Every client wants to know what their cases is worth. Some clients–probably most clients–have expectations about case value. Sometimes their expectations are in line with market value. Sometimes they’re not.
The dynamic is a lot like Antiques Roadshow:
Antiques Roadshow is an American television program broadcast on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Public television stations. The series features local antique owners who bring in items to be appraised by experts. Provenance, history, and value of the items are discussed.
You know from watching Antiques Roadshow that there are three kinds of people. The kind who know the value of their item. The kind who have modest expectations and are delighted to find out the item is worth more than expected. And the kind that appear on the show thinking their item is worth millions only to be crushed by the reality that while it looks like an original it’s actually a clever knock off.
Clients are a lot like participants on Antiques Roadshow. Some have good information and are right on the money. Others undervalue their cases. These two types of client are relatively rare.
Most clients have strong expectations. Their expectations are usually based on one of two things: (1) what a friend or a relative received for their personal injury case or (2) financial need (or perceived need).
The first group will tell me about how a friend, or friend of a friend or relative of a friend of a friend was barely hurt and recovered a wheelbarrow full of money. What the first group doesn’t appreciate is that either the story was exaggerated by the time they heard it or there was something about the friend of a friend’s case that made it different and special. It’s a little bit like the difference between Ben Franklin’s actual diary and clever reproduction from the early 20th century. Superficially they may look similar but there’s a big difference in terms of value.
The second group makes a connection between case value (and typically what they will net) and an external financial need. Sometimes it’s the amount owed on the truck or motorcycle. Other times it’s how much the client will need to pay off the mortgage. While these financial needs are valid, they’re not valid bases for forming expectations or making decisions about cases.
The real point of reference should be the “market” value of the case–what an insurance company will pay to settle it or a jury will likely award. We don’t care how much money you need to pay off your house, it doesn’t make sense to list your 2004 Honda Accord for $173,000 in AutoTrader.
There’s usually pretty strong linkage between the amount of treatment someone receives and what their case is worth. It’s not always true but most of the time the quantum of treatment equates to the severity of the injury and the impact it has had on a person.
We’re happy to talk to you about the value of your case and help set realistic expectations. Just like Antiques Roadshow, sometimes the truth hurts. Other times it exceeds expectations. Either way, you need to know what your case is worth in order to maximize value and make a good decision about whether to settle or try it.