Unfortunately Pennsylvania requires only minimal insurance for automobile drivers. Despite the existence of minimal coverage requirements, it is amazing that insurance companies will still try to “minimize their exposure”. That means that they will offer less than the policy limits and hope that the injured person (the Plaintiff) will not want to go through with trial.
In a recent case, I encountered just such a situation. I had represented a lady who was injured while crossing the street. She was hit by another lady who claims that she never saw my client. Although my client had prior problems, her injuries from the collision that I represented her for made her problems worse and infringed on her quality of life.
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In that case, the Defendant had policy limits of $50,000.00. From the onset, the insurance carrier treated the case as trivial. However, my client and I both appreciated the quality of life changes that resulted from the collision. As such, we agreed that we would not accept less than the policy limits. The first offer was a fraction of the policy limits. A mediation was then offered. Although mediation is often a good method of resolving a case where the value is subject to legitimate disagreement, in this case it was not. We ascertained that the carrier would not offer the policy limits and we declined the offer for mediation.
The only option that remained was to list the case for trial, which we did. We then deposed our client’s medical expert in order to present videotape testimony at trial. The defense did the same with the insurance company’s doctor. Although examination and cross examination of these witnesses resulted in some points being made for each side, the defense witness did admit to injuries and there were some serious inconsistencies in the defense doctor’s testimony.
After the depositions, the initial offer was almost tripled. The offer was denied and we refused to reduce our demand for the policy limits. The day of jury selection (1 week before trial) there was another significant increase in the offer. It was again declined. Fortunately, we were not bluffing and were prepared to go to trial and accept the risk inherent in all trials that the jury verdict may not be what we were hoping for. It was not until the last business day before the scheduled trial that an offer for the policy limits was made which we were able to accept.
Each case has its own strengths and weaknesses. Not all cases are likely to result in a jury verdict that equals or exceeds the policy limits. However, we invite you to work with us and trust our experience in evaluating the value of your case and the proper settlement strategy.