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How Much Is My Accident Case Worth? It Depends! Part 2

Dale Gribow Feb. 16, 2022

Though it may not be clear to all, LA juries are composed of more wealthy and liberal jurors, who do not hold back on verdicts. In addition it is easier to get medical treatment on a lien in LA than here in the CV. Though not determinative, the more the Meds and Injuries, the more the case is worth. The likeability of your client is also a factor. Will the jury like the client? Does s/he have tattoos over their entire body or are they handsome or well known?

Unfortunately, Riverside County is the busiest county in all of California for Trials. The Indio Court is backed up because of COVID and because the Riverside DA will not enter into Plea Bargains/Deals, like they did in past years and criminal takes priority over civil. Thus we trail behind thousands of criminal cases that are congesting the Indio courts.

The court can send the trial out to downtown Riverside itself, or Murrieta and Banning. Insurance companies knowing there is very little likelihood of the case going to trial for up to 5 years, AFTER the filing, don’t have an incentive to settle. They can thus sit on their money, invest it and pay settlements from their profits… 5 years later.

I know it sounds silly, but people who have been in an accident will call right after the accident and ask, “what is my case worth?” One interpretation is that the party is in it for the money only, and not interested in getting medical help or even needing it. Unfortunately, that is the position of all insurance companies. Of course, everyone wants to know the case value as soon as possible… just as victims want to learn their diagnosis in the doctor’s office.

Having represented many many celebs and VIP’s, I have seen that juries tend to bend to them. They are more believable and thus are awarded more money…correctly or not. I remember, in the beginning of my career, how in the Burt Lancaster trial the jurors loved him.

Other factors considered in valuation: Are there prior injuries/claims? How long ago were they? Did the medicals on the prior case say the patient had recovered or was further treatment necessary? If so, the insurance company on the new case will argue that some or all of the treatment was from the first case. Had the patient been treated by the same MD/Chiro before the accident? I always recommend treatment, from any doctor other than a prior treating doctor.

Did they treat with their own docs rather than ones suggested by the lawyer? If so, everything you have ever told the doc is discoverable when they subpoena your med records. Prior medical complaints; referrals to a Psych; Sexual diseases; Alcohol and Drug abuse; Abortions and maybe even statements blaming a family member for something, are all there for everyone to read.

Did the first case have very high Property Damage? Did this new case have a scratch? Was the damage to the side or rear? Rear end damage results in Whiplash, whereas a side swipe may not…or so the insurance company will argue. Remember if the case is filed, the insurance company can set up an (IME) independent medical exam with their doctors. These are far from independent exams. If the docs want to continue to work for the insurance company, they must fall “in line”.

The law follows the medicine. In other words, the extent of the injury and the care that was needed, the residuals of the injury, as well as time lost from work and the need for future care, are all factors in the ultimate award.

If a jury or a trier of fact (judge/arbitrator) or the insurance company determines that the accident complaints were exaggerated or excessive, then the matter loses value. When a plaintiff gets caught in a lie or lies, the effects on the case can be, and frequently are, devastating. A medical exam starts with a history and the patient is asked why s/he is seeing the doctor. The patient should have a thorough list of their complaints so that there is appropriate documentation.

That is why I advise client to bring a list of pain, from the top of their head to the bottom of their toes, before going into the doc’s office. The severity of pain, associated complaints, and onset of pain are all helpful. Pain is not always immediate. There can be a gradual onset of pain or sometimes one can become aware of pain with activities. I remember when I was rear ended, I had whiplash and only when I dropped my pen and bent to the side, did I realize the pain I didn’t know was there.