I got hurt in an automobile accident. I have talked to two different lawyers. The first lawyer listened to what I had to say, explained the law and the legal process to me, and answered all of my questions but one: he said he could not tell me his opinion of the value of my case. He said that he would not be able to do so until after I finished medical treatment and he had a better understanding of what long-term consequences I would have from my injuries. He also said more investigation was needed on the facts of the accident and the resources of the person who caused my wreck. The second lawyer told me that he thought he could get me $1,000,000 and maybe even more. I sure like what the second lawyer said and it seems to me that if he can get me that amount of money he is the right person to hire. Am I missing something?
You should not hire any lawyer who tries to tell you that he or she knows the value of your case the very first time you meet with them. Never. Under any circumstances.
Why? Because experienced lawyers know that a detailed investigation must be undertaken before a value can be put on a case. Lots and lots of factors impact the value of a case, and no lawyer can honestly, accurately evaluate a case the first time they meet a client, particularly if they have not done any investigation of the case before meeting the client.
So why do some lawyers do so? These lawyers want you to hire them and they think that if they tell you the value of the case and the dollar value meets or exceeds your expectations you will hire them. Stay away from these lawyers. They are too eager for your case.
One way to test the answer given by such a lawyer is to ask the lawyer this question: Are you willing to guarantee in writing that the settlement or judgment in my case will be $X (the amount they suggested earlier)? Almost all of them will quickly back off their previous number, and will quickly say that there are lots of different factors that can impact the value of the case. (If that is so, why didn’t they just say that earlier rather than give you a number?)
I repeat: do not hire a lawyer who tries to tell you that he or she knows the value of your case the first time you meet with them. Instead, look at the factors listed in our Legal Guide: Understanding How to Hire a Lawyer in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases.