The value of your case depends on a litany of information. Before you make assumptions about the case value, it’s always a good idea to chat with a Columbus personal injury lawyer. (To schedule a free consultation with Tom Somos, click here.)
Valuing Your Personal Injury Case in Ohio
Here is a list of what must be considered when assessing the value of a case:
- The fault (lawyers call it liability or negligence) of the other party, based upon the police report or our independent investigation of the accident.
- The medical treatment you received as a result of your injuries.
- The doctor’s diagnosis (the cause and location of the pain caused by your injuries).
- The doctor’s assessment of the seriousness of your injuries.
- The doctor’s prognosis (outlook for the future).
- The doctor’s reports, charts and office records that have been provided to us.
- The amount of your medical bills and the amount of medical bills for future treatment your doctor believes are reasonably certain to occur.
- Any lost earnings you have incurred, or are reasonably certain to incur in the future, as a direct result of your injuries.
- Any expenses you have incurred, and are reasonably certain to incur in the future, as a direct result of your injuries.
Most of these important factors cannot be known until after you have finished your medical treatment.
Starting the Personal Injury Litigation
The filing of a lawsuit does not mean that you have to go to court. It simply puts the case in a more “formal” environment forcing the lawyers to exchange information in an effort toward reaching a resolution of your case.
During the litigation process, the lawyers conduct “discovery.” You do not really need to know all of the fine points of this discovery, but we will need your assistance in answering questions that will be posed to us about you and your claim.
The main instruments used for written discovery are known as “Interrogatories,” “Requests for Production of Documents,” and “Requests for Admissions.” These are questions related to your claim. Document requests typically ask for all of your records and bills related to the personal injury claim and any prior records for any similar injuries that you are relating to your claim.
Customarily, written discovery is exchanged first. After written discovery, lawyers typically want sworn statements from the witnesses. These sworn statements are called “depositions.” Both our office and the opposing counsel will want to do the depositions of the various witnesses to the case, including yourself.
These depositions can last anywhere from a half-hour to all day. The lawyers ask questions of the witnesses “under oath” with regard to any information about the case. The lawyers also will explore any reasons that the witnesses may be biased (i.e., a brother or friend of an opposing party would have reasons to slant the facts against you). When a deposition is completed, it will be typed up by a court reporter and available for all the parties to review.
There is no doubt the defense lawyer(s) will want to know your testimony. Before you are asked to testify, you will meet with your attorney to discuss what to expect during the deposition. Your attorney will be present at the deposition to protect you from any improper or deceptive questions, although these are rather rare.
Defense Medical Exam
In injury cases, the insurance company often requests that you be examined by a doctor of their choice. Sometimes this is before litigation has commenced, but usually this occurs after suit has been filed. We have a legal duty to comply with this request. You will be scheduled for an appointment to see a doctor chosen by the insurance company. The doctor will obtain a history from you, examine your medical records, do a brief physical examination of you, and write a report about your injuries. We will be entitled to get a copy of this report once it is completed.
Generally, the insurance company chooses doctors who will give opinions that minimize your injuries. Your job is to provide an accurate history to the doctor, be cooperative, and be careful not to overestimate or underestimate your symptoms to the evaluating physician. At the appropriate time, your attorney will provide you with more information about what to expect, which will assist you in evaluating the strength of the defense doctor’s position.
During the discovery process, the court will conduct occasional hearings to monitor the status of trial preparation. These hearings are often called “status conferences” or “pretrials.” The judge will set deadlines for the lawyers and check to see that the lawyers are cooperating in exchanging the necessary information in a case. However, most courts do require you to be present for a final pretrial held close to the trial date. That is often the time that settlement discussions occur. If your presence is required, your attorney will notify you in advance so that you can block off the time on your schedule to be available.
If your case has not settled, your attorney will continue aggressively to prepare for trial. Your attorney will have several discussions with you regarding the witnesses we will use, the evidence we will put on, and how much compensation we are going to seek from the jury. The expenses will significantly increase at this stage. Your attorney will prepare all of the necessary exhibits to be submitted to the jury, meet with you and the other witnesses, and keep you informed as to how long we expect the trial to last.
Talk to a Columbus Personal Injury Lawyer
Ready to talk to a personal injury attorney in the Columbus, Ohio area? Contact The Law Office of Tom Somos, LLC for more information. Schedule a risk-free consultation for more information.