Motor Vehicle Accident Plaintiff Receives Low Ball Settlement Offer When Severe Injuries Minimized By Insurance Company

 By: J. Hernandez
In this article we talk about yet another lawsuit in which an insurer made only low ball offers to settle a motor vehicle lawsuit in which the plaintiff endured a severe injury, this time an injury that definitely affected the plaintiff's ability to work.

For example, look at a case in which a bicyclist was hurt. The driver in this claim was operating an SUV. Based on the bicyclist, the driver was coming in the opposite direction when, without warning, he made a U-turn right in front of him forcing the bicyclist to go over the SUV's hood. The plaintiff tore a cartilage in his wrist during the accident. This caused him difficulties at work where he was a mechanic for a high-end motor vehicle dealer. And a physician testified that the bicyclist's wrist will probably eventually need to be fused and that this will likely end his career as a mechanic. As a result the plaintiff would likely not be able to make as much money in the future leading to a loss of earning capacity.

This added the driver's employer as a defendant. The insurance company made 2 settlement offers in the lawsuit. The first offer was for $10,000. The second offer, which they made the week prior to trial, was for $30,000.

This amount represented $250,000 in economic damages (which would generally include medical expenses and loss of earning capacity). Additionally, it included $300,000 in non-economic damages (this is the pain and suffering caused by the injuries).

Here we have a case where liability was not an issue. What was in dispute was the value of the bicyclist's injuries. The insurer almost certainly perceived this claim as just involving a minor injury that solved itself fairly quickly. With this perspective an offer of $30,000 might appear reasonable.

The law firm that represented the victim, on the other hand, knew that it was not that simple. This injury was one that was not resolved but rather one which left the plaintiff with a weakened wrist - a wrist that in time would require significant surgery after which the wrist would never be the same again. The law restricted how much time the victim had to pursue a lawsuit so he could not wait until the wrist failed him as by then it would be too late. However the law did permit him to recover now for long term consequences of the injury. This is how the law firm positioned the lawsuit on behalf of the bicyclist and the jury agreed.
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