By far, the most common question that all people have when they realize they have a potential lawsuit or insurance claim, is “how much is my case worth?”
It’s also a question that most attorneys are not very good at explaining. Too many lawyers dodge the question all together. Others simply don’t know how to answer it, so they say “multiply medical bills,” such as medical bills times two or times three. What a ridiculous answer.
Any answer that involves a formula is ridiculous. Why? Because 1), no such formula exists and 2) it loses focus on the most important element of the case, the human element: YOU.
Your case is important and valuable because it happened to you and you were affected. Oklahoma City attorney Travis Charles Smith explains in this candid interview how he values cases.
Calculating Damages in your injury case in Oklahoma
In our settlement series, we explained how to determine case value for trial or settlement. In that article, I explained how the lawyer and client must have discussions about how much money to seek. It is best that the lawyer and client do this as early as possible and keep the discussion going throughout the case, as the number may go up or down based on a variety of things, such as new evidence, witness credibility, etc.
What I did not do is give a mathematical formula, because no such formula exists. The law merely entitles you to recover for your losses, including money to “make you whole again.” At trial, you are entitled to recover compensation for your medical expenses, future medical expenses, your lost wages, past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and any physical scars you have.
Economic Damages versus Non-economic Damages in Oklahoma
Some of these items have clear numerical figures, such as medical expenses and lost wages. We can go through documents with a calculator and arrive at those figures.
But other aspects, such as pain and suffering, do not have clear numerical values. So how do we arrive at those values? We simply come up with a number that we can is fair and just based on the totality of the circumstances. Then we doggedly pursue that number. And this is very easy to do when we both truly believe in the number that we came up with.
This is the essence of my explanation in the video above. Now there are many things that will guide our answer, such as the culpability of the defendant (was it intentional or merely accidental? How bad was the accident? Were they totally reckless?). We also take a step back and look at the big picture. How much did this affect your life, in total?
But at the tend of the day, it all comes back to the client. That is why I place so much value in my clients and their stories.