This is something we get asked a lot. So, I thought it made sense to talk about the issue.
Let me start with the rule:
At trial we don’t get to show the jury what the settlements or verdicts were in similar cases. We don’t get to tell the jury what we demanded or what defendant offered. The jury bases its decision on the evidence specific to your case.
But there’s always more to the story than just the rule.
We learned in law school that real estate is unique. No two pieces are exactly alike. But I don’t think that’s 100 percent accurate.
At the high end of the market—let’s say waterfront property on Lake Washington—no two pieces are going to be the same. Past sales aren’t necessarily a good predictor of what a specific house is worth. There aren’t enough truly comparable data-points.
A house at the tip of Hunts Point just sold for $60M. The houses around it traded at $15M – $20M. Before the $60M sale there wasn’t enough data to predict what it was worth. No one knew until the transaction actually occurred.
Compare that to a townhouse in Issaquah. In a development with 250 virtually identical townhouses. Most realtors will look at the square footage, whether there are stainless steel appliances, etc., and be able to tell you within $1,000 what the townhouse is worth.
Personal injury cases are unique too. But some of them are like the townhouse in Issaquah and others are like the house at the tip of Hunts Point.
If you suffer a cervical sprain/strain injury and have six weeks of chiropractic treatment your case is probably worth a multiple of (like three times) treatment expenses.
Cases with bigger injuries don’t really lend themselves to that kind of formulaic valuation.
Value really depends on individual factors. Will a jury like the plainiff? Will a jury dislike the defendant? What injuries did the plaintiff sustain? How did those injuries affect what the plaintiff did before the wreck?
That’s why it’s helpful to have lots of photos showing what life was like before and after the wreck. Same thing with testimony from friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, etc.
Ultimately the damages awarded are going to represent the difference in life before and after the injury.