CAN AN ATTORNEY PREDICT HOW THE CASE WILL PROCEED AND HOW MUCH COMPENSATION MAY BE AWARDED?
The attorney can and should give the client an anatomy of a typical personal injury case that fits the facts as the client describes them and tests them for liability of the person that injured them, and come up with a determination if the attorney believes there is a 51 percent chance or better that the person who injured them is liable and there will be compensation coming, based on their physical and mental state and injuries, what the medical course will be and how long it may take, although keep in mind, the attorney is not a doctor.
If they are experienced, they can give estimates of the types of likely doctors that will be seen during the course of treatment, the likely types of treatments or therapies that may be required and over what period of time it will take for the person to reach maximum medical improvement. Those are ranges based upon an attorney’s experience, not about being a doctor. The attorney will advise them that once the person is done treating, they will get the medical records and bills from the healthcare providers, review everything, put a claim package together, send it to the insurance company, tell them that it’s going to take a month or two for the lawyer to get all the records and bills.
It will then take the insurance company about a month to review everything and begin negotiations, which can take a day, a week, a month or even six months, depending on the good faith in negotiations, the degree of injuries and that type of thing. That’s the anatomy of a personal injury case and things don’t get resolved in days or weeks, but months and years. A good attorney can tell a client at that point how much they might be able to get at the end of the day.
I absolutely refuse to do that at the beginning of the relationship, on the first day when they ask that ultimate question that everyone always asks on the first and last interview, all the way through to the middle of negotiations. I will never ever tell a client what I think they will get because there are so many variables, even up to the last minute. It’s dangerous, it creates unfair expectations, which is not good for the client or the attorney.
The most common types of cases are motor vehicle accidents including motorcycle accidents, while the least common are probably dog bite and bicycle accident cases. The second-most common would be slip, trip and fall and third would be everything else, which is just a mixed bag.