An Edmonton-born app helps victims mediate settlements.
By Steven Sandor | May 9, 2021
Mike Zouhri has spoken to members of the American Bar Association on the topic of injury claims. Insurance companies have sought him out for advice.
Zouhri is not a lawyer. But he and Chris Trudel have developed an app, PainWorth, that helps accident victims calculate how much they can expect to be awarded for pain and suffering.
The app, launched in 2019, had over $5 million worth of claims recorded on its first day of operation.
Zouhri, a Top 40 Under 40 alumnus, is a far cry from the sort of ambulance-chasing lawyer we see on late-night television or on Better Call Saul. The reason he got interested in injury law was as a victim. In January of 2019, Zouhri was the passenger in a car that was hit by a drunk driver. He was rushed to hospital. He had a severe concussion. He says he will likely be taking medication for the rest of his life.
The driver was not insured. And Zouhri says he visited about a dozen lawyers, looking to see how long the case would take, the kind of damages he should be claiming. But he felt he didn’t get a straight answer. Zouhri says that, as a client, it’s a Catch-22: You want to shop around for a lawyer, but the lawyer can’t give you real details unless a retainer is paid.
So, despite having no law degree in his hand, he did some digging. And this is what he found. When someone sues for damages, a lot of what that person will ask for is straightforward. Lost wages. Expenses. But there is one big question mark — pain and suffering. What is a broken leg worth? A head injury? Generally, lawyers look at case law and see what was awarded for similar injuries in the past. But it’s grunt work.
“And that’s why it can take five years to get a settlement,” says Zouhri. “People are simply guessing at the numbers, and then arguing about it.”
But, he wondered, what if he created an electronic tool that would sort through the case law, and come up with a recommended pain-and-suffering claim? He did it, really, for himself, but then he and Trudel recognized that the app had wider applications. And PainWorth was launched in October of 2019.
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How does the app generate revenue? From insurance companies that have jumped on board. As the recommendations lead to mediated settlements, rather than costly court cases, they pay fees for bringing cases to PainWorth. The average user can access the app for free.
Zouhri is hopeful that the app can take many minor accidents out of the court system — freeing up judges and lawyers to handle the bigger issues at hand.
“This won’t work for every case; if you’re in a six-car accident which killed three people, you definitely shouldn’t be using the app, you should be going through the court system,” he says.
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This article appears in the May 2021 issue of Edify