The truth is that it is impossible to know exactly what your case is worth until you reach a certain point in the case when you have sufficient information. Every claim is unique because every BODY is different. The same type of accident or injury may affect one person differently than it affects another. The only time it is possible to estimate the value of a personal injury case is when the treatment is completed, and your attorney has reviewed all your medical records. Until that time, it is pure speculation.
Jury Award vs. Settlement
The terms “jury award” and “settlement” both refer to different ways in which an injured person may receive compensation for his or her injuries, which are caused by someone else.
A “jury award” refers to the amount of damages a victim receives from a jury after presenting his or her case during trial.
A “settlement”, on the other hand, refers to a dollar amount that an insurance company agrees to pay out in order to resolve the case without going to trial.
The majority of cases settle before going to trial. This occurs not only because trial can have unpredictable results (it is difficult to predict the mindset of 12 strangers), but also because trial is costly and time-consuming. However, that does not mean that the jury award does not play a role in settlement. As discussed in the next section, it has a direct influence on settlement negotiations for your case.
The settlement value of your case is a prediction of what a jury will decide your claim is worth at trial. Settlement negotiations involve the parties attempting to predict what a jury will decide your claim is worth before actually going to trial. Oftentimes, this can be challenging. Jurors bring their own unique worldviews, experiences, and perspectives to trial. Different jurors may arrive at different conclusions at trial, even when presented with the same evidence.
Factors that can influence a jury’s verdict include:
- Jury composition- Each jury is unique, comprised of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. As a result, each juror has his or her own personal biases that can hurt or help your claim.
- Your attorney’s reputation, skill, and experience- Your lawyer’s ability to try your case has a direct impact on your case’s value.
Insurance companies track lawyers’ trial history, including the types of cases they are willing to try, and their track record at trial. They use this data to evaluate their own willingness to try the case. The more willing the attorney is to go to trial, and the better success the attorney has had in the past at trial, the more likely the insurance company is willing to settle your case rather than risk a loss at trial. On the flip side, if the insurance company knows that your lawyer is never going to try your case, it will not take your case seriously, and will never offer a fair value to settle your claim. The ugly truth is a lot of personal injury lawyers never try cases.
At Premier Law Group, we will try a case when an insurance company acts unreasonably – and the insurance companies know about our firm’s willingness to go to trial.
The way your attorney chooses to present your case at trial has a large effect on the jury’s verdict amount, and as such, impacts the settlement value of your case. It is thus in your best interest to obtain an attorney who not only is an expert in their field, but also understands the best way to successfully communicate your story to a jury.
Location of the trial.
Litigation must be initiated in the county in which the car accident occurred. For example, if your accident happened in Seattle, your lawsuit would need to be filed in King County. The location of your lawsuit ultimately determines the location from which your jury pool will be drawn. Jurors from more conservative counties are often less willing to award a litigant a larger sum of money during trial. Thus, if the trial setting for your case is in a more conservative area, it may affect the value of your claim.
What is important for you to know is that no insurance company will offer you more than what they think a jury would award you at trial.