It's inevitable. You're nosy neighbor sees you hobbling in the street with crutches while walking her dog. She comes over to chat you up and the next thing you know, she's learned you are bringing a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries. Being naturally curious she asks you the offensive question:
“How much are you suing for?”
As if it's any of her business!
However, being the nice neighbor that you are, and not wishing to offend your neighbor you tell her that the amount you are suing for is not relevant or related to your actual injury. She appears confused by your answer. She's hoping you will tell her that you are suing for many millions of dollars. She's excited by the prospect of spreading gossip throughout your community.
She wants to be able to tell her friends that she knows someone who is suing for millions of dollars. Then she wants to give you her opinion about the legal process and her views on injured victims seeking compensation.
The last thing you want to hear are her opinions.
Instead, you just out for a simple walk getting some air while you recuperate from your tragic injuries.
Now your day is interrupted by your nosy neighbor who clearly doesn't understand what those numbers mean.
The best explanation you can give her is to let her know that in an accident case in New York the attorney is required to put a number down on the lawsuit papers that start your case. That number is an artificially inflated number designed to create the absolute maximum you can receive as compensation for your injuries.
If your case goes to trial, it will ultimately be up to a jury to decide how much compensation to award you. If the amount that you put on your lawsuit papers is less than what the jury awards, it will be very difficult and challenging for you to increase that initial amount in order to obtain what the jury awarded.
That is why all attorneys in New York who handle accident cases will always put an overinflated number in the initial complaint that starts your lawsuit. The reality is that it has no rational relationship to the actual injuries or damages you have suffered.
If you're case involves medical malpractice, then by law, we are not permitted to put down an amount that you are suing for. It's an unusual fiction that still goes on today. Rather, a jury will ultimately decide how much money you are to receive if your case goes to jury verdict.
Your nosy neighbor probably doesn't mean any harm by asking you this question, but does it because she simply doesn't know any better.
If you take a few moments to give her the reasons behind those numbers, she'll have a better understanding of how much you are truly suing for.