Will I Have to Go to Court?
Roughly 80-90 percent of our cases are resolved through direct negotiation with the insurance company and without resort to the court system. Our firm is able to successfully resolve the vast majority of our cases through negotiation for several reasons. First, insurance companies know our reputation for being willing to fight for our clients in court if an insurer is being unreasonable. Moreover, they know that when we do take a case to court, we have an excellent track record of success. The combination of our being willing to fight it out in court and our lengthy history of winning court battles can and usually does persuade insurance companies that it is in their interest to be reasonable and settle out of court.
Second, we do our homework. A case is much more likely to settle if the insurance company knows you are prepared. The ability to persuade requires thorough preparation and a detailed analysis of not only the strengths of the case, but also the weaknesses. In many cases, being prepared to address and respond to weaknesses and/or problems in the case is more important that being able to make a persuasive presentation of the helpful evidence. This point can be illustrated by a case we recently took over from another attorney who had been trying unsuccessfully to resolve the case for over three years. The client eventually got fed up with the delay, not having calls returned in a timely way, and feeling like the case was not moving in the right direction, so she gave us a call. When we received the file, it was apparent that the other attorney's failure to address the principal argument that the insurance company had raised--the key weakness in the case--caused the delay in getting the case resolved. The insurance company had identified in the client's medical records a pre-existing back condition that caused the client to seek medical treatment sporadically over the prior five years. Unfortunately for the client, the medical records did not specify where, specifically, the pre-existing back pain was located and provided very little in the way of an explanation for what was causing the occasional flare up of pain. The insurance company had dug in its heels, taking the position that the pain the client claimed she was experiencing in her back was the same pain she experienced before the accident. The client's former attorney did not do anything to address this problem, other than to simply argue that the pain the client experienced before the accident was in a different area of the back and different in severity. Because the insurance company did not see anything in the medical records to support this argument, it refused to compensate the client for ongoing back pain. We immediately set up a conference with the client's treating doctor to discuss the medical records. Through our meeting with the doctor, he was able to clarify that the injury from the accident and resulting ongoing back pain were, in fact, in a different area of the client's spine and caused by completely different underlying problems. The statement we obtained from the doctor ultimately resulted in the case being resolved within two months of our taking over the case for an amount considerably higher than the insurance company offered when the case was being handled by the other attorney.
Third and finally, all of our attorneys have been trained in negotiation strategy and tactics and have thousands of hours of combined experience in high stakes settlement discussions. While top notch preparation is critical to successful negotiation, the ability to persuasively marshall evidence is equally important to obtaining the best possible result. Simply put, all the ammunition in the world does not win a battle if you don't know how to shoot a gun.
In sum, in the vast majority of cases we handle, our reputation, preparation, and experience helps to keep our clients out of court. On the rare occasion when, despite our best efforts to informally resolve a case, the insurance company for the defendant refuses to be reasonable, we are willing and able to fight for our clients in court to obtain a fair resolution to the cases.