Last week I wrote about a car accident injury case we tried in the District Court of Maryland for Prince George’s County. We do not handle many district court cases anymore but we liked the client in this case. The crash was a rear-end collision with a soft-tissue injury. The damage to the vehicles was extremely minor, about $400.00. My client had $4800.00 in medical expenses. Today we called the court to find out what the verdict was. It was $10,500.00. That is a very good result for this kind of case, especially considering we only sued for $10,000.00 in the first place.
Even if a motion is filed to reduce the verdict to the ad damnum, we are happy with this result. So is our client. Again, plaintiff’s lawyers need to try these cases. By my math, $10,000 is a lot better than zero. We really do not make money in cases like this. We get a $4,000 fee. That is a lot of money in my pocket if you handed it to me personally. But from a business perspective? It is not worth the time and expense. But the hope is that when something awful happens to that client’s cousin’s brother’s friend, they call us.
GEICO’s Strategy in Low Property Damage Cases
The insurance carrier was GEICO. This was a “no offer” case. We just got a letter from GEICO saying they “were unable to understand the nature of the injuries claimed due to the minor damage to the vehicles involved.”
This is GEICO’s method of operation. They have made a global decision that in spite of overwhelming data that shows that what happens to the car does not correlate with the harm to the occupants, GEICO will not pay on these cases, at least not before a lawsuit if filed. It is a good time to point out that we have tried these cases a number of times with GEICO and never got anything resembling a zero verdict.
Listen, I think it is an awful strategy. But I get it. There are a ton of these cases that are garbage. We do a good job of screening out that garbage but have some non-meritorious low property damage cases slipped through the cracks at our firm? We don’t know who the fakers are but I’m sure there have been some over the years. GEICO, I think more than most companies, is collectively angry about these people.
But what they have done is assume that a minority of cases are all the cases. They do not do what we do, which is look at every single case and make an individual determination. They say that all the cases are all frivolous.
This “deny them all” policy is foolish as a matter of achieving justice. Is it foolish economically for GEICO? I don’t know. How many people just walk away because GEICO said no? How many victims have lawyers who are not up for the fight? GEICO probably has a few actuaries hanging around headquarters and they figured out this was the best economic play for them.