A fact is a thing that can be proven to be true. An opinion is a thought. Another way to look at it is a fact is history – it really happened, whereas an opinion is a fairy tale – it might be nice if it happened, but it didn’t.
This is an important concept to grasp when trying to figure out what your injury claim is worth. I’ll be the first to say that there can ONLY be opinions with regards to claim valuations. None of us has the power to say a claim is worth X and that be so. Our system is based on the idea that 12 jurors should figure out the value of your case, but with the same information, different juries can easily value claims in different ways, so hard and fast claims values are a myth.
However, there are opinions, and then there are opinions.
One type of opinion can be backed up by facts. This is the type of opinion that I generate when I review a case. I take into consideration all of the information surrounding a case – liability, severity of impact, medical opinions, diagnoses, treatment history, pre-existing injuries, documentation of damages, medical expenses, health insurance involvement, jurisdictional tendencies, recovery time, extent of recovery, permanency of injuries, just to name a few things – and I compare them with the knowledge of other cases I’ve amassed in nearly (as of this writing) two decades of practice in this area and I formulate the most objective and well-informed opinion that I can with regard to the value of a case. In other words my case value opinions are based on facts. My opinions are based on what I know about a particular case, actual outcomes of similar cases I and other attorneys have handled, as well as my experience in handling these cases over two decades.
There is another type of opinion which is based not on facts, but on something else. Sometimes it’s want. Sometimes it’s need. Sometimes it’s one case that a person may have heard about that may or may not bear any actual factual similarity to the case at hand. Sometimes it’s other things. But this type of opinion that I’m discussing at this point is NOT based on facts. It’s based on what a client might hope to happen, or what a client financially needs to happen, or some other thing that’s not based on an objective analysis of the facts of the case, relevant, historical events, legal training, and experience with that particular type of case.
I don’t know about you but if I was looking for advice on what my case was worth, I’d much rather rely on an expert’s opinion that is based on verifiable facts and experience, as opposed to a wish.
The moral of the story is this, kids: Maybe you think your case is worth this or that. But if you want to do yourself a favor, step back from your opinion for a minute and think about what that opinion is based on. Is it based on facts? Is it based on analysis of the various and sundry aspects of a claim that can affect its value? Is it based on what previous cases settled for that bear similarity to your case? Is it based on legal training and experience in that particular field with those types of cases? If your opinion is not based on those things is it really worth believing? Or is it simply what you want the case to be worth, or what you hope it to be worth? It’s good to have hopes and dreams, but I’m here to tell you, injury claims are not lottery tickets. Statistically, they do not result in great windfalls for accident victims. More importantly, if you do have a really high value case, I feel horrible for you, because that means you have suffered horrible and life-altering injuries, and I wouldn’t wish that on you. If you really want an idea as to what your case is worth, seek out an expert’s opinion and don’t rely on dreams.