You are filing a lawsuit. You were injured in a car accident and want to recover compensation. How much should you ask for?
You have read in the newspaper, or on the Internet, or heard on television or radio, of injured people who demand millions of dollars in their initial court filings. But later, you may read that they settled for a lot less. What should you do?
HOW MUCH TO ASK FOR IN YOUR LAWSUIT?
If you are filing a case in New Jersey, the answer is “not much.” In New Jersey, the court rules forbid you from asking for a specific amount in most personal injury cases.
Now, if you were suing for breach of contract, things would be different. In such a case, you probably would know exactly how much monetary loss you suffered. You would simply specify that amount in your suit papers.
In most injury cases, on the other hand, even an experienced attorney does not know exactly how much the case is worth at the beginning. This is because it all depends on how well you heal from your injuries. Moreover, it also will depend on the views of the people who will ultimately sit on the jury that will hear your case.
Indeed, even at trial, your personal injury lawyer cannot, by law, ask even the jury for a specific amount of money for you. It is the role of the jurors themselves to determine exactly how much compensation you will receive.
That is not to say that a personal injury lawyer has no influence in obtaining a specific amount of compensation for you. A good personal injury attorney will handle your lawsuit in such a way so as to persuade the eventual jurors to award a favorable monetary award to you.
You can read actual New Jersey Court Rule 4:5-2 here, at page 16. The rule describes how to ask for monetary damages in your initial court papers.