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  1. #1
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    Mar 2010
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    Default How to Estimate the Worth of a Lawsuit Before Mediation

    Southern State: I have a personal injury lawsuit that is finally going to mediation. I have all the information in my lawsuit as I asked my lawyer for copies of everything - most of it I produced or acquired myself and forwarded to my lawyer. My case is rather unusual and a very good case with high limits.

    I do not trust my lawyer to obtain a fair settlement at the mediation if he wants to go to trial so he can get more money. How can I get an estimate of how much my lawsuit is worth before going to mediation?

    I am willing to pay to speak with a lawyer for his or her opinion. Even a ball-park estimate will do and I will not hold the lawyer I consult to that estimate. I know enough about how lawyers operate to be armed with all the information I can gather before the mediation. I will not pay to consult with an online lawyer as I have no way of confirming who I'm talking to or his/her credentials so please do not refer me to the Expert Law service.

    Will ANY lawyer tell me what my case is worth? My lawyer says there is no way to know what it's worth until the mediation. Is this normal? I know what the Proposal indicates but that is always changed in the legal process. I need to know if my lawyer is doing his job at the mediation because if he is not, I will need a new lawyer (yes, I have reason - see my previous and only post prior to this one).

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    Generally the lawyer has NO JOB in the mediation other than maybe explain the law to you and how things work.

    It is unusual for a lawyer to be at a mediation without the client, if you're saying that is what is going to happen.

    A mediator will spend most of his time talking to the plaintiff and defendant and will help them both understand the value of the case and generally who has the stronger case, etc. The mediation is NOT for the lawyers, it is for the principals of the case.

    If this is a battle between two insurance companies, substantially, you don't have to worry about collecting, but if the defendant is not backed up by an insurance company, being able to collect is going to be a big part of the decision for you as opposed to accepting a check for a smaller amount.

    After the mediation both sides have a better understanding of their position and that of the other side and then the lawyers will sit down and see if they can work out a deal. Sometimes the mediator will suggest a deal and it is accepted, but usually the lawyers are going to work it out afterwards.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    The value of your case turns on the strength of your ability to prove liability, the amount of damages you can prove, and collectablity. If by "high limits" you mean that the defendant has lots of insurance that will cover any settlement or judgment, great, but you have to get a verdict or settlement before that happens.

    I've met a lot of people who think their $1,000 claim is worth $1,000,000, or who don't understand the legal defenses to what they think is an open and shut case. One who comes to mind actually had a $250,000 offer on a case where there was a looming governmental immunity issue, did what you're doing - spoke to another lawyer who, instead of giving sound advice, decided to poach the case by telling the plaintiff that his case was worth far more, and who ended up losing on the governmental immunity issue.

    There's no scientific formula to determining what a personal injury case is worth. In no small part the mediation is going to help you feel that out - what the mediator thinks the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks you believe the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks you'll settle for....

    From what you've previously posted, it doesn't seem like the defense thinks your case is particularly valuable (as of March, with discovery closed, "medical records not requested, Defense not replying to letters for mediation, etc."). I suspect the six month delay between your accident and when you started to try to build an injury case is a factor - I would expect that they're going to suggest that your injuries arose form something that happened during that six month period. Your posts also suggest that your own lawyer doesn't see this as an easy, big money case.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    The value of your case turns on the strength of your ability to prove liability, the amount of damages you can prove, and collectablity. If by "high limits" you mean that the defendant has lots of insurance that will cover any settlement or judgment, great, but you have to get a verdict or settlement before that happens.

    I've met a lot of people who think their $1,000 claim is worth $1,000,000, or who don't understand the legal defenses to what they think is an open and shut case. One who comes to mind actually had a $250,000 offer on a case where there was a looming governmental immunity issue, did what you're doing - spoke to another lawyer who, instead of giving sound advice, decided to poach the case by telling the plaintiff that his case was worth far more, and who ended up losing on the governmental immunity issue.

    There's no scientific formula to determining what a personal injury case is worth. In no small part the mediation is going to help you feel that out - what the mediator thinks the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks you believe the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks you'll settle for....

    From what you've previously posted, it doesn't seem like the defense thinks your case is particularly valuable (as of March, with discovery closed, "medical records not requested, Defense not replying to letters for mediation, etc."). I suspect the six month delay between your accident and when you started to try to build an injury case is a factor - I would expect that they're going to suggest that your injuries arose form something that happened during that six month period. Your posts also suggest that your own lawyer doesn't see this as an easy, big money case.
    Thank you, Mr. Knowitall. The Discovery was not closed, it was my own lawyer dragging his feet and not getting the medical records until the last minute. Defense has been delaying on everything because they are paid by the hour. I began treatment and physical therapy right after the wreck and tried working with the insurance company. After six months, when the pain would not go away, I hired a lawyer because I realized it was worse than previously thought and knew the insurance company would never give me a good settlement (they were liable). Ended up having all kinds of injections and procedures, MRI's, Myelogram, CAT scan, surgery and 33 sessions of physical therapy. Much more to the case than I can go into. Actually, my lawyer does see this as an almost easy case with big money. My main concern is that if he wants to go to trial, he may not try for a fair settlement at the mediation.

    Sorry, Mr. Knowitall, but you came to wrong conclusions with a bias against my case. Only reason I need a good settlement is so I can afford more medical treatment to try and find someone who knows how to fix the pain that I must live with day and night. I have multiple degrees and my skills have been directly impacted by my injuries so even my ability to earn an income has been decreased. I just want an honest lawyer who will do his or her job. I'm not sure they exist.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    Sorry, Mr. Knowitall, but you came to wrong conclusions with a bias against my case.
    How can he be biased against a stranger on the internet?

    Honestly, people. If you don't like the answer you get, fine, you don't like it. But giving you a factual answer - based on the information you have provided - that you simply don't want to hear is not "bias".

    It's just you not wanting to hear it.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    Have you seen the scheduling order?

    I doubt anyone is dragging their feet for the sake of stalling things.

    I am in Florida but many states are doing the same thing. This is a rule since the first of the year.

    I filed a case last week and the sheriff served the 11 defendants on Thursday and Friday. The process service returns have not even gotten to the clerk yet and the court issued a scheduling order a couple of days ago.
    I have to serve the scheduling order on the defendant's who have been served, but the clerk doesn't even have the paperwork back from the sheriff.

    These can't be changed without extremely good cause and any lawyer here trying to b.s. the court is going to be sanctioned. I have 10 days to serve it on all the defendants and did so today, weeks before the answers are even due.

    The defendant's can't ignore a mediation order, and most civil cases must go to mediation. If the defendant's attorney is not cooperating on setting a date for mediation, for example, your attorney can file a motion to force them to meet.

    I would guess there is something wrong with your understanding of how things work and what is actually happening in your case.

    However, returning to your original question, you don't begin to provide enough information for any of us to plug into our crystal ball.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    LawResearcherMissy,

    If Mr. Knowitall knew-it-all, he/she would have addressed my questions rather than drawing conclusions based on limited and general information. Instead, he/she only told me what I already knew.

    It's not that I don't like the answer, it's that I haven't gotten one yet. I have been in chronic pain and on strong pain killers, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, you name it since the wreck. After 3.5 years of dealing with lawyers and a lawsuit, I'm not sure which is worse - the pain or the lawyers.

    I'm just an honest person who wants to be free of pain that was not my fault. I hired a lawyer to help me afford the medical care I need and have been paying for out of my own pocket all this time. I learned how lawyers use clients for their own benefit with little or no regard for the client's needs.

    Thank you for your reply.

    BTW, one of the most important lessons I've learned through it all is that anger will eat you up from the inside so let it go. If you bite, perhaps you need to avoid internet forums that often cause feelings of anger and aggression. Or maybe you use forums to release your angers and fear on strangers on the internet? If the latter is true, you are in the right place.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    It's not that I don't like the answer, it's that I haven't gotten one yet.
    Sure you did. The answer was:

    There's no scientific formula to determining what a personal injury case is worth. In no small part the mediation is going to help you feel that out - what the mediator thinks the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks you believe the case is worth, what the opposing party thinks you'll settle for.
    Or in short "No one here can answer that, that's what mediation is for."

    That you don't want to hear it, and think strangers on the internet can just magically pull a number out of thin air to make you happy, is your issue, not ours. We give factually correct answers, whether the querant likes those answers or not.

    And spare me your armchair shrinkery. Your bloviating just makes you look foolish.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  9. #9
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    Mar 2010
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    8

    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    Quote Quoting LawResearcherMissy
    View Post
    Sure you did. The answer was:



    Or in short "No one here can answer that, that's what mediation is for."

    That you don't want to hear it, and think strangers on the internet can just magically pull a number out of thin air to make you happy, is your issue, not ours. We give factually correct answers, whether the querant likes those answers or not.

    And spare me your armchair shrinkery. Your bloviating just makes you look foolish.
    Sorry, I am a shrink, no armchairs.

    I traveled many miles to have the mediation and as I suspected, my lawyer blew it. I was able to obtain estimates of my lawsuit worth from several lawyers - estimate - $500,000 to $600,000. My lawyer finally admitted the same during the mediation. When the insurance adjuster indicated $500,000, my lawyer shut the mediation down and shuffled me out the door. I had to stop him outside and tell him to accept the last offer but the other party had already left. He also hired the worse mediator in history, even my lawyer said it. The mediator said he always chooses sides in a mediation and was disrespectful to me and my lawyer. Now my lawyer is trying to force me to go to trial by making veiled threats of having my lawsuit dismissed or deliberately missing deadlines. I will accept the lowest settlement offered rather than go to court with that bastar$! I'm still in pain, on pain killers, sleeping pills and afraid of my own lawyer. If knew what I know now after almost 4 years since the wreck, I never would have hired a lawyer! I never believed in evil until I met my lawyer.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Estimate of Lawsuit Worth Before Mediation

    Quote Quoting lawpawn
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    When the insurance adjuster indicated $500,000, my lawyer shut the mediation down and shuffled me out the door.
    You're sugesting that the insurance adjuster offered $500,000 at mediation and your lawyer rushed you out so that he could reject it? And the mediator came back with a recommendation substantially less than the defense's opening offer, and your lawyer told you to accept it? Dream on.

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