In 1492 Columbus Discovered the Oceans Blue. On this anniversary of that memorable date, YOU CAN DISCOVER why a lawyer rejected your auto accident case by reading this column.
The practice of law allows an attorney to make money by resolving a client’s accident related issues…on a contingency. So why would a lawyer accept a case when s/he initially see problems….such as no medical treatment or a client lying?
My practice successfully collects money for Accident victims. However in 2018 we are dealing with the new deny & delay insurance company claims strategy. Thus many CV lawyers are reluctant to accept minor soft tissue/whiplash claims.
When I started practicing the accident medical bills were sent to the insurance company. They would then offer 3-4 times the medicals. Those days are gone.
Today $9,000 in medicals often results in a paltry $5,000 offer. Unfortunately this is not enough to pay the doctors and legal fees, and clearly there would be no money for the client. Now a $9,000 med bill, that previously resulted in a jury verdict/ settlement of $27,000, would today result in an offer or verdict of $5,000-$9,000.
Thus the attorney has to find a way to generate money for the client. This often involves begging the doctors to cut their bills. Many lawyers feel it is not worthwhile arguing with doctors to cut bills, in addition to arguing with insurance companies and or defense lawyers to put money on the case. Meanwhile, the client is unable to understand why their case is not worth more money.
Recently a Palm Desert resident presented what would have been a great case, TWO MONTHS EARLIER…when it happened. To her credit she had Blue Cross and went to Eisenhower ONCE, but did not have any follow up medical treatment. She also talked to the adjuster.
If I accepted this 2 month old case and the client now started medical treatment, I know it will be a problem. No matter what we argued to the insurance company or jury, I know that it would be a challenge to convince them that late treatment was really accident related. They would ask “Mr. Gribow, how do we know that she did not recently slip and fall at the pool/shower or fall playing tennis and she is now trying to collect on this old case?”
Most clients focus on the injury and not on any of the following harmful factors that can cause me to reject a case: 1) admitting liability, 2) no immediate medical treatment, 3) questionable liability, 4) low property damage, 5) prior accidents, 6) no insurance, 7) delay in calling a lawyer, 8) social media showing you playing sports, while complaining of injuries and 9) client talking to the adjuster. It is not what the client told the adjuster but what the adjuster THOUGHT s/he heard.
We will never know the harmful things the client told the adjuster. The kiss of death is learning of admissions to the adjuster, during trial. Adjusters can testify to what the client said, right after the accident, and BEFORE hiring a lawyer. The implication is that the client only filed and sought medical advice because of his/her lawyer.
A recent case decreased the value of whiplash cases. Today if the med bill is $100,000 and health insurance pays $90,000 and your obligation is $10,000 you can only present the $10,000, out of pocket costs, to the jury. Damages are now the victims out of pocket costs.
Small cases are now worth a fraction of what they would have garnered 10 years ago. Thus most experienced desert PI lawyers are reluctant to accept small whiplash cases.
Questions or ideas for future columns contact Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or email@example.com.
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