Personal injury cases usually involve an insurance company. Individuals and businesses (collectively “the insured”) usually have liability insurance that covers them when a person makes an injury claim against them. The liability insurance company hires a defense lawyer to defend the insured against the personal injury claim. The insurer also pays to settle the personal injury claim if an agreement can be reached between the insurance company and the plaintiff. Because liability insurers are usually in control of defending and paying personal injury claims, we deal with insurance companies a lot.
I recently had a case where the insurance company did something that baffles me. We tried to resolve my client’s personal injury claim prior to filing suit. It was a simple automobile accident case where the defendant ran a red light and hit my client. We made a reasonable settlement offer. The client had reasonable expectations and his injuries were not catastrophic.
Rather than negotiate and enter a settlement for a modest amount, the insurance company made a “low ball” offer of around $14,000. The insurance adjuster told me that was the most he would pay. I told him that I was positive he would end up paying a reasonable sum if we filed suit and litigated the case. I urged him to just get reasonable now and resolve the case. He refused.
This really annoyed me. I don’t like the idea of people trying to “milk it.” But I get upset when big businesses try to “low ball” honest, hard working people. As a result, I filed suit and plowed forward toward trial.
As it turns out, the client kept having problems with his injuries. As sometimes happens, he did not get better. He got worse. This means his claim became bigger than we initially expected.
After almost a year of battling with the insurer, it recently agreed to pay the entire policy limit. That is much more than it would have taken to settle the case at the beginning. However, because the insurance company decided to “low ball,” it got stung.
Part of me wants to call the adjuster and tell him to be reasonable next time. I don’t like the idea of doing that. However, I hope he realizes what has happened and is reasonable next time. The fact that I get “low balled,” even though I am very experienced and good at what I do, makes me worry about how insurance companies treat people without a lawyer.