Lawyers Blog

What Is My Car Accident Case Worth

Car Accident Attorneys – Personal Injury Law

Many people want to know the value of their auto accident case and, somewhat shockingly, will even choose their attorney based on the estimated value that the attorney gives their case. This is faulty reasoning. It is 100% impossible for any auto accident attorney to predict the value of what either an insurance company (during settlement) or a jury (after a trial) will place on their auto accident case. Jurors and insurance companies can pretty much decide what they want and there are no guidelines for them, other than courts sometimes overturn judgments that are too high (this is relatively rare but can happen).

car accident attorneys
Personal Injury

Five Factors Considered By Insurance Companies During Settlement Negotiations

That being said, during the settlement process, which means before any trial, the insurance company will assess a variety of factors to determine how much to offer you. Among other things, they may consider the following five factors. more info on this website

1. Who Caused The Auto Accident?
First, they consider whether the other driver was clearly at fault. One example might be that the other driver ran a red light and smashed into your car. Lawyers would generally consider that a “clear liability” auto accident case.

2. How Bad Are Your Injuries From The Auto Accident?
Second, the insurance company will consider the extent and permanency of your injuries. If your injuries were minor or did not last for a long time, the value of your case may be lower. We rely on medical records to prove this second issue. So you need medical proof if you have serious injuries, which means you need treatment and cannot rely solely on your own testimony to establish the extent of your ongoing pain or disability.

3. Can You Prove The Above Two Factors During Any Trial?
Third, the insurance company will consider whether you are likely to be able to prove the first two factors during any trial. This involves the consideration of potentially hundreds of minor sub-issues, such as whether any critical evidence might be admissible at trial, or whether a key witness is available, just as a few of many examples.

4. How Do Your Witnesses Measure Up?
Fourth, the insurance company will consider the reliability and demeanor of all witnesses, including you. This means they will consider whether the jury is likely to believe any witness and/or like you.

5. Can They Beat Your Lawyer, Either During Pre-Trial or Trial?
Fifth, the insurance company will consider whether your lawyer has seriously prepared your case and done a good job (or not). They are less likely to give away money if they believe that they can beat your lawyer, either during any motions or appeals that they plan to file, or during the actual trial. Along the same lines, if they refuse to settle before any lawsuit is filed, they may further wait until any “dispositive” motions are filed. Dispositive motions are basically motions that the defendant can file to try to get the judge to throw your case out of court, such as motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment. If the defendant is successful in these types of motions, then you cannot get to a jury (unless you win on a subsequent appeal, which may or may not make sense to file depending on the legal issue involved). So very often the settlement value will increase if you survive a motion for summary judgment in particular. But your lawyer’s success with other motions may also sway the defense counsel, such as motions allowing you to present very persuasive evidence. (In other news, the evidence laws alone fill books and present the basis for many potential arguments that can help or harm you, before and during the trial.)car accident attorney

What Do Jurors Consider During Trial?

If your case survives the pre-trial process and you get to a jury, which only happens in a small percentage of cases because most cases either settle or get dismissed before trial, then the answer depends on the opinions and attitudes of your particular jury. This actually can involve strategic questions about which county or state in which to file your lawsuit, if you have choices under the rules of procedure (which, like evidence rules, are also exceedingly complex and fill volumes of books), because different geographic areas are notoriously more or less favorable to plaintiffs. This again can involve many potentially critical motions filed and argued by your auto accident lawyer in court. Once you know your case will be heard by any particular jury, the value of your case depends on what they think of any evidence presented. Typically they consider the defendant’s level of fault, your level of contributing fault, and, again the extent and permanency of any injuries. They usually hear from you, the defendant driver, any witnesses to the accident, and any relevant experts. Your auto accident lawyer strategically may choose from a wide array of potentially admissible evidence to decide what might best sway the jury. And the auto accident lawyers often fight (on paper and during subsequent oral hearings) about whether the evidence code will allow various types of evidence.

So, as you hopefully see, your attorney cannot predict the value of your auto accident case. That being said, auto accident cases can range in value from nothing to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in damages, in cases involving severe injuries with clear liability and (important) defendants with large insurance policies.

One Sad Thing
If you were injured by an uninsured driver with no personal assets or cash, and you did not have uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage yourself, then the value of your case is zilch, regardless of any other factors. You cannot recover what does not exist. For this reason, it is a very wise idea for all residents to add uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage to their automobile insurance policies. This coverage often proves crucial when people are seriously injured and need money to survive without the ability to work.

Final Piece of Good News
You can recover a lot of money for serious injuries if you hire a highly skilled auto accident attorney. If you have been injured in an accident, please call my office for a free consultation.

Searches and Seizures in Drug Cases

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. In drug cases, the legality of how evidence was obtained is frequently challenged. If the government violated the Constitution, the evidence cannot be used. Without the evidence to prove the charges, the State may have to dismiss its case.

The Fourth Amendment provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In addition, similar provisions in each state’s constitution may afford even greater protections.

Warrants and the Protection of Privacy

Fourth Amendment protections apply to situations where persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as their home or personal communications, for instance. However, whether the expectation is “reasonable” is the key to whether it is protected by the Constitution. Reasonableness is context-specific. The court looks at an individual’s intention to keep something private and whether the expectation is one that society is willing to recognize as reasonable. Just as standards of privacy are constantly changing in society, Fourth Amendment law is also constantly evolving.

The government can intrude on such a zone of privacy only if the search or seizure is reasonable. Generally, a “reasonable” search or seizure is one supported by a warrant. The warrant itself has to be valid: It must be issued by a neutral judicial official, supported by probable cause and describe specifically the person or thing to be searched or seized. To establish “probable cause,” the law enforcement officer has to present facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime is being, or has been, committed.

Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement

The Supreme Court has recognized a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement. A warrantless search or seizure is still “reasonable” if there is probable cause and certain circumstances exist that make getting a warrant impractical or impossible. These exceptions include:

  • Search incident to arrest: searching a person after a lawful arrest to locate weapons and/or prevent the destruction of evidence
  • Consent: when an individual voluntarily waives his or her Fourth Amendment rights
  • Plain view: searching or seizing objects in plain view, if an officer has a legal right to be in that position where he or she is viewing the objects
  • Automobile exception: searching vehicles if an officer has probable cause to believe there is contraband inside and it would be moved before a warrant can be obtained
  • Exigent circumstances: when there is no opportunity to obtain a warrant due to an emergency situation, e.g., life is at risk

Besides these exceptions, law enforcement officers can conduct limited detentions and frisks without a warrant if they have an articulable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring.

Discuss Your Case with an Attorney

Analyzing whether a search or seizure was legal requires a close look at many factors. In a drug case, a successful challenge to evidence can mean the difference between a dismissal and a conviction.

Drunk Driving (DUI/DWI)

A drunk driving charge will have an immediate impact on your life, affecting your driving privileges and freedom. Alabama residents are subject to one of the severest set of penalties for DUI in the country. When charged with a DUI, it is imperative to get a lawyer involved immediately.

Mounting a Solid Defense

Contrary to popular belief, suspects do not have to take part in field sobriety tests. Nor are you required to take a breath test in the field. Consenting to either field sobriety tests or a field breath tests provides the officer with probable cause to arrest you.

Alabama residents are, however, required to consent to a Breathalyzer test to be administered at the police station. Often, this is the main point of evidence in the prosecution’s case against you.

I take care to examine carefully all details surrounding your arrest. Was the breath machine maintained and properly functioning? Was the traffic stop legal? Did the police administer the Miranda statement?

We examine precisely these types of questions for your defense. Deviation from any single procedure can lead to the dismissal or reduction of the charges.

Getting Results

I’ve spent my life helping people charged with DUI and other crimes. I know you rely on your ability to drive to make a living. I work to ensure you can keep your license or limit the suspension. I care about every client’s needs, and fight for your rights every step in the process.

Often, people do not realize the trouble they cause by simply pleading guilty to DUI charges. I can help avoid long-term damage to your record, and to your wallet.

If you have been charged with a DUI, be sure to consult an attorney within 10 days. Contact my office to schedule a consultation on what I can do to help you.