The Injury Defense Industry in New Jersey v. You – Part II
December 6, 2019
BY: Domhnall O'Cathain
In Part I, we explained the business of insurance companies and how they approach personal injury lawsuits. By the end of that article, you might have felt deflated about your chances of getting justice. Fear not! There are the strengths of your case that will give you the leverage you need.
You Chose the Right Lawyer
If you are looking to settle your case quickly and take whatever the insurance company offers, you will have no problem finding the right lawyer for your case. However, if you are catastrophically injured or lost a loved one, you are unlikely to settle out cheap. You want every penny your case deserves.
Unfortunately, some personal injury attorneys don’t have experience maximizing a client’s recovery. Surprisingly, many lawyers are afraid to ask for more than $1 million dollars for their clients! The insurance companies are not afraid of those lawyers.
The insurance companies are afraid of lawyers who try cases in front of juries. They are the lawyers who have turned down offers before and had the confidence to call the bluff of the insurance companies in front of a jury. That is who you want in your corner: a lawyer who makes big demands and knows how to follow through by trying the case.
You Have the Right to a Jury Trial
As your case goes through litigation, it is likely that the defense will make an offer at some time. If it is a reasonable offer, your attorney will probably recommend accepting the offer because you can’t predict what a jury might do at trial.
The same is true for the insurance company. If the insurance company low balls you with unreasonable offers, you can simply say no. Make it clear that you have no fear of a jury. The insurance company does not know what a jury will do and insurance companies hate unpredictability.
Also, as you get closer to trial, the value of the case will often increase. At that time, the insurance company will have different people to look at the case to re-evaluate it. Don’t be afraid to say no to unreasonable offers.
The Insurance Company Doesn’t Know You
The insurance company looks at your case. It does not look at you. What does that mean? To the eyes of the adjuster, you are a lot of body parts, some that might be injured and everything else that is not injured. The adjuster wants to know what body parts had treatment such as surgery.
The adjuster will then look at seeing if you lost any money from the injury, e.g. time away from work. The adjuster will then formulate the number that the insurance company is willing to pay.
You don’t see yourself that way. You shouldn’t see yourself that way. You are a human being who was injured and you don’t feel like the same person since the injury. If your case goes to trial, you will tell your story to a jury, real human beings who live in your community.
Primary & Excess Insurance
Often wrongful death and catastrophic injuries are caused by big businesses. Those trucks you see speeding down the New Jersey Turnpike are usually carrying policies of at least $1 million. Often, those trucks also carry excess insurance policies who will pay if the damages are higher than the limits of the primary policy.
Catastrophic injuries usually result in damages of over $1 million. If the primary insurance carrier doesn’t value the case that way, the excess carrier might be caught off guard when the case gets closer to trial. The excess insurance carrier is usually relying on the primary carrier to litigate the case.
For example, the primary carrier, who hired the defense lawyers, might mistakenly have valued the case during litigation as being lower than its policy of $1 million, setting the reserve at $600,000. However, a few weeks before trial, the case was re-evaluated by the primary carrier at higher than $1 million. The primary carrier tenders its $1 million, leaving it to the excess carrier to take care of the rest.
The excess carrier might feel cheated because it took a back seat based on the primary carrier’s earlier mistaken evaluation. If the excess carrier gets hit with a big verdict while unprepared, it might later sue the primary carrier! That is a nightmare for any adjuster in the injury defense industry in New Jersey.
By hiring a lawyer who understands the mindset of the defendants and their different insurance carriers, you automatically increase the value of cases with terrible injuries. Remember: you don’t have to settle for only primary coverage if there is excess coverage and the injuries are above the amount of the primary coverage.
It is important to understand that insurance companies are businesses that are motivated by profit. Each adjuster is motivated to pay less than the reserve. The less of the reserved paid, the greater the benefits to the adjuster.
However, when an adjuster makes a wrong call on a case, it can cost the insurance company hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. And the adjuster then needs to explain to the supervisor why he or she didn’t give the injuries a fair value.
Our skilled New Jersey personal injury attorneys will understand the motivations and fears of the insurance adjuster, which will allow you to get the justice your case deserves.