To most folks we represent, the biggest question is value – how much is their case worth? Well … that depends on a lot of different factors. Most of you have seen the ads on television or the internet promising quick checks. Why would anyone want it differently? Let's discuss this concept in the real world, not just as shown on a slick tv ad.
Reality #1 – Insurance companies earn interest on the money used to settle cases, so they don't want to pay it out any sooner than they have to. Reality #2 – Insurance companies know that an injured claimant is often in a tough spot as a result of their injury – the claimant is out of work and the bills are piling up. Logical conclusion – if the insurance company is paying out money quickly, it means that they believe that they are paying less than the real value of the case.
Reality #3 – If the claimant expects full value for everything that they are out (medical bills, lost wages, physical and emotional pain and suffering and permanent injury) the case will have to be tried. Why? Insurance companies have more money than the people suing them. They aren't going out of business if they lose. The insurance industry wants the general public to understand that the price to pay for full value is a trial.
So … with all that in mind, where does that leave you? If you need money now to stay out of bankruptcy, you need money now. Expect less than what you might get if you file suit and press for a trial. If you need money now because you have seen the ads telling you that it's what you have coming, step back and evaluate. What does your lawyer think about pushing forward? Is she willing to try the case if it does not settle? How does your lawyer see all of the factors that go into a settlement valuation?
In the next few posts, we will look at this further and discuss those different factors and strategies and realities for different types of cases.
Cum Laude graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Pet Mackey is a civil trial litigation expert who represents plaintiffs in business and consumer tort, contracts and construction, employment disputes and insurance. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Certified Alabama Mediator, and an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.