Hello everyone. My name is Robert Mansour. Today, I want to make a very brief video about whether or not it is financially a good to idea bring a claim in a personal injury case. Here's how this situation usually unfolds:
I'll get a call from a client and they'll say, "Look. I was involved in an accident, I was hurt etc, etc." I'll say, "Does the other party admit that they caused the accident? They say, "No. Actually, they don't agree that they caused the accident. They think I caused the accident." Or worse, they have a police report that puts them at fault, and the other party is not at fault. They come in and they want to fight, and they want to take them to court and all this other stuff. I said, "Okay. Well, what are your injuries?" "Oh, I got some sore neck and sore back."
I told them, "Listen, your case is not going to be worth very much. Even if it is, worth say $5000 or $6000. Are you prepared to spend anywhere between $5000 to $10,000 in an effort to recover $5000 to $10,000? It doesn't make any sense. Why would you spend as much as your case is worth, and spend two years in court, and all you're going to do, best case scenario is get that money back?"
Sometimes, even though you want to make your point and you want to prove the other party wrong, and you want to proceed on matters of "principle," you might be putting yourself in financial danger. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to decide not to proceed. Sometimes, that is financially the wisest decision that you can make.
I hope you find this video helpful. If you'd like, feel free to contact my office for further consultation. Also, visit our website valencialawyer.com for lots more information. Thank you.
Every so often I get a call from a prospective personal injury client who correlates the "bad" behavior of the responsible party with the value of their potential personal injury case.
For example, I got a call recently from a prospective client (Jennifer) who was rear ended in a mall parking lot. It was a low speed impact, and Jennifer was in mild discomfort. As it turns out, the responsible party (a young man in his 20s) was driving with an expired license and was rude to her at the scene of the accident. He wasn't a very nice guy.
Apparently, he also refused to provide Jennifer with his insurance information at the scene because, in his estimation, the accident was so "minor" and there was no visible damage to either car. However, after much heated discussion, he offered to pay for the damage himself because he did not want to "involve" the insurance companies. Jennifer felt he was hiding the ball and wasn't being honest with her. He reluctantly gave her his insurance information when she threatened to call the police.
She told me, "I can't believe this guy! He didn't want to give me his information...he was driving without a proper license...and he was rude to me! He probably doesn't even have insurance on top of that!" I told Jennifer that I understood her frustration. However, her focus on his "bad" behavior, while understandable, was probably irrelevant to whether or not she had a claim for personal injury worth pursuing. I explained, "Jennifer, I understand your concerns but whether or not the other party was mean to you, had no license, cussed at you, doesn't go to church on Sundays, or is rude to his own mother has very little to do with your case."
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is this:
(1) Was he at fault?
(2) Were you injured?
(3) What is the likelihood of proving the injury to the satisfaction of a jury or insurance adjuster?
(4) Is there insurance available from the responsible party? If not, then is there "uninsured motorist" coverage? Is it worth going after him personally in court?
Jennifer was so focused on his rude and irresponsible behavior that she lost sight of the facts that actually matter most. She just wanted him to "pay for his actions." She wanted me to essentially "go after" this guy and "punish" him for his misdeeds! I explained that unless we can show he was drinking while driving (arrested at the scene) or doing something totally crazy, then our chances of seeking "punitive" damages (damages designed to punish someone for their actions) are little to nothing. Even though it might be a factor, his insurance company is not likely going to pay "punitive" damages. They don't cover him for that.
In most cases, if the responsible party admits fault, their "bad" or reprehensible behavior at the scene of an accident is generally irrelevant, even if it makes you angry or upset. Just because someone was a jerk at the scene of an accident, or was driving with an expired license, or doing anything else that was "bad" in your opinion, doesn't mean your case is necessarily worth pursuing. For example, if you got rear ended but there is minor or little property damage, then your case is probably not worth pursuing even if the defendant was the biggest jerk in the world at the scene.
It is certainly understandable to be upset with the responsible party for causing the accident, and especially being upset if they weren't obeying the law or were rude to you. That is a perfectly legitimate human response. However, when all is said and done, the focus should be on two things - liability and damages. Without clear liability and significant damages, discussing the bad or rude behavior of the responsible party won't get you very far with most juries and insurance companies. If the responsible party admits to causing the accident, his/her behavior after that won't matter much in most cases.
If you want more information or need help with your personal injury matter, please call our office at (661) 414-7100. We will let you know if we can help with your accident case.
Some people get into a car accident and think they've won the lottery! They expect lots of cash to roll their way. However, reimbursement and compensation in personal injury cases often doesn't live up to the tall tales some may believe. Years ago, I actually had a client who thought her sprained neck was going to get her $250,000. After this encounter, I make sure my clients have reasonable expectations about their personal injury case.
I'm not really sure why some clients have such unrealistic expectations about their personal injury cases. Perhaps they've heard stories from others who got a lot of money or perhaps they've watched one too many late night TV commercials from attorneys who make personal injury cases look like some kind of lottery system. I suppose the average personal injury cases don't make the news, so people naturally aren't aware of them. They hear about the occasional person who recovers millions from McDonalds for spilled coffee. Without knowing more about such cases, they figure THEIR case must be worth a great deal too.
The trouble is there are still some people out there who think their personal injury case is their path to riches. Your accident case is NOT your lottery ticket, NOT your pension plan, and NOT a retirement plan. If you have unreasonable expectations, you need to reevaluate your position and talk to an experienced attorney who will give you reasonable expectations. Don't go to any lawyer who will tell you what you want to hear.
Attorney Robert Mansour handles personal injury cases in Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic, Palmdale, Lancaster, Northridge, Chatsworth, and surrounding communities. If you want a candid assessment of your personal injury case, call (661) 414-7100 for a free consultation.
Many people wonder what their personal injury case is worth. The problem is there is no real "guide" you can buy with values assigned to different injuries. However, an experienced lawyer can provide you with some guidance. Also, insurance companies keep statistics on injury cases so they have some idea how much a case is worth. Typically, if an insurance company makes an offer to you, they may indeed be low-balling, but their offer often has some basis in reality. Therefore, if they offer you $1500 on a minor soft tissue case (minor whiplash from a car accident), it's because they know juries rarely award very much for such cases and it will cost you more than that to file a lawsuit. Factors that can affect the value of your case include how old you are (the older you are, the more likely you are to get injured), the severity of the impact, the amount of property damage, the severity of the injury, and any residual medical problems you may have from an accident.
Some clients ask if they should try to settle their personal injury case on their own. There are many circumstances when settling the accident case on your own would be prudent. First, if your case only involves property damage, I would certainly recommend you resolve the matter on your own. You can seek an attorney’s guidance along the way, but you should be able to handle the property damage claim on your own without too much trouble. Just keep in mind that it’s never fun to resolve a property damage claim and you probably won’t be 100% satisfied. I’ve never had clients tell me they were 100% satisfied with their property damage experience. Even if your car is a total loss, and they fairly reimburse you, you still have to go through the hassle. That’s just the way things are.
You can also handle your own case if you have minor property damage and some minor injuries. If there isn’t any discernible property damage that can be easily seen, you’re probably better off without the assistance of a lawyer. When clients call my office for an evaluation, I always ask, “Do I need to squint to see the property damage on your car?” If your case isn’t worth very much money, it doesn’t make sense to involve an attorney. However, if you have significant property damage and significant injuries, it makes sense to get an attorney’s assistance. Make sure you get an honest assessment from an experienced personal injury lawyer before making this decision.
Surprisingly, there are times when “how much” just isn’t the most important issue for my clients. In fact, I would say most of my clients aren’t out to “get rich” by bringing a claim for personal injury. What they want is fair compensation, payment of their medical bills, protection from surprise bills, etc.
I recently was involved in a case where there was significant potential for a higher settlement. However, without getting into all the details, the client just wanted to settle because he was exhausted. For two years, he tried to handle the case himself and the insurance company for the responsible party strung him along. It has now been another year, and he’s reached his breaking point. Sometimes, just getting “done” with the matter is valuable to a client…in other words, they can potentially get a higher settlement but that’s not as “valuable” as putting the case behind them. I try to listen to my clients to make sure that whatever course of action we take, they are on board and in agreement. Sometimes, settling a case for less can be of greater value to you. Just make sure you communicate such to your attorney.
Many people are surprised to learn that the insurance company for the party at fault does not pay their medical bills as they become due. In other words, they won’t pay your medical bills until you are finished with your treatment in most cases. This can prove to be an unpleasant surprise for many people. Also, the treating doctors aren’t terribly happy about it because they want to get paid.
Keep in mind the insurance company for the party at fault doesn’t really have any obligation to you. First, they have to “investigate” and “determine” whether or not the accident was your fault or not. After that, don’t expect them to pay your medical bills whenever you present them. First, they will have to “determine” whether or not your treatment was reasonable in THEIR opinion.
In some cases, they use databases or other computer software to make that determination. Then, they will look at every single charge you incurred to see whether or not they agree with the charge by the doctor. If they don’t agree, they will slash the doctor’s bills – in many cases dramatically, leaving you with a big hole to fill. So all the assurances of the world from the other party’s insurance company should mean nothing to you at the end of the day because there is no guarantee they’re going to pay your medical bills. In most cases, the adjuster alone determines your charges are unreasonable. Yes, this is the same adjuster without a medical degree.
How Much Is Your Case Worth?
Hi. I’m Robert Mansour. Sometimes after an automobile accident people call me and they say, “Rob how much is my case worth? Is there some kind of magic formula?” People used to believe that they take their medical bills and multiple them by three and somehow that will tell them what their case is worth. It’s not that simple. There are so many factors that go into it. Your age, the nature and extent of your injury, whether or not you have any residual injuries, lost earnings, where you live in the country, how the juries react in your part of town. There are so many things that go into it. If you want to discuss this or any other personal injury matter, please feel free to contact my office. Thank you.
Sometimes I get calls from clients who have called 5 or 6 attorneys before. They don’t understand why a lawyer doesn’t want to represent them. They keep "fishing" for a lawyer who will accept their case. As a general rule, a lawyer won’t take your case unless there is a reason to do so.
One reason is being able to help the client in some way. Several times, clients have called me and I’ve told them they are better off without a lawyer because getting a lawyer won’t be much help. In fact, in some cases getting a lawyer isn’t a good idea at all. Therefore, if I can't bring some "value" to a client's case, then I probably should not be getting involved.
Another reason is that lawyers are running a business. They simply can’t accept every case that walks through the door. It has to have merit and be potentially profitable. Therefore, if a case is going to cost the lawyer more than he/she will possibly make on the case, they can't really accept the case unless it's a "pro bono" matter.
Therefore, the lawyer has to be able to help you and be able to make money since they are running a business. If a lawyer cannot take your personal injury case, it doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't pursue your case. You might simply be better off trying to handle your case on your own.
There is really no definitive way to evaluate a personal injury case. However, one thing you should know is that no one will ever see the case through your eyes. No one will ever really appreciate the pain you feel from the accident or how the accident may have affected your life. The trouble is that if you are unable to view your case from an “objective” standpoint, it will probably be very difficult to settle your case. (By the way, insurance adjusters can also be guilty of being unable to separate their biases from an objective analysis).
Yes, there is no magic formula to figuring out what your case is worth (even objectively). You can't simply focus on one aspect of your case. A good lawyer should give you an "overall" picture of your case. A good lawyer will stand "far enough" from your matter to be able to see it from a distance and help you understand how others will judge your case. In your eyes, it might be the most dramatic accident in the world. You might aches and pains like never before. However, I reiterate that you can't evaluate your case from your point of view. Unless your jury is full of family and friends who are really fond of you, juries are generally not very generous. They will view your case very differently from you in most cases.
If you've chosen a good attorney to help you, then let them do just that. If they've been doing this type of law long enough, then they should be able to give you an honest assessment of your personal injury case. I tell clients I have a "bank" of thousands of injury cases in my mind, based on experiences as a defense lawyer and plaintiff lawyer. I try to compare and contrast their case against the many others I've seen. I try to help the client set realistic expectations.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.