One of the most frequent questions that we receive at Clark and Steinhorn, LLC is "what is my Maryland car accident case worth"? The answer is often "We don't know yet" which may seem like we are ducking answering the question but in fact it is the truth and the only legally responsible answer.
This is because many variables go into evaluating each case. These include:
- Which insurance company you are dealing with. Virtually identical cases can produce substantially different offers from "thrifty" insurers to more "responsible" ones. This may make little sense when the ultimate determinant of a case's value is a judge or jury's decision but the fact is State Farm will routinely offer less for a case than USAA. The theoretical reasoning for this will be addressed elsewhere but it is important to know.
- How substantial the damage to the involved vehicles is. This too may seem insensible but insurance companies categorize some cases as " minor impact cases" and cite that as a basis for denying or undervaluing claims.
- The injuries sustained. Broken bones and structural injuries like herniated discs in the back or neck are worth substantially more than soft tissue injuries. Judges and jurors can look at a diagnostic image like an x-ray showing a broken bone but have more difficulty relating to injuries that are reported by the injured party but can't be objectively shown.
- The economics. Cases with higher medical bills and higher lost wages are worth more even if the injury is the same. Which is to say, if you break your leg in a crash and get more treatment from more expensive healthcare providers and you miss more time from your higher paying job, you will get larger offers from every insurance company. This may seem highly unfair but it is a reality with the strict limitation that there are occasions where doctors charge more than is reasonable and customary and that may undercut your case just as malingering and not going back to work when your doctors say you can, will not be well received by any judge or jury.
Ultimately it is important to understand that when you first meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, they will not be able to predict what your healthcare costs or needs will be and will not be able to accurately assess how long you will miss from work. Thus, they will not be able to evaluate what your case is worth until later in the life of the case when it is fully evident which insurance company is on the hook for the crash, what your injuries and resultant treatment is and what the economics of medical expenses and wage losses are.