By Dale Gribow

I focus a large amount of my practice on collecting compensation for accident victims. Today it is more difficult to deal with the ‘deny & delay’ claims strategies of insurance companies. For this reason, and those expressed herein, many CV lawyers are reluctant to accept whiplash claims.

When I first started practicing Personal Injury, I would send the medical bills and the insurance company would offer 3-4 times the medicals as a settlement. Those days are gone.

Now we see $9000 in medicals and the insurance company will offer $5000. That is not enough to pay the doctors and legal fees, and clearly there would be no money for the client. For example, a case that would formerly result in a jury verdict or settlement of $15,000 would today only draw an offer or verdict of $5,000-$7,500.

On July 22, 2016 a Monterey CC resident presented what would have been a great case, TWO MONTHS AGO…when it happened. To her credit she had Blue Cross and went to Eisenhower, but did not have any follow up medical treatment. She also talked to the adjuster.

No matter what we argued to the insurance company or jury I know that it would be a challenge to convince them that today’s complaints were clearly from that old accident. They would ask “Mr. Gribow, how do we know that she did not recently slip while at the pool or fall playing tennis?”

Most potential clients focus on the injury and not on harmful factors like: admitting liability at the scene, no immediate medical treatment, who is at fault, prior accidents, no insurance, not contacting a lawyer right away, social media that shows you playing sports for months while complaining of your injury and talking to the adjuster. It is not what the client told the insurance company but what the adjuster THOUGHT s/he heard.

We will never know the harmful things the client told the adjuster. The worst thing that can happen is learning of admissions to the adjuster in the middle of trial. The adjuster could testify as to what the client said right after the accident and BEFORE the client hired a lawyer. The implication is that the client only filed and sought medical advice because of his lawyer.

Recently the Howell Case decreased the value of these whiplash cases. Today if the med bill is $100,000 and the health insurance pays $90,000 and your obligation is $10k, you can only present the $10,000 to the jury. The amount of damage to the victim is now what the victim paid out of pocket.

Small cases are now worth a fraction of what they would have garnered 10 years ago. For the reasons expressed herein, most experienced desert lawyers specializing in accident cases are reluctant to accept whiplash cases.
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or dale@dalegribowlaw.

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