If you were a plumber you’d laugh at me

A guy walks into a bar.... no, not really. But a guy writes to me asking today's question, when it is obvious to me he's walking right into an insurance adjuster's sucker punch. Today, again, I attempt to explain why there isn't a short cut to valuing a personal injury claims. 

Question: How much is my injury worth in dollars?

Question Detail: Delivery ramp fell from underneath me while at a delivery site. As a result, I have permanent partial disability in left shoulder/arm. After investigating the accident scene for possible cause of ramp failure, it is my determination that ramp was not seated correctly, nor was locking mechanism installed. The ramp was not broken or repaired in any way; in fact it is the same ramp they continue to use to this day. Medical bills (roughly) $20,000.00, loss of job, left (dominant) shoulder/arm permanent damage, pain and personal suffering.
Answer: Based on the little information provided there is no way to determine value. Nor would I even try.

Why? Because all legitimate legal claims must be worked up meaning the facts underlying liability and damages must be fully understood before a value may be placed on any personal injury case. But your question poses an even larger dilemma for any lawyer who understands personal injury law. There is a major question that clouds the picture. Is your case a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party liability case? Do you have one case or two? Is there a lien, subrogation and has the workers’ compensation carrier given consent to settle?

You haven’t a clue about what you are doing or the ramifications of doing it wrong. And if you think I can explain what I’ve learned about the confluence of the work injury and the liability of some third-party property owner you are wrong. You haven’t got that kind of time.

If you were a plumber and I telephoned your office and asked, how much it will cost me for you to fix my toilet, you would laugh at me. Why? Because I’ve provided no information about what is wrong with my toilet. All I’ve said is there is a problem with my toilet.

Your legal question is no different to me, a legal plumber.

Asking me about the value of your case without hiring me to do the job right is a waste of your time and my own. 


Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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