I often hear from potential clients who ask if their case is large enough for me to take. Others wonder if I will devote enough attention to their case if it will not return a large award. I make a promise to do everything I can to get the most compensation for each of my clients. Yes, it is nice to win the big case, the headline case, but what matters is getting the most for each case.
Sometimes a small case turns into a large case. I have won several settlements and trials worth over $500,000 where other attorneys had turned down the case. Sometimes a case has a small value, yet every extra dollar can make all the difference to a client. After each case, I ask myself, “Did I do all I could to get the most for my client? Did I get my client all that I possibly could?”
What Starts Small Sometimes Turns into a Large Case
In recent months, I have won four very large cases for my clients, two of which I tried for other attorneys. Each case started small, with the client and others seeing little or no value in the case. By thoroughly investigating each case, by rigorously preparing for trial, by looking for every opportunity to increase the case value, I turned each of those small cases into big wins. Consider these outcomes:
- A New York City Transit Bus struck an elderly immigrant woman in Washington Heights. Transit Authority thought so little of the case that they refused to offer any settlement. By the time I finished investigating the case and presented it at trial, the jury returned an award of $500,000. (Click here to read more.)
- A woman’s mother died within days of entering a Queens nursing home. Other attorneys turned down the case. I took it promising only to investigate, but making no promises on whether we actually had a case. By the time we finished investigating, it was clear that we had a strong wrongful death and medical malpractice case against the nursing home. After we filed suit and completed depositions, the defendant settled for $625,000. (Click here to read more.)
- A young girl witnessed the New York City Police falsely arrest her father and beat him. The City offered a small amount to settle the case and all agreed that the daughter’s case was worth no more than half of the father’s case. By the time I finished presenting my case at trial, the daughter settled for $250,000, much more than anyone expected and almost as much as her father received. (Click here to read more.)
- A Bronx woman slipped and fell down the stairs on her way to work and broke her ankle. She thought she might collect some money from her landlord. After investigating the case, we found a pattern of problems in the building and a record of complaints about problems on the staircase. We settled the case for $350,000. (Click here to read more.)
I make no false problems that every case will result in a large court award or settlement. The lessons of these cases are simple. If you have a potential case, contact a personal injury attorney. If the case is at all viable, a good attorney will investigate the case. That investigation, if done right and in concert with the right professionals, may find value where no value appears to exist. As an attorney, I know that if I keep looking, if I prepare the best possible case, I can help my clients receive the maximum value for their cases. By fighting for every dollar, a small case can turn into a big case.
Every Dollar Counts
While everyone wants to hear about the big dollar cases, most cases are smaller. What matters to me is getting the most on each case regardless of size. Consider these recent cases:
- A woman tripped and fell on the stairs while attending a show at a Broadway Theater. The woman broke her finger. While the finger healed, the woman grew frustrated that the theater would have such an obvious defect in the stairway. We pursued a case. The defense offered $1,000. After much back and forth, I was able to raise the initial offer to $5,000. Now $5,000 is not the largest case, but increasing the initial offer by 500 percent made a difference for my client and put substantially more money in her pocket.
- A woman slipped and fell in a Long Island supermarket. I assessed the case as worth between$15,000 and $20,000 at trial given some of my client’s prior conditions and some concern about proving liability at trial. My client wanted to have surgery on both her knees and a settlement that low would not pay for the surgery. By working with her doctors and engaging in extensive negotiations with the insurance company, we were able to settle the case for $25,000. In addition, I negotiated to lower a medical lien the woman owed so she could keep more of her settlement.
- A woman hurt her back in a car accident, yet it appeared that she would have difficulty meeting New York’s serious injury threshold and would be left with nothing for her injury. While her soft tissue injury was minor, it was real. The insurance company offered to settle the claim for less than $3,000. After substantial negotiations, we raised that offer to $6,000, putting several thousand dollars more in my client’s pocket.
None of these cases would make headlines, but for each client, their particular case was the most important one in the world. By keeping the faith with my clients, by fighting for every dollar I could win for them, I helped each person receive the most he or she could. It is never simply about winning a case or settling; it is about doing my best for each client.
I hope you have found this information helpful. I practice personal injury law in the New York metropolitan area. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury through the negligence or recklessness of another, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have questions, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York. I will be glad to answer your questions and assist you. There is never a charge for this consultation. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me. You can also visit my website or read more on my blog, New York Law Thoughts.
Carol L. Schlitt
New York Personal Injury Attorney
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney.