Frequently, I’ll have a conversation with an adjuster that goes like this:
Adjuster: We’re offering to settle for medical expenses plus $1,000 in general damages.
Me: My client can’t accept $1,000 in general damages as full compensation. She is still in pain more than a year after the car collision. What are you basing your offer on?
Adjuster: The offer is based on verdicts and awards for people in Kennewick, Washington, with similar injuries, similar car accidents, and similar medical expenses.
Me: So, you are basing it on averages? My client is not the average client, nor are her injuries average.
Adjuster: I usually get it right.
Me: I’m pretty sure you’ll be wrong this time (just like you were last time).
And negotiations come to a close. Well, six months to a year down the road, it turns out the adjuster was wrong, way wrong. And that’s why we don’t settle claims that don’t conform to the adjuster’s expectations. And the adjuster’s potential claim ends up looking bigger and bigger.
The problem with insurance companies, especially the national ones like Allstate, GEICO, Safeco, and Farmers who use computer programs like Colossus, is that they are taking the human factor out of the equation. One way they do this is by ignoring the fact that there are outliers. If a jury verdict was abnormally large, they just remove it from their comparative awards. And they ignore the fact that I know my client and they don’t.
For example, not long ago I was visiting a client and her family at their home. She had a neat, nice home and beautiful family, and she was very concerned about her ability to help support them. She was pregnant at the time of the collision and had suffered fairly significant injuries that forced her to change careers. Initially, the insurance company had offered her very little, so her claim was decided in arbitration. The arbitrator met my client, saw how sincere she was and how serious the injuries were, and awarded her many times more than the insurance company’s original offer. But the insurance company was so focused on statistics that they appealed the arbitration award. There was one problem – her husband was the at-fault driver and their decision to appeal was also bad for him (their client). Not long after the appeal, an attorney who understood how a jury would see our client, and her husband, convinced the insurance company to abandon their statistics and the claim was settled for much more than the arbitration award.
Each claim depends on the individual. It is our job at Anderson Law to show the insurance company, or an arbitrator, judge, or jury, who our client is, and how the negligence of another has impacted them. Once we do, trivial amounts of money go out the door and the question becomes, “How much will it take to make this right?”