Why the way to maximize the value of serious personal injury cases almost invariably requires a lawsuit
More Case Value Information
Most personal injury cases settle before filing a lawsuit. That's the good news for plaintiffs trying to settle their case without having to go through the hassles of pre-trial discovery and a trial itself.
But if you (1) have a serious injury personal injury case, and (2) want to maximize the value of that case, it is nearly impossible to get full value for your case without at least filing a lawsuit.
It is easy to blame this fact on ridiculous insurance companies. After all, it is true. But the real answer is far more complicated.
Only Vehicle Accident Cases Have a Legitimate Chance for a Pre-Suit Fair Settlement
If you have a medical malpractice, nursing home premise liability, product liability, or another tort claim other than a car or truck accident, you are going to have a very hard time resolving this case before filing suit. That is, if you want to get as much money for your claim as you can. Because liability is often in dispute in these cases - particularly in Maryland because of contributory negligence - insurance companies want time to conduct discovery to learn more about whether they are responsible and what the injuries are. This is true even when they suspect they are responsible for the plaintiff's injuries. The only real exception to this rule is when the facts are so egregious - operating on the wrong body part, for example - that it makes sense to resolve the case to avoid having to defend the case and the possibility of adverse publicity (or if the defendant is pushing the insurance company to settle the case).
Even Serious Car and Truck Accident Injuries are Hard to Settle Before a Lawsuit
The X factor in most personal injury cases is the calculation of pain and suffering damages. Reasonable people invariably have different views on what constitutes fair for human agony. As a result of this, both plaintiffs and insurance companies have a tendency to construe pre-lawsuit facts most favorably to themselves. Plaintiffs think their case is worth the moon and the stars; insurance companies find the pain of victims to be relatively insignificant. Plaintiffs have their friends and family in their ear telling them that their case is worth millions, and insurance companies are talking to each other about how plaintiffs are constantly making a mountain out of an ant hill. Plaintiff's lawyers - like us, frankly - sometimes contribute to this because we see our cases through rose colored glasses at the beginning, before the hard questions get asked. This leads to a large lacuna between the parties that is very hard to bridge without a lawsuit. As discovery progresses, everyone gets more honest about their relative strengths and weaknesses, including the lawyers.
Does the Filing of a Lawsuit Alone Increase the Offer?
With motor vehicle accidents, you have a little better shot of getting the case settled before filing a lawsuit. Why? One reason is pure volume: car insurance companies have so many cases, so they are likely to be slightly more inclined to make a reasonable offer on the front end. Many insurance companies (GEICO, Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, for example) are far more likely to substantially increase their offers after the mere filing of a lawsuit, before they have to do any heavy lifting. Other insurance companies (Allstate and State Farm) are less likely to substantially increase their offer by the mere filing of a lawsuit.
Plaintiffs' Lawyers Make the Problem Worse in Both Directions
There are two kinds of plaintiffs' lawyers that make a plaintiff's decision as to whether to settle their case before filing suit more difficult. One kind of personal injury lawyer does not want to do the work - and spend the money - that comes with pushing a case into litigation. So they tell their client to settle without much regard to whether that is likely to get the client the best outcome.
Then you have the less frequent, but equally serious problem, of a plaintiffs' lawyer who is willing to risk a good settlement for the client by pushing a trial because they want to break the bank. The math is different for plaintiffs' lawyers than it is for their clients. It is easier to lose a case when you have lots of cases. Our lawyers always keep in mind the client's risk assessment on the case - not ours.
What If You Want to Settle Your Case Before Filing a Lawsuit
If the insurance company is willing to make an offer, you have every right to accept. It is your decision to settle or not settle your personal injury case. Your lawyer's job is to give you the right information to help you make the best call for you and your family.
None of our lawyers have ever seen an insurance company take an offer off the table simply because the plaintiff made a counteroffer. So there is very minimal risk in agreeing to make a counteroffer to try to get more money, even if you have already decided to settle your case. That said, if you really have no interest in considering an offer in the range in which the defendant is considering, you may want to resist making a counteroffer. If the defendant offers $100,000 pre-suit, they are not going to raise their offer to $750,000... at least not without a lawsuit.
Talking to a Lawyer About Your Claim
Our lawyers handle one kind of claim: personal injury claims and only on behalf of injury victims. If you have been injured by a defective product, medical malpractice, or a truck accident, car accident, or motorcycle accident, call to speak to one of our malpractice or accident attorneys at 800-553-8082, or select here for a free no obligation consultation.