Settling a Personal Injury Case-Case Value

Settling a personal injury case requires understanding how an insurance company views a personal injury risk. This is what I have learned in dealing with insurance companies

Two Values. A personal injury case has two values. One, the most the insurance company will pay for the case. Two, the amount a jury will award for the case. When we settle a personal injury case we make sure our client receives the most the insurance company will pay for the case short of a jury verdict.

How the Insurance Company Decides Value. Most insurance companies evaluate case value like they set premiums-based on statistics and risk. They evaluate the injured person. The more solid and appealing the person the better the case. They evaluate the mechanism of the injury. The more clear cut and understandable the better the case. They evaluate past and future medical treatment. The more medical doctor treatment and clear future treatment the better the case. They evaluate economic past and future loss looking for documentation that supports the loss. Most insurance companies have a more difficult time with general damages such as pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment and disfigurement. This is why the lawyer is important.

The Lawyer. The insurance company evaluates the lawyer who has the case. The more likely the lawyer is to try a case the more risk the insurance company sees. A trial lawyer presents risk-the risk a jury will like the case with a verdict more than the mean result.

Offering Mean Value. Based on their evaluation, the insurance company arrives at a bell curve value. The bell curve is the result of insurance calculations on the range within which the jury will award the majority of the time. There is low range and high range value within this bell curve. The insurance adjuster is given authority to settle within this range and this is where the final offer will be. The first offer will be low and the negotiation goes from there.

He Who Speaks First Loses. After the insurance adjuster has evaluated the claim and received his authority he contacts the plaintiff lawyer with the insurance company’s first offer. This is often low and it is  less than the insurance company will ultimately pay. This is where the negotiation starts- the high of great day jury value against the low of  a minimal jury result. In negotiating with the adjuster we know the reasonable settlement value of the claim. Reasonable settlement value is the amount a jury will most often award for the case. The key is to get all of the adjuster’s authority (which is the most the insurance company will pay) and then determine if this is within the average jury range.

In getting there remember the maxim-He Who Speaks First Loses. Put simply when negotiating always remain silent after presenting an offer or counter offer. Resist all temptation to keep talking after giving your number. Do not say anything until the adjuster gives his next number.

Decline the Low Ball. Some insurance companies, particularly in a difficult economic climate, will never get to a fair settlement proposal. Often these companies have a corporate policy of using an impersonal computer evaluation that dictates a low ball offer the adjuster is stuck with. Knowing fair settlement-the amount a jury will usually pay-allows for recognition of a low ball unacceptable offer. When this occurs we advise our client to decline the offer and try the case.

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One Response to “Settling a Personal Injury Case-Case Value”

  1. […] Read more here: Settling a Personal Injury Case-Part Two | Zen Lawyer Seattle […]

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