The easiest case I encounter is one where the insurance does not nearly cover the value of the injury. So, let’s say that you are a pedestrian and a car jumps the curb in center city Philadelphia, hits you, and breaks your leg. You have surgery and need three months to recover. You have a lien on your settlement of $30,000 and the driver who hit you has the Pennsylvania state minimum auto insurance coverage of $15,000. I would estimate your injury as having a value of $200,000 or so. Since your injury far outweighs the insurance, the insurer will tender or just pay the fifteen thousand to me for the client upon me producing medical records showing the fracture and surgery. Maybe your own car insurance has additional underinsured motorist coverage, but it still likely will not be sufficient.  This is my easiest case. It is not the best case for the client because they will walk away with far less than the full value of their injury, but that is how the world works in personal injury. If the person who hit you had minimal coverage, it is unlikely that they will have any assets worth even thinking about pursuing.


The hardest cases are usually the limited tort cases where we have to prove serious impairment of a bodily function in a conservative county. Basically, if you select limited tort, you will get a fight from start to finish on the value of your case unless you have surgery. It is a royal pain. We fight these cases routinely, but they are truly tough because there is always the possibility that a jury finds the defendant negligent, finds your client injured, but finds that they did not breach the limited tort threshold. To my lawyer brethren, it is a lot like filing a lawsuit and losing at summary judgment. It just stinks. So, there is a serious effort to settle these cases to obtain something for the client rather than have them get nothing.


The other hard situations usually involve clients who think they will get better and don’t seek treatment between the time of the accident and several months later when they are frustrated and not improving.  For example, a delay in diagnosis of a concussion can be devastating to the valuation of your case. Insurers simply will harp on the delays between the accident and the first diagnosis and it is easy for a jury to defer to or rely on in giving your client nothing.  The reality is that it is better to seek immediate care and lay out every little bump and pain and then narrow down your serious injuries instead of toughing it out on your own at home. The same injury with two different treatment scenarios will result in vastly different settlement numbers.


Cases involving fatalities are always hardest on all involved. I regularly am working on a handful of cases involving deaths from various causes. I am currently working for families whose loved ones died in car crashes, motorcycle crashes, and carbon monoxide poisoning incidents. These are tragic and sad cases, usually involving people in their prime of life. I usually go to the funeral as a token of respect for the deceased and to understand how the deceased lived his or her life. Both sides in these cases recognize the gravity of the damages and often liability or negligence is the issue to be evaluated and is where the case is defended.  Nevertheless, as our most important and significant cases, the fatality cases get tremendous attention and focus from all involved. I am blessed to have a great supporting cast of fellow lawyers who can help with trusts and estates and other areas of the law that these cases require. Interestingly, since the deceased is not able to assist in the case preparation, a tremendous amount of work in evidence preservation is needed at the outset of the case. Videos have to be collected, text messages, accident investigation, and other areas all have to be examined in the initial month after the incident to ensure that the story of the death can be told fully and properly without the victim.