Written by attorney John S. Hone

How Lawyers evaluate the value of your lawsuit

People get involved in an accident, or are suffer an injury during treatment at a Hospital, or in child birth, and often times contact a lawyer to see if they have a case. Because of urban legends and old wive's tales about huge quick settlements, they are often dissapointed by the reaction they recieve from lawyers, and the questions that the lawyer asks them. Usually, the first question out of the lawyer's mouth is what are the injuries, what are the damages. Why is this the first question? Why does the lawyer want to know this before they even ask what exactly happened?

The answer is that the lawyer wants to know what the damages are. It is the extent of the damages that determines the value of the case. During the course of your first phone call or meeting with the lawyer, the lawyer is doing a calculation as to whether the case is worth handling. If the lawyer is experienced she or he can quickly mentally analyze the range of settlement, the costs involved, and the time and energy involved. The lawyer can communicate to the potential client whether he or she would be able to get a result that would be satisfactory to the client. In other instances, the damages are not readily apparent, or the facts of the incident do not readily evidence liability. If the damages justify it, the lawyer will investigate further.

So what are these mysterious damages? The most obvious is the injury. The more severe the injury, the more likely the damages will be greater as well. The money the lawsuit recovers is a factor of the damages. The type of case the lawyer is most apt to be able to get a significant settlement for a person, a child, a family, are cases that involve large SPECIAL damages. These are damages wherein there are specific costs involved, such as medical and therapy care, etc.... Usually, The biggest damages are the costs of residential home care in a life care plan, and the loss of earning capactiy. The lawyer is asking your these questions because she or he wants to know if your case will involve a LIFE CARE PLAN, or LOSS OF EARNING CAPACITY. Why? Because many states have Caps on the damages. For example, in Michigan, Medical Malpractice cases are capped at $420,000 per year. So if a father dies on the operating table, and he had no earning history, that is all his family could get, even if there were eleven children!!! But, on the other hand, if he suffers irreversible brain damage as a result of loss of oxygen to the brain during the surgery, but lives, the LIFE CARE PLAN could be multiple millions of dollars in damages, and not subject to the cap. If he was a wage earner, he would also be able to claim LOSS OF EARNING CAPACITY, which would not be subject to the Cap.

Does it seem unfair that damages can be limited, and even what a jury determines disregarded? If you think this is unfair, when you vote make sure you vote for a candidate that believes in the jury system. People that are fortunate to live in states where people value the constitution and right to a jury system, have more rights than those that live in a state where there rights have been voted away. Plain and simple.

Additional resources provided by the author

For additional information of the damages that are available to you in a medical negligence case, you can check your local statutes, or contact an attorney. Because the law is always in flux as the body of law is dependent of the decisions of the courts, which are happening every day, it is best to contact an attorney.

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