Even though I’ve been doing this a long time there are some things about every case that feel new. I think that’s because every person is a little bit different, and every case is a little bit different.

When you get past the surface, no one is an average or run-of-the-mill person.

That begs the question: Does it make sense to go beyond the surface? In a case with $8,000 of chiropractic treatment it probably doesn’t move the needle. And it’s probably not necessary when someone has lost limbs or been rendered quadriplegic. But if injuries seem modest but are ultimately life-altering, it’s the only way to convey the impact.

Historically we’ve focused on creating a series of Instagram-like vignettes of our clients. But I’m rethinking that approach.

Only a full and unfiltered account can really explain the full extent that an injury has on a specific person.

Otherwise the insurance adjuster or arbitrator or the jurors are going to “appraise” the value of what has been lost by trying to figure out how the injury would impact them.

And it’s not how it would impact them. It’s about how it impacted the person who was hurt.

I have a Pinewood Derby car on my desk at home. My dad and I built it together. (In truth, he did most of the research, engineering and building; I helped.)

It won all the local races. He had to go to France for business and couldn’t be at the championship. It won all the races there too. I remember talking to him on the phone (long-distance was a big deal in 1976) and still can hear how excited he sounded.

My dad died in November. That Pinewood Derby car is worth more to me than the car I drive to work.

But it’s not worth more to you. And it’s not worth more to my neighbors.

If someone destroyed that car the fair measure of damages would be the value of what had been lost to me.

Not the version of me I like to present. Not the version that’s succeeded. Not the version that’s sure of himself. But the vulnerable version of me that deeply misses my biggest fan and best friend, my dad.

Would the car be worth as much to me if my dad was still alive? Probably not.

Setbacks, failures, regrets and losses make us unique. They also help explain why certain injuries or symptoms can have such a big impact on us compared to other people.

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