Q: I have just had a leg amputation because of the negligence of another, what is my case worth?
A: The value of an amputation injury case depends on many factors, and no two cases are alike. For that reason, any attorney who tells you exactly “what your case is worth” is making empty promises. The best that we can do as lawyers is to provide you a range of what we think a jury verdict might be and what we think the defendant may offer in settlement. To be sure, the loss of a limb is devastating and in almost every circumstance the value of your case will exceed one million dollars.
Essentially, the “value” of any case is one of two things: (1) what a jury awards you if you elect to take the case to trial; or (2) what the defendant is willing to offer in settlement, assuming you are willing to accept the settlement and eliminate the risk in going to trial.
Trial Value: For a more comprehensive explanation of the trial of amputation case, please see my article, “Glimpsing the Future for An Amputee,” which is used as a guide for litigating limb loss cases by attorneys across the country.
Generally speaking, the value of any case will depend on a variety of factors, such as:
- the jurisdiction/venue: are jurors more conservative, is the economy depressed, or is the venue a major metropolitan area with more liberal view points;
- Is the plaintiff likeable? Is she taking responsibility for her life, and trying hard to rehabilitate rather than sitting at home feeling sorry for herself;
- the strength of the liability case: in other words, is it clear that the defendant is at fault?
- the amount of economic damages: this includes past and future medical bills as well as lost wages;
- how the injury will affect the plaintiff for the rest of her life;
- the skill of the plaintiff’s attorney.
In an amputation case, the cost of the future prosthetic life care plan will most often be the biggest element of damages and can be millions of dollars. My article “Glimpsing the Future for an Amputee” explains how to persuade the jury to award full and fair compensation for future prosthetic care. In realizing the full value of your case at trial, you must hire an attorney who has a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of prosthetics, and a relationship with the top prosthetic experts in the country.
Settlement Value: This represents the value of the case without going through the risk of a jury trial. The same six factors listed above apply to the settlement value of any case. However, the willingness of the plaintiff’s attorney to take a case to trial is perhaps the biggest factor in what a case may settle for without a trial. Insurance companies and defense firms know which lawyers take cases to trial and also know the lawyers who will settle on the courthouse steps. Before hiring an attorney, you should scrutinize their trial record and ask them about the last time they were in trial.