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Do Insurance Companies Value Cases Differently Than You Do?

Yes. But it is hard to predict.

When I evaluate a lawsuit, my main concern is evaluating what I think a jury will pay my client, after a trial. I do this because it is the most honest way to evaluate a lawsuit. If I promise my client more than a jury will award him, I am running a dangerous bluff.

The danger is that the other side will call my bluff, and make me waste my client’s money and my time trying to get more.

But there is more to being a good lawyer than that. I also have to imagine how the insurance company on the other side is looking at it – what they are afraid of, and how much it will cost them to go to trial. And what the cost will be, besides just the verdict.

For instance, a few years ago I represented a client who had been tasered by a deputy in a jail. (She was being held on charges that were later dismissed.)

She had $700 in medical bills. She saw a doctor once, and was fine within a month. No scarring, no permanent injury. If she had had treatment like that following an auto accident, the lawsuit might be worth between $2,000 and $5,000.00.

Except she was tased. By a deputy. While being restrained by three other deputies. For refusing to unbraid her hair.

To be honest, I have had many other clients who would have “sold” better to a jury. But the Sheriff was obviously worried a jury would be horrified by this behavior. And award a very large amount – probably including punitive damages. And that there would be stories in the news.

I won’t tell you what the lawsuit settled for – but the amount was a lot more than I would have been willing to recommend to my client if it was a question of accepting the offer or trying the lawsuit.

Some version of this happens in every lawsuit. The defendant is usually willing to pay more than the lawsuit is worth to get rid of it.

Why? Because they are worried about a large verdict. Because of attorney fees. Because they are worried about being sued by their own insured if the jury awards more than their policy limits. Because they just want to get it off their books, so they can stop paying adjusters to look at the file every month.

Some insurance companies refused to be intimidated. They say to me “Actually, you should discount the lawsuit to settle it, so you won’t have to waste money on court costs, or spend a year waiting for trial, or risk the jury coming back lower than our offer.” And they stick to it, and they will make me go to trial if I want too much.

Which is fine. I won’t recommend my client take less than I think a jury will award, after figuring in the time and cost it takes to get to trial.

But if you want the best settlement you can get, your lawyer has to understand how the other side thinks, and what they are worried about.

Do you want to know how the insurance company looks at your lawsuit? Call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney, at 513-621-4775.

I have been suing insurance companies for over 30 years. For the same amount of time, I also represented them. You would be amazed at the things they think, and what makes them change their mind.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

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