PROVIDING SETTLEMENT VALUE TO PERSONAL INJURY CLIENTS
If you own, operate, or work with a personal injury firm, you have space and a need to introduce accurate case management and valuation strategies into your legal operations. Whether you are with a high volume pre-litigation personal injury firm, a smaller boutique litigation-focused firm, a hybrid model, or just simply want to unify your strategy of identifying good cases and case values, Law Firm Xcelerator has experience in implementing, following, tracking, and maximizing case values of files of all sizes and shapes customized to your personal injury firm. To that end, we hope these blogs will inform your process of investigating and increasing the effectiveness of your firm’s case evaluation strategy.
Law Firm Xcelerator can provide your firm answers to the following questions:
- How can my personal injury firm maximize our settlement values?
- How can we maximize our settlement values NOW?
- How do we decide what to recommend to the client?
- What is my client’s case worth?
- How do I explain what I think the case is worth to the client?
WHERE TO START?: Setting Realistic Expectations
As a personal injury firm trying to answer you and your client’s questions regarding case value, YOU understand your role and what you believe you can accomplish in any given case. However, unless YOU have communicated that same expectation honestly and often to the client, it can be difficult to reconcile the expected and realized results. The client has a want and need to understand what value you are bringing to the table, and the attorneys need to be able to explain it. Firm recovery can range from 25% to 40% in many instances. Can you show your work on a $1,000,000 settlement fee? Can you demonstrate how that math works in favor of the client? Law Firm Xcelerator can help provide effective and instructive strategies that your clients will understand and appreciate.
Discussing how an informed, thoughtful, and calculated process of case management and value setting has helped arrive at a fair settlement recommendation is the fundamental role for the attorney to the client. This is easy once the firm strategy is clear. Your personal injury firm and attorneys can show the effort you’ve given and the reasons for targeting a specific settlement value when it is supported through methods including case grading, value setting meetings, and regular case interval reviews. Law Firm Xcelerator can help you implement these concepts and increase your average fee as a result, and this blog will focus on case grading.
How do you or your firm decide what settlement to recommend to a client, and how do you work to increase that value? Medical management, investigation, negotiation, and litigation are some ways to move that needle for your clients. This is also where the transparency between the personal injury lawyer and client align and clarify reasoning and foster mutual trust and respect. As clear as that seems to the personal injury attorney, our clients still want to know where the settlement recommendations come from. You have either heard, or have needed to know the answer to, some or all of the below questions:
How much coverage do they have?
The claim is worth more than that, how can I recover more?
I want to recover more than the coverage, what do we do?
Can we find any more coverage?
It was very traumatic, why don’t they see it that way?
I don’t get it, I was in a crash and it was their fault, why is this taking so long and why can’t we settle now?
I don’t feel like I want or need to go to treatment, what next?
How much….will I be getting, will you be getting, will the doctor be getting?
I’m still hurt, what can I do?
Being able to answer those questions based on clearly communicated client expectations and fully informed discussions explaining decision-making will not only ensure a smooth and clear attorney-client relationship but also enforce the trust in the firm and attorney’s evaluation, including the resulting suggestions to the client.
Those are common but not exclusive questions our clients have for us, but by focusing on addressing these questions early and often as well as informing the client of the answers to those questions is critical. Throughout the process, the attorney and client will maintain a grip and knowledge of any other possible effects of the facts or coverage or treatment that will affect case resolution in a clear and as planned as possible. By following the processes promoted and managed successfully by the Law Firm Xcelerator team, we can provide your practice an effective and proven individualized model to follow in order to reach your firm’s needs and goals.
HOW TO START: Case Grading and Ranking
Your personal injury law firm, like many around the country, may have some difficulty in pointing someone to the best cases in the firm, much less the current value, at a moment’s notice. Having a consensus among all firm negotiators as to how cases are valued and by what measure is also critical for uniform firmwide value setting and negotiation standards. The advanced or senior attorneys, litigators, and owners may have an appreciation of case value for files that they know and own but not the cases with little exposure that the pre-litigation team members have knowledge of or could investigate more.
Some seemingly lesser valued claims that get settled below policy limits or in the absence of proper claim documentation could have and would support an increased recovery with proper medical management and investigative work when identified as needing it as early as possible. These cases can be directed to more frequent reviews or more advanced attorneys if ranked early and often. Naturally, the value added by increasing claim recovery is acting in the best interest of the client. Your best attorneys do that on your best cases. Similarly, identifying any file that belongs and should be closed in pre-litigation helps avoid unnecessary court filings and excessive case management once they are known to have a maximized grade, rank, or recovery.
If you knew that 80% of fee revenue would be generated by 10 files when you have 40 others that will generate 20%, what would you focus on? Case grading is intended to provide a personal injury firm a mechanism to identify these respective cases and find them the proper homes.
Law Firm Xcelerator recommends a case grading system based upon your firm’s Pareto point, which is a way of establishing where case ranks or grades may fall considering the percentage of fee generation by rank or grade. For instance, once the information regarding liability, coverage, and injuries are established or understood, the case should be categorized by a rating system and correspondingly assigned to the correct attorney or case manager for handling depending on where they fall on the revenue school. If your best attorneys are working the worst cases, or vice versa, the personal injury client’s best interest is for you to change that dynamic.
Grade Z: TOP CASE: The case is worth > $1,000,000
Grade Y: POTENTIAL TOP CASE: The case has the potential to be worth $750,000 -$1,000,000
Grade X: A+ This case is worth > $250,000 but < $750,000
Grade A: Placeholder. We know the case is worth more than $50,000, but not enough to grade an X, Y, or Z.
Grade B: Placeholder. We don’t have enough information to make the decision on rank at all, because it’s early or not enough coverage information, unknown injuries, etc.
Grade D: This case is worth $50,000 or less
Grade E: The max recovery on this case is minimal limits
Grade F: We need to close this file ASAP
By knowing where your case inventory falls by a grading scale designed to reflect your Pareto point, you can ease your team members file inventory by who is handling the case, reduce the time on desk for each file, and maximize the recovery of each file more efficiently.