What makes cases more valuable in the eyes of both sides is whether the injured person has a permanent injury that will not resolve. Essentially, could both sides see a jury compensating the claimant for future pain and suffering beyond where the person is today? If so, then the person will have a case with unlimited damages. This poses a problem for valuation on both sides.
For the insurer, a permanent serious injury that will inflict obvious harm or disability is a case that needs to be analyzed and resolved if negligence is clear. So, what do these cases look like? Well, I am currently working on a case where a vehicle passenger’s right arm no longer fully rotates from palm up to palm down due to a crash. By any definition, he has a permanent and lifelong injury from this crash. The case will have to be resolved by the insurer. This is not a case that they will want to take to trial because it would not be hard for a jury to award large six figure numbers to my client for the injury.
On the Plaintiff’s side, these are high value cases depending on the extent of disability. However, they are also fraught with challenges. Often, clients with severe impairments are happy with lower numbers than the lawyer would like to achieve. The certainty of a settlement is important to the client, but most are unwilling to push cases to the courthouse steps or to a jury when there is real money being offered and the client knows that they have a real injury that will not go away.
Additionally, most plaintiffs’ injuries get better over time. People heal or adjust to their impairment. This means that the client will look better at trial than what they went through in the first two years of recovering. So, it is in both lawyer and client’s interest to get the case settled for the most amount possible before trial. But, from my perspective, it is always hard to judge when a client who is enduring a lot of pain and treatment is ready for settlement. Often, clients try to put off surgery as long as possible. Surgery increases case values, so putting it off makes valuation more challenging. A case where the client may have surgery is valued less than one where the client has already had two surgeries. But, as the lawyer, you don’t want to settle the case for the value of one surgery and then find out that the client had two more after that. That is either bad luck or impatience and costs both lawyer and client money. Doing a good job on these cases is a delicate balance and requires some really long discussions with clients about what they want, what their doctors want, and what they are realistically going to go through to get better.