Personal injury cases often garner much attention from the media, the public, and lawyers alike. These cases have the potential to pay six-, seven-, and even eight-figure awards due to a combination of factors.
The value of a case may increase when they are particularly destructive, involve multiple potentially deep-pocketed defendants, and concern a sympathetic plaintiff. As an attorney, especially a personal injury attorney, your short-term goal may be to see a $100K+ settlement, but you dream of seeing a multi-million dollar verdict. To reach these goals, you want to focus your law firm marketing on specific attributes and characteristics common to these high-value cases.
What a High-Value Injury Case Looks Like
High-value personal injury cases tend to have two factors in common: extensive damages and deep-pocketed defendants. If these factors aren’t present, it does not mean a plaintiff will not be successful, it is just likely the case will result in a smaller settlement or award. For this reason, some cases are worth much more than others. Marketing for law firms should focus on both these factors if their goal is to retain high-worth cases. Let’s take a closer look at both to understand marketing for lawyers in this field better.
Factor One: Extent of Injuries and Damages
The first factor to consider is the extent of an individual’s injuries. Typically, the more severe and permanent the injuries, the more damage and compensation. Think of major car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck collisions, and construction accidents.
These types of cases tend to lead to severe injuries, and as you might expect, the more catastrophic the injury, the higher the value of the personal injury claim.
Severe catastrophic injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Spinal cord damage,
- Severe burns,
- Loss of mobility, and
- Multiple compound fractures.
Any injuries that result in functional incapability, the loss of the ability to earn a living, and the inability to participate in daily activities, can come with high costs.
To focus your practice on high-value cases and retain those clients, you must market yourself as knowledgeable and experienced in catastrophic circumstances and injuries.
Examples of Significant Damages Cases
Let’s explore three types of high-value cases a bit closer.
Traumatic brain injury
For a client who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or has a loved one who suffered one, choosing the right lawyer is perhaps the most crucial decision in their life right now. When searching for an attorney, they are looking for someone they can trust, and getting them to do that takes expert personal injury law firm marketing.
The brain is the motherboard of the body, and any injury can be devastating. TBIs can be immensely painful and permanent and require lifelong medical treatment.
TBI cases rarely result in less than six-figure jury awards or settlements, and one of the reasons why is that the cost of a victim’s medical care can easily and quickly reach six figures. In most cases, even a settlement will be above $100K.
Many TBI cases are worth millions of dollars. As an attorney, you want to get those multi-million-dollar verdicts for your clients, firm, and business, so you want to attract TBI clients with effective law firm marketing.
Spinal cord injuries can be just as devastating as TBIs; sometimes, the two coincide, which can be particularly catastrophic. Spine injuries can quickly lead to tremendous damages for the plaintiff. Victims with severe spinal injuries, particularly paralysis, have had their worlds turned upside down. As a personal injury attorney, you must confidently market yourself in a manner that reassures potential clients that you are prepared to handle the magnitude of their cases.
Much like catastrophic injury cases, wrongful death cases have the potential to be high-value cases more often than not because of the possible damages involved. In addition to standard compensatory damages common among personal injury cases, certain damages are unique to wrongful death claims. These include damages for:
- Funeral costs,
- Lost inheritance, and
- Lost companionship.
As an attorney, marketing yourself and your firm to wrongful death claims, especially those resulting from a catastrophic accident, can prove lucrative to your business.
The best personal injury attorneys are the ones who successfully navigate the complexity of these types of cases, including dealing with multiple defendants, negotiating with insurance companies, and managing mountains of discovery. Your personal injury marketing should exemplify these attributes. Marketing yourself as experienced in high-value cases is vital to signing more high-value cases.
While it is generally a good rule of thumb to say that the more severe the injuries, the more the case may be worth, the client’s overall prognosis plays a prominent role in potential value. This is because an individual with severe injuries who is expected to recover fully will likely have a case worth less than someone with permanent injuries. In other words, severe injuries with anticipated full recovery are generally not worth nearly as much as those with lifelong limitations and medical problems.
The permanent negative impact of being unable to participate in daily activities and earn a living may entitle a plaintiff to compensation for past and future pain and suffering. Anticipated medical and adaptation expenses and future pain and suffering damages significantly increase that claim’s value over a lawsuit involving an injured party who fully recovered.
While a plaintiff may have catastrophic injuries giving rise to a potentially high-dollar claim, the money has to come from somewhere. If the defendant does not have deep pockets, your client’s recovery will be limited no matter how strong their claim may be.
Pain and Suffering
Can the client seek damages for pain and suffering? As most attorneys know, not all plaintiffs are eligible for pain and suffering damages for various reasons. However, when seeking high-value cases, it is imperative to attract clients potentially eligible for compensation for pain and suffering. This can include things like:
- Emotional damage,
- Mental health issues,
- Loss of consortium,
- Disfigurement, and
- Lost enjoyment of life.
If your client led an extremely active lifestyle prior to their accident, they will likely have a stronger claim for pain and suffering damages. Likewise, a client who suffers from PTSD or other mental health challenges as a result of their injury could have a claim that’s worth more.
Factor Two: Money
Notably, a defendant’s financial assets and ability to pay is equally essential to a high-value case. You may have a slam dunk case, but if the defendant is broke, the recovery is limited. Knowing where to look for deep pockets is a good place to start.
Insurance Policy Limits
One of the most significant contributors to a high-value recovery is applicable insurance policy limits. If you have catastrophic injuries, but there is not a lot of (or any) insurance coverage for the claim, your client’s recovery will often be limited to the extent of that coverage. For instance, if a client is involved in a private passenger car accident and the individual responsible only carries the minimum coverage, the case’s value will ultimately be slight. On the other hand, commercial insurance policies for large trucks or other commercial vehicles tend to have significantly higher policy limits.
As an attorney trying to take on high-value cases, it is necessary to inquire about potential insurance policies and coverage. From a practical standpoint, most PI plaintiffs do not try to recover damages from the negligent driver’s personal assets; instead, they recover compensation from their insurance coverage. You want to target high dollar policies.
Know Your Venue
Having an exceptional command of the law and understanding the surrounding venues and demographics can play a crucial role in your law firm’s marketing. As an attorney seeking to add high-value cases to their portfolio, it is a good idea to research local jury verdict trends and demographics.
Tracking trends in jury verdicts can help you narrow down the locations you may want to focus your marketing efforts toward. For instance, if research suggests County X tends to have smaller verdict awards than County Y, you may target your marketing to County Y.
Examples of Deep Pocketed Cases & Their Defendants
When thinking about types of defendants that may have “deep pockets,” most people are quick to think of large corporations, including construction companies and popular delivery services (e.g., UPS, Amazon, FedEx). Still, deep-pocketed defendants can also be the small business with a handful of delivery vans but comprehensive insurance policies.
Beyond motor vehicle accidents, deep-pocket cases can include:
- Product liability claims (e.g., defective medical devices),
- Premises liability cases, and
- Medical malpractice claims.
When considering whether the type of case has the potential for significant damages, it is essential to consider who the defendant might be. You want to market yourself to attract clients who slipped and fell at Disney World or Walmart rather than in their friend’s backyard.