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How Does Timing Affect What Insurance Companies Will Pay?

Timing can affect the settlement in all sorts of ways.

First, there’s the conventional wisdom among victims’ lawyers – that insurance companies will pay more to get lawsuits “off their books” at certain times of the month, the quarter, or the year. I heard more than one attorney tell me that the best time to settle a case was at 4:59 PM on New Year’s Eve.

It would make sense, but I can’t remember one instance to make me think it was true. And I have not only represented victims, but also insurance companies, for the entire time I have been a lawyer.

I think that insurance companies are more likely to settle a case when they think they have a loser. Or when they finally conclude that the case is going to a jury. Or when they think that, from their perspective, the case is about to get worse. Or even when they realize they will have to spend a lot defending the case.

Denial is a natural process for anyone, but especially for insurance adjusters. If you are an adjuster, and your company is responsible for settling a loss, you’re not going to jump up and volunteer money to the victims unless you’re sure both that your insured is at fault and that, if you don’t settle, you eventually will have to pay at least as much as the victim is asking for now.

Otherwise, maybe you get fired.

So, basically, a good victim’s lawyer is good at delivering bad news to insurance companies. How do I do this? There are different ways.

Sometimes, it’s effective just to write a good demand letter and send copies of the medical records.

If the insurance company is denying the accident was their fault, one way may be to produce a statement from a neutral witness who puts the blame squarely back on the insurance company’s insured. Or maybe hiring an architect as an expert who will document that the steps the victim fell on were uneven, and violated code – and who will take a picture showing how out of alignment they are.

If the issue is damages, a report from a treating doctor detailing the injury, its severity, its cost and its permanency may be effective. I have hired an economist (warning – they are expensive) to project the victim’s wage loss, and loss of employment benefits, until retirement age because of the accident.

If suit has been filed, sometimes the victim has to win a motion for summary judgment –meaning the judge rules that the case is definitely going to trial – before the insurance company will write a check. I settled one case for $500,000 after one of these.

And if the damages are severe – a loss of life, or even of the use of a limb – a video may be a powerful way of reminding the insurer that no matter how much they spend on lawyers, the truth will track them down. This is a great way of convincing the other side of the emotional strength of your case.

And most important, once you file suit, get a trial date as soon as the judge will give it to you. If anything will make an insurance company settle, it’s a jury.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Some cases won’t settle on fair terms until the insurance company knows it has no way out. If you have a personal injury case in Cincinnati, Ohio or if you want to know what your lawsuit is worth, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Injury Attorney about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.

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.

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