The insurance company’s first offer is based on the hope you will take the quick money and run. Lawyers who don’t care about their clients’ best interests can make a lot more money settling cheap and moving on to the next case, and the next, and so forth. In order to get pain and suffering the attorney must provide the insurance company or their lawyers details concerning the pain or difficulties their client experienced because of his/her injuries. If this is done properly the insurance company will get the message that the attorney cares about the client. In all situations the attorney must be willing to commit the time needed to set up a proper settlement for their client.
The attorney could make more money settling their cases quickly so they can move on to another client.
An attorney who details why this case supports a higher claim makes it easier for the adjuster or insurance company’s attorney to get authority to settle for more than the amount they will offer a lawyer who is only looking to get a quick settlement. One way they know this attorney is lazy is the initial demand. If the attorney just makes a “standard” demand with no details, then the insurance company knows this is a lazy attorney who will be willing to settle for far less than the case is worth.
Reputation of the attorney is key to a good settlement.
The insurance company and their lawyers know the reputations of many lawyers in the area, or they know the reputation of the firm the lawyer works with. This knowledge will affect the insurance company’s willingness to settle and the amount they will offer.
What about pain and suffering?
The client must have a situation that supports a higher settlement, including pain and suffering. They can only recover substantial pain and suffering damages if the injuries actually caused significant pain, suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. If the client is not able to honestly persuade their own attorney that the accident, injury, treatment and recovery was painful and difficult, the client will not be able to persuade a jury either. It is important that the attorney spend enough time educating the client so that both will understand the view a third party (like a jury or arbitrator) will have about the injury. It is very important that the client be credible and honest or a jury or arbitrator won’t care.
Attorney’s reputation is very important in maximizing the size of the award.
The case value should be based on what a jury or arbitrator is likely to award, not what the insurance company offers. If the insurance company doubts the attorney will take the case to trial, it will steeply discount the value. The insurance company does not want to try cases if there is a significant chance the jury will award more than Plaintiff was willing to accept prior to trial.
If the insurance company believes the attorney will not take a case to court will not offer as much as they would offer if they know the attorney can and will go to trial.
Never assume the attorney is telling you the truth. They may advertise a high “success” rate, but do not tell their clients that this is because they settle every case and rarely, if ever, take a case to trial. The attorney may say that the insurance company is afraid of them because they are “such good litigators”. Ask the attorney for proof of their statements. Look at the court records in the county or state where the attorney practices. How many times does that attorney appear in court? How many cases go through the entire trial? Ask the attorney for references and look at the on-line reviews. Is their office or clothing organized or a pigsty? Their physical appearance tells you a lot about their professionalism.
Do your homework before hiring any professional – doctor, lawyer, plumber or mechanic. Trust your gut.