IS LITIGATION RIGHT FOR YOU?
by Matthew Paul Krupnick
While for most attorneys and people interested in attorneys, they always want the best litigator, the truth is, litigation is not for everyone. Especially in this day and age; you need to be ready to pay your dues and do “battle" with some of the biggest companies in the world (namely, insurance companies). Most litigators, especially new ones, have no idea just how hard insurance companies fight every single case. So if you are not ready to fight, fight hard, and fight to the end for your clients, maybe litigation is not for you. If you are ready to fight and to step into the ring with these heavyweights, then you need to make sure you have the experience, skills, courage, and support to stand up to the big bad insurance companies or any other opponent.
Let’s take Mercury for example. Any experienced litigator knows that trying to settle a case where the insured (person who has the insurance) has Mercury, is like trying to settle a case with a robot that has no way to use logic or reason. You have to have what it takes to beat a company like Mercury, even if it means going to trial. New attorneys are often not equipped with the skills necessary to take on a company like Mercury (who has millions of dollars at its disposal). However, if you have the skills, and are willing to go the distance, even new attorneys can take a company like Mercury to task. And if you can, YOU SHOULD. For example, if you have a “soft tissue" injury case with $10,000.00 in medical bills for your client, and the Defendant has a $15,000.00 Mercury insurance policy, don’t be surprised if you get an offer of $2,000.00 after sending your initial demand. Obviously, with an offer like that, you cannot settle the case and pay off the doctors’ bills, take your attorneys fees and costs, and have any money left over for the client. So you have to try your best to negotiate a fair settlement (in this example, all things being typical as far as cases go, a “fair" settlement is more like in the $8,000 to $12,000 range depending on the facts of the case. If you can’t get a reasonable adjuster (and yes that is a bit of an oxymoron), you then have to file the lawsuit. At that point, there are many tricks, tactics and strategies to push and fight for a good settlement or to tea the case up for a home run at trial.
Those actions consist of a list that is far too long to include in this blog. But having personally dealt with thousands of these cases, I am happy to share my thoughts and opinions for those who would like to know them. Message me or call our office to contact our firm to get free, solid advice on how to handle these cases. Or, prepare the case to go to trial. Be aware of things like Code of Civil Procedure Section 998 and other ways to help build your smaller case into a bigger settlement.
But the bottom line is this: if you are going to be a litigator, get ready to fight. Expect the unexpected; expect the worst. Don’t be surprised when the other side spends $50,000 to $100,000 in costs and fees to avoid paying your client $15,000.00. Remember, you are not dealing with rational humans. Insurance companies actually use computer programs to help give them the number that they stand by as the “fair value" of the case. It sounds silly, but it’s true!
These battles are absolutely winnable, even if they are small victories. Sometimes you have to win a few of these smaller cases before you make a name for yourself as a litigator that will not roll over and that will fight your client’s case as far as necessary to get a fair and reasonable settlement.
That’s the two cents of the day. For more info, please do not hesitate to contact me for free advice. Otherwise, stay tuned for more blogs and more info to help all litigators get the most out of every case. Until then, keep up the good fight and do not ever let an insurance company or big, bad defense firm bully you into taking a settlement that is clearly far below the fair value of your case.