On Saturday, I settled Mary's car crash case against Allstate. We were scheduled to go to trial yesterday. Mary was injured in a 2017 car crash. The offer was $21,000 until about 4:30 on Friday afternoon when Allstate capitulated and paid the $100,000 policy limits.
And yes, I work on Saturdays.
This often happens in my practice. The client and I decide the value of the case and then we keep going until the other side realizes the wisdom of our position. Often, the only power an injured person has is a trial against the wrongdoer's insurance company.
We took the medical doctor's depositions by video tape and filed our full pretrial with the court. We argued the motions on Friday and were ready to go. The courthouse closed because of a winter storm and the judge kept the Motion hearing on schedule by doing them from his home on a conference call.
After winning the key motions and insisting on the accurate value of the case we got what Mary deserved.
In the second case, my great coworker Genavieve obtained a $90,000 settlement in a car accident case for her client Jamal where there was only $4,500.00 in medical billing charges. Sometimes, the low cost of medical bills does not reflect the severity of our client’s injuries.
Here, Jamal suffered a small labral tear in his right shoulder in a crash that happened like this:
He treated conservatively with physical therapy and injections. An orthopedic surgeon opined that an arthroscopic surgery would not be unreasonable for him to consider if he continued to have persistent pain and weakness.
However, the surgeon informed Jamal that the recovery process after such a surgery could take up to a year. Jamal works in a job that requires him to use his arm and shoulder. He already missed five weeks of work. Jamal ultimately decided to forego having the surgery, but he might go forward with it in the future.
In a situation like this, where a client has a serious injury but low medical bills, it is extremely important to add value to the case by highlighting other factors.
Here, Genavieve emphasized that this was a high speed collision on the highway, Jamal’s car was totaled, and objective evidence showed a labral tear.
In addition to the $4,500 in medical charges and $4,800 in lost wages already incurred by Jamal, Genavieve estimated the cost of a future arthroscopic labral repair ($27,171.00), anesthesia ($5,424.00), post-surgical physical therapy ($15,572.43), and future lost wages ($4,000 - $20,000). Suddenly, Jamal’s economic damages increased from $9k to ~$60k-$80k.
The policy limits in the case were $100,000. Genavieve sent a bad faith letter pursuant to RSMo. § 573.058, demanding the $100,000 limits.
Insurance companies are often hesitant to consider future medical or future lost wages, claiming they are speculative. But if they don’t consider them, and a jury does, they run the risk of getting an excess judgment at trial.
Likewise, Jamal ran the risk of going to trial with only $9,000.00 in actual damages, being cross-examined about why he had not had the surgery, and a jury disregarding the future medical and future lost wages.
As we approached trial, the insurance company offered $90,000 which we happily accepted.