VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello everybody, my name is Robert Mansour. I'm a lawyer in the Los Angeles area, and one of my areas of practice is personal injury. One of the questions that I get at the very beginning of many cases is the client will call or they'll show up to my office and they'll say, “How much is my worth? How much can I get?” Usually, that's a warning sign. That's a client who might be thinking dollar signs, and that's not usually a good fit for me.
I tell the client, “Look. I don't know how much your case is worth. You just had the accident a couple of days ago. We don't know the nature and extent of all of your injuries. We don't know whether or not you're going to have any residual problem from the accident. We certainly have no idea how much your medical bills amount to, how much your future medical bills might be. We still don't even know if this has had an effect on your job or not whether you lost money from work, et cetera.”
Also, there are subjective issues that have to do with car accidents what's usually called pain and suffering. That's a little bit more intangible, and everyone's case is kind of different. For example, I had a case where my client was involved in a car accident. His economic bills were not that high, but he missed his father's funeral as a result of the accident. So here's a fellow on his way to his dad's funeral. Accident happens. He misses his own dad's funeral. That is very, very severe.
I had a case where an elderly lady loved to do gardening, and because of the accident she was no longer able to get on her knees and do gardening in her yard. This was a very big deal for her because she was losing something that meant a lot to her. She really enjoyed that hobby. So there are sometimes intangible factors that have to do with the value of the case.
Also, there's really no ledger of value of body parts. You can't just go and say, “Well, you hurt your hand. That's $35 or $35,000 or $10,000. You hurt your hip, you hurt your eye, you hurt your this.” There's no such schedule of pricing. There's no open market for body parts that we can use to kind of figure out what the value of your case is going to be. So a lot of it has to do with how the case progresses as well as intangible factors and then, of course, there's the issue of the insurance company that you're dealing with.
Sometimes there are issues such as insurance policy limits. You can't get any more from the other party because they don't have enough insurance. You may or may not have enough insurance at your end. Also, keep in mind that there are liens that might be placed on your case. For example, your health insurance company might expect to be repaid. Your car insurance company, if they've paid anything out they might expect to be repaid. Any doctors we might hire to assist us in your case, they expect to be repaid, and that might affect your final number.
As you can see, it is very difficult to just give people a number in the very beginning and say, “Your case is going to be worth x.” Frankly, that is a warning sign. I had a client one time. He showed and he says, “Listen. I'm not going to get involved in this unless you can guarantee me that I'm going to walk away with $15,000 in my pocket.” I said, “Well, we're not going to be able to work together because I cannot guarantee you that nor can I even speculate about that at this point.”
So, for me, generally the clients who come to my office are clients who don't have dollar signs in their eyes. They're not there because they think they won the lottery, but it is a question that does cross people’s minds. There's nothing wrong with knowing that all of these various factors go in to determining the value of your case.
Again, remember, you're always going to think your case is worth more than the other party's insurance adjuster is going to think. You're always going to think your case is more than perhaps 12 people in a jury box are going to think. In any event, I appreciate you stopping by and watching this video segment. Again, my name is Robert Mansour, and thank you very much for watching.
Please call (661) 414-7100 for a free case evaluation. We serve all of Santa Clarita and its communities of Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Palmdale, Lancaster, etc.
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.
Sometimes, the insurance adjuster for the other party will call you and insist on meeting with you. They say something like, "Perhap we can settle this case over coffee?" So the prospective client calls me and says, "How much should I ask for? The accident happened three days ago and the adjuster is making me an offer."
I explain politely that the insurance adjuster simply wants to close his/her file. Accepting an offer so early after an accident is not a prudent course of action. Generally speaking, it's too early to settle the case because you have no idea what injuries you might have, what injuries might manifest themselves a week later, etc. Also, if you are truly injured, you should not entertain settlement so early for many other reasons.
Sometimes my clients call me while they are still treating for their injuries and wonder, "Hey, when are we going to settle this case?" I explain that we can't settle the case until they are done with their treatment. First of all, only then will we have all the bills and records to present to the insurance company. Also, we need to make sure the client has fully healed. If they haven't fully healed, we need to assess their residual injury and what their future might hold. Will they be in pain for the foreseeable future? Will they need surgery?
In other words, you need to wait until the case is "ripe" before you entertain settling the case. Rarely is settling the case very early a good idea. I understand the temptation is often there to settle early, but it's usually better to wait and fully appreciate what your injuries are, the extent of your injuries, and whether or not you will fuly heal from those injuries or not. Don't fall prey to the insurance adjusters pressuring you to settle. Talk to a lawyer about your case or seek representation and guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney.
Insurance companies don't make money by paying out settlements on insurance claims. When you put it that way, it's easy to understand why the insurance companies are low-balling their settlement claims, whether the claim is brought by a third party or by their own insured.
Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and holding onto their money. They invest it and make even more money. While insurance adjusters handle your claim, they utilize industry tips and tricks to lowball your settlement. I'm not saying all adjusters and insurance companies engage in such practices. However, when was the last time you ever heard someone say, "The insurance company offered me a really fair deal!" or better yet, "The insurance company was very generous with me." These are statements you will rarely ever hear.
About half of U.S. insurance companies are using software products (one actually called "Collosus") to evaluate claims. They basically plug in your information to get a sense of your case value. These software products utilize tons of historical data to evaluate claims of all kinds using parameters like age, injury claimed, region of the country, type of accident, jury verdicts, etc. However, critics of these software products argue they take the "human" element out of the equation, reducing your personal injury case to a commodity. Truth be told, sometimes I wonder why I'm dealing with an adjuster (a human being) when all they are doing is punching data into a computer. However it is a sad reality nevertheless. No matter how hard you try to explain to them some unique circumstances of your case, your case will simply be lumped in with every other case their computer has analyzed. Many insurance companies will publicly deny they use such software to evaluate cases. After all, why would they?
These software companies compete for insurance company business. They want their software product to be chosen, touting more "accurate" results and more importantly, bigger "savings" for the insurance company. These claims of "savings" by the software companies lead some to conclude that insurance companies are "fine tuning" the software products to produce certain more "favorable" results. Critics note these "adjustments" and "fine tuning" are nothing more than tactics designed to cheat the consumer. My personal feeling is that using historical data, regional differences, age, etc are fine, but if the companies are tweaking their software parameters to produce more conservative and "lowball" settlements, then consumers have even less hope in this "David versus Goliath" scenario.
For more information about Collosus software and similar products, click here for more information.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.