Life & Death and the value of a case. Thoughts in 3 points

Point 1:  We recently settled an automobile collision case for $1 million.  The client was happy but wondered if we could get more had we gone to trial.  It was a fair question but we were convinced that we had maximized the value of the case.  Our client, age 45, ended up with a lumbar spinal fusion and will have pain, reduced function and increased risk of recurrent surgery.  In assessing the value of the case we also had to determine our risk of losing in an anti-lawsuit environment; we had to calculate the award or value the jury might place on her injuries, and we had to determine if the jury would assign any fault to our client.  After all of that, and hours of mediation negotiations, we reached an agreement for $1 million....which leads us to point 2.


  1. In a recent case in Ohio a man who was pushing a disabled car to the side of the road was struck by a police vehicle. (see:  The man was hit so hard that he literally came out of his shoes.  The accident happened in the middle of the afternoon on a clear July day.  The officer flew past another vehicle which had slowed to accommodate the disabled vehicle.  The officer was driving at least 73 mph in a 60 mph zone. The decedent lingered for 9 months before dying.  He left behind a wife and two children.  And the case settled for $750,000.  Why did he get less than our client?  I don’t know for sure, only those lawyers do.  It could have been a combination of the analytical factors mentioned above.  It could have been the testimony of witnesses or the partial fault of others.  It could have been the lawyers involved or the venue.  No one knows.  One axiom remains true:  An injured living person is worth more than a dead one.  That seems awful and irrational, but it's a truism that has stood the test of time. Which leads to point 3.


  1. It is always a mistake to value your own case by comparing it to another one.  No cases are alike.  No injuries are exactly the same.  No fact pattern matches your case perfectly.  The juries aren’t the same; the venue isn’t the same...nothing is the same.  Don't assume because someone else received X amount in their case that you will get the same or a similar amount in yours.  All you can do is hire the best lawyer possible and follow his or her advice...and be patient. 

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