Questions & Answers / Who determines what a claim is worth?

Who determines what a claim is worth?

There are many players in the "claim game" that can vary the amount offered. Our experience is that the offers are higher when an attorney is employed by the claimant.
Without seeing the facts of your case, there is no reliable way to tell you how to value your claim. Truthfully, it is difficult even for experienced lawyers to do anything more than give you probabilities, because the outcome can be different even on identical facts. The reason for this difficulty comes from how injury claims are ultimately decided. If a case does not settle between a claimant and the insurance company, then the claim will be heard in the court system through a lawsuit. Before a case is actually filed in court, no “lawsuit” is taking place and no one is being “sued.” But if the claim does not settle, then a suit is filed. If the claim has an expected total value of less than $50,000 (in Maricopa County, Arizona), the case is assigned to be arbitrated first, rather than going to a jury trial. In an arbitration, an attorney will be assigned by the judge to be the judge and jury on the claim. Once each side has adequately prepared (or at least had a chance to do so) the arbitrator will hold a hearing in a conference room and hear the case. Then the arbitrator decides which side won and how much to award. Because arbitrators also have no formula to follow, and are human beings (yes, lawyers are human beings), the results will vary depending on the arbitrator’s personality, background, and mood. To further complicate things, if either side to the claim does not like the result, the whole matter can be appealed to a jury trial. Then, the whole matter is re-argued in front of a jury, usually of eight citizens, none of whom probably have any experience in law or accidents. Again, the outcome of the case can vary widely depending on the personality, background, and mood of the jurors. Consequently, it becomes very difficult to predict the outcome of any one claim. However, if tens, hundreds, or thousands of similar claims are considered, certain ranges emerge. It is those ranges that offer some predictability. We would think that the insurance company evaluation would be based on such averages or ranges, but recent revelations about how insurance companies decide what to offer show little resemblance to this method. In fact, some of the major insurance companies use a computer program that evaluates on the basis of what a handful of insurance adjusters think a case should be worth, not arbitrators, judges, or juries. Whether you are represented by legal counsel is one of the factors in their evaluation. Our experience is that the offers are higher when an attorney is employed by the claimant.