMA Claims
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Products Liability
  • Drug Injuries
  • Sexual Assault
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • Fraud
  • Tortious Battery
  • Dram Shop

2. What injuries do you have?

  • Wrongful Death
  • Mesothelioma
  • Cancer
  • Paralysis
  • Back Injury
  • Arm Injury
  • Shoulder injury
  • Wrist injury
  • Leg injury
  • Foot injury
  • Knee injury
  • Muscle spasms
  • Asbestosis
  • Birth Defects
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Herniated Disc
  • Inguinal Hernia
  • Umbilical Hernia
  • Torn Rotator Cuff
  • Torn Labrum
  • Broken bone(s)
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • ACL injury
  • Scarring
  • Tendon Tear
  • Bleeding
  • Disfigurement
  • Hearing Loss
  • Sterility
  • Neurogenic Pain
  • Incontinence
  • Vision loss
  • Chronic Pain
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Mental Incapacity

3. What sort of treatment did you have?

  • Ambulance
  • Emergency Room (ER)
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Hardware Placement
  • Prosthetic Devices
  • Pain Management
  • Injections
  • Prescription medications
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical Therapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Psychological

4. What are your damages?

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Loss of Future Income
  • Loss of Normal Life
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of Property
  • Loss of Business Opportunity
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Total Temporary Disability
  • Permanency
  • Permanent Restrictions
  • Loss of Ability to Partake in Recreational Activities
  • Psychological Damage
  • Future Medical Costs
  • Loss of Life Span
  • Wage Differential
  • Permanent Total (inability to work as defined in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act)

5. What is the likelihood of recovery?

High (struck in rear while stopped at light)
Low (bad result of medical procedure that probably was not a deviation of the standard of care or where the patient was demonstrably noncompliant)
“In Between” (most cases fall here which requires a detailed review of the evidence and application of the law)

6. Is the responsible party insured or have the ability to pay?

  • Auto Insurance
  • Medical Malpractice Insurance
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Premises Insurance
  • Med Pay (Insurance)
  • General Liability Insurance
  • Asset Checks

7. If there is insurance what are the limits and are they sufficient to compensate you?

  • Uninsured Motorist Claim
  • Underinsured Motorist Claim
  • Umbrella Coverage
  • Health Insurance
  • Joint and Several Liability

8. Do you arguably share some of the fault?

  • Comparative Fault
  • Affirmative Defenses
  • Capacity

9. Does anybody have a lien or other right to recovery that will affect your settlement?

  • Hospital Liens
  • Medical Liens
  • Mechanics liens
  • Medicare Liens
  • Medicare Future Payment Set Aside
  • Medicaid Lien
  • Attorney’s Liens
  • Workers Compensation Lien Section 5(b)
  • SSI/SSDI liens caps and setoffs
  • Case Loans

10. Where did the incident occur?

  • Chicago
  • Peoria
  • Springfield
  • Bloomington
  • Normal
  • Champaign
  • Urbana
  • Rockford
  • Waukegan
  • Quad Cities
  • Kankakee
  • Quincy
  • Chicago Suburbs
  • North Chicago
  • Joliet
  • Schaumburg
  • Rolling Meadows
  • Wilmette
  • Cook County
  • Lake County
  • DuPage County
  • Will County
  • Kane County
  • McHenry County
  • Winnebago County
  • Adams County
  • Ford County
  • Numerous Locations and times (Asbestos)
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Missouri
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Iowa
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Colorado
  • Michigan
  • Florida
  • California

11. If necessary, in what venue would the case be heard?

  • Circuit Court
  • Federal Court
  • Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
  • Traffic Court
  • Law Division
  • Municipal
  • Chancery
  • AAA Arbitration
  • Choice of Venue
  • Judge Assigned
  • Arbitrator Assigned

12. What is the trend for similar cases in a similar venue?

It depends on recent and historic:

  • Verdicts
  • Settlements
  • Awards
  • Changes in the law

13. Have you done any damage to your own case?

  • Statute of Limitations
  • Gap in appropriate Treatment
  • Non-compliance with Good Medical Advice
  • Giving Statements to Insurance Companies
  • Convictions for a Felony or Crime involving Dishonesty
  • Intervening Injuries

14. What other special circumstances are involved?

  • Witness Credibility
  • Witness Availability
  • Photos/Videos
  • Political and Economic Climate
  • The Specific Parties Involved
  • Government
  • Tort Immunity
  • Statutory Exceptions
  • Special Circumstances
  • Probate

All of these things and more may have an impact on the value of your case. Case value comes into focus over time as we investigate the case and get answers to these types of questions. Some cases will come into focus in days and some will take years. The best approach is to hire an attorney you are confident can maximize the value of your case. Whether that is the law Offices of Michael Gravlin or another firm, it is my sincere belief that Personal Injury claims and Workers’ Compensation claims are best handled by attorneys who are familiar with those cases. Additionally, the sooner you seek legal advice the better chance you have of maximizing the recovery in your case.