Woodland Hills personal injury and car accident attorney Barry P. Goldberg is asked this question all the time. The answer may surprise you: “Don’t be afraid to file a lawsuit, if necessary!” The insurers know which lawyers will file suit and which lawyers will actually fight for their clients. It should be no surprise that lawyers that are willing to do their jobs actually get better settlements. Of course, there is more to this analysis.
Most Client’s do not want to file a Lawsuit.
It should not surprise anyone that most clients do not want to file lawsuits. In fact, my clients from the West San Fernando Valley even go further. Most of my clients tell me that they just want “fair compensation.” They often add that they do not want any “wind fall” and that they do not want the adverse driver to suffer or get in any trouble. (BTW, that’s why I love my clients!)
Unfortunately, the insurance companies have conducted elaborate studies and are completely aware of consumer attitudes towards recoveries and lawsuits. Rather than reward the good nature of most accident victims, the insurers actually use this information to their advantage! The insurers know that most accident victims will never authorize the filing of a lawsuit. So, the car accident settlements have been getting lower and lower. Nice!
The Insurers now that Most Personal Injury Lawyers will not file a Lawsuit in a Car Accident case!
This fact angers and frustrates me! The insurers know that most personal injury lawyers have figured out that the economic model of having the average car accident case in litigation does not work. The costs go way up and the cases take a lot longer. Many personal injury lawyers will “fold, rather than fight.” They will recommend that their clients take the last insurance company offer no matter what that offer is and no matter what the client eventually nets. While not really practicing law, this can be a very profitable economic model—– for the lawyer!
Filing a Lawsuit may be the Only Leverage to Obtain a Fair Settlement.
When lawyers threaten insurers that they will file a lawsuit, the well-trained insurance adjusters say something like “Go ahead. It will be off my desk and sent to our in house legal department. It will cost you and not us.” I believe this is a bluff! The adjusters get questioned by supervisors about why they could not resolve a simple case without engaging the already overworked legal department. Adjusters do not want you to file a lawsuit!
Filing a Lawsuit can create better Settlements in the Right Case.
It is true. Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming. I avoid them whenever possible. However, if you have a good case and are being “low balled,” the lawsuit is a fantastic tool. Recently, I was told that a certain settlement offer was the top dollar that would ever be offered—even if there was a lawsuit, a trial and an appeal. I did not believe them. I filed and served a lawsuit. I received a call from the new “litigation adjuster.” She offered a full 40% more if it would settle the case before the insurer’s lawyers got involved!
This happened almost again less than a month later with a different insurer. They paid about 35% more than the “final offer.” Now, I cannot guarantee or predict that this will happen in every case. But, if the “fair” value of the case supports an accident victim’s claim in the range of 30-40% more than the final offer, a lawsuit might be just the right tool to get your case settled. When choosing a personal injury lawyer for a car accident case, it is wise to ask whether that lawyer is willing to file a lawsuit if necessary.
You can be assured that: The insurers know which lawyers will file suit and which lawyers will actually fight for their clients. It should be no surprise that lawyers that are willing to do their jobs actually get better settlements.