The First Step: Wait.

The first step for determining the settlement value of a personal injury case is to wait. You have to wait until the client is either done treating or has reached "maximum medical improvement". When that happens, you can look back at all the client have been through and decide what the pain and suffering is "worth". Also, at that time you will know whether the client has any "permanency", meaning whether she is going to continue to suffer for the rest of her life. If her doctor says the condition, pain, or disability is "permanent", then you can claim pain and suffering compensation for the client's natural lifetime.


Step 2: Look at What Other Juries Have Awarded People with Similar Injuries

The next step is to look at what other juries have awarded people with similar injuries. You can figure this out both by looking at past verdicts you, the lawyer, have gotten in court for other clients, and also by cases you have read about. All personal injury lawyers should religiously read a weekly publication called the "Jury Verdict Reporter" for the State he or she practices in. The "Reporter" describes in detail plaintiffs' injuries and what juries have awarded for them.


Step 3: Calculate the Probability of Winning/Losing

Next, you must consider the probability of winning or losing at trial. If you believe you have a 100% chance of winning (this is rare!), then the settlement value of the case is 100% of the "full value" of the injury. But if you believe you have a 20% chance of losing at trial, then you reduce the value of the case by 20% for settlement purposes.


Step 4: Take into Account Where the Case Will Be Tried

Next, you need to take into account where the case will be tried. Juries in certain big-city venues, such as Buffalo or NYC, tend to give much bigger awards than rural venues. You need to adjust the settlement value up or down according to where it is being tried.


Step 5: Take into Account Miscellaneous Facts that Might Impact a Verdict

Is you client attractive and likable, or is she or he come across as arrogant or a whinner. Is she a fighter who has clearly tried to make the best of her injuries, or does she display self-pity and helplessness. Subtract or add to the settlement value accordingly.