I recently finished a jury trial in a very tough uninsured motorist case. This was a case involving a woman who was struck while crossing a parking lot. What made this particular case so difficult was my client’s history.
This unfortunate lady was involved in two other accidents the same month, luckily after the accident I was handling. Additionally, she had no less than five prior injuries to the same body part, one of which resulted in a 20% permanent partial disability. Her damages in my case included a torn lumbar disc documented by discography and corrective surgery.
This case was against State Farm, an insurer known for its hardball tactics and low settlement offers. In fact, the American Association for Justice recently named State Farm the 4th worst insurer for consumers. The last settlement offer we received was $7,000.00, which we viewed as very low in light of the client’s injuries.
State Farm is unusual because in UM cases, once they establish what they think the case is worth, they send the claimant a check for that amount. This is regardless of what recovery is eventually made. Namely, if the client had gotten nothing, she wouldn’t have had to pay it back. This is an admirable principle, but it would be more effective if the values placed on these matters were in the range of the actual value at trial.
In defending this case, State Farm followed its established “deny, delay, diminish” playbook. First, the insurer argued the accident was really the client’s fault anyway, despite the uninsured driver being ticketed, failing to appear in traffic court, and failing to appear for our trial. Second, they argued that her injury and surgery weren’t related to the accident and that she only sustained a minor soft tissue injury. To that end, they hand-picked a doctor to create a five-page report saying so.
Thankfully, the jury could see past these tactics and ultimately awarded my client $60,000.00. This is even though this case was in Anne Arundel County, which most injury lawyers view as a very conservative jurisdiction.