The question about whether a personal injury case will end up in a lawsuit is one that many of my clients have at the beginning. Most of my clients have never been involved in an accident before and are nervous about the process. Due to all of the misleading lawyer advertising, some believe that all they have to do is to hire a lawyer, sit back and get a big check. The reality is that although most cases do not result in the filing of a lawsuit, it is a possibility in every case and every client needs to work on their case as if it will happen. However, it has been my experience after handling hundreds or thousands of cases in St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area, that some types of cases are more likely to result in the filing of a lawsuit.
Severe Injury Cases:
If you have been involved in a serious accident, have had serious injuries and there’s a lot of insurance available, it is almost certain that you are going to be forced into the filing of a lawsuit. When I say serious injuries, I am referencing surgery specifically. When I reference a lot of insurance, I mean at least 100k, but most of the time, a policy of 250k or above. The reason these types of cases result in lawsuits is that insurance companies have concluded that before they pay out big money on a case, they want to make sure there are not any defenses that are available to them. They have done the math that paying for a lawyer to defend the claim will cause them to pay out less big settlements over the long run. Thus, they have determined it is cheaper to offer much less than a case is worth at the pre-suit phase and force the person into filing a lawsuit.
While this strategy may not make sense at first blush, it actually is founded on some common sense principles. In the pre-suit phase, the plaintiff and the personal injury lawyer control what materials are sent to the insurance adjuster. While the adjuster may request additional records, there is nothing to require those records to be turned over. During the pre-suit phase, the insurance adjuster normally does not have the opportunity to interview the client to find out the extent of the injuries and how the case has affected his or her life. Most importantly, during pre-suit, there is no way for the insurance company to verify whether the injury that caused the surgery was there before the accident. In my opinion, this is the main reason why insurance companies are so hesitant to pay out large settlements. The insurance company wants to make sure that the injury that resulted in the surgery was from the accident and only the accident. In order to find out this information, they will force a case into a lawsuit and have their team of lawyers probe every aspect of your medical history to find a pre-existing injury. If they find the pre-existing injury, that will give them the excuse or defense they need to avoid having to pay as much on the claim. The analysis is simple. It is purely a mathematical formula and strategy to save money.
Cases with Disputed Liability:
In my experience as a personal injury attorney, I have found that the other area of cases that most frequently result in a lawsuit are those when liability is not clear. Liability is the apportionment of fault following any type of accident. For example, in a slip and fall case, the defense will always blame the person who fell for not being more careful. But, in auto accident cases, the fault is normally more clear. In a rear-end car accident case, it is often easy to determine that the person who hit you from behind was at fault. But, an auto accident involving traffic lights or stop signs are not always as easy to prove fault unless there is a witness. Remember that even if someone else was ticketed for causing an accident, the insurance company does its own investigation before it determines fault. In other words, an insurance company is not bound to follow the conclusion that a police officer reached. In traffic light intersections and stop sign accident cases even though you may know for a fact that the other driver blew the stop sign or red light, unless the other driver admits it or there’s a witness, there may be an issue with fault. And, in these types of cases with disputed liability, many end up in a lawsuit. The insurance company will make you prove to them that their insured driver was at fault before they will pay out money even though you know you are in the right.
Many of my clients do not like to file lawsuits and have been convinced that suing someone is wrong. I was taught the same thing before I became a lawyer. But, the reality of the personal injury system is that insurance companies are counting on you not wanting to file a lawsuit. They are measuring that if they make the case difficult for you, they can pay out less money. I always caution my clients that unlike any other type of case, personal injury lawsuits do not take money out of people’s pockets. Personal injury lawsuits go after insurance money and the person who is sued does not even have to pay for a lawyer. Many personal injury lawsuits are not hostile, they are simply straight forward questions about the accident and the medical treatment. If you have been involved in any type of personal injury accident with injuries and are considering what to do next, this article will hopefully help you with your decision.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, then you should take the proper measures to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact St Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas today and speak with an attorney. For over 60 years our firm has been successfully helping people who have been injured due to someone else’s carelessness. We have been nationally ranked for decades by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 law firm, which is the highest ranking that can be received. Sean McQuaid and Jonathon Douglas have dedicated their careers to continuing the firms legacy of superior legal representation.
Remember that we never charge a fee, unless we win. Call us today at 727-381-2300 so that we may answer your questions, help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims, and recover the compensation that you deserve.
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Sean McQuaid and Jonathon Douglas were voted best personal injury attorneys in Saint Petersburg, Florida for 2019.