Insurance adjusters are trained how to settle claims. They always try to settle as low as possible. But sometimes, even in cases where they know they will have to pay a claim, they worry most about claims that include any of these factors which I call “Bell Ringers”:
1. Claims involving despicable behavior such as drunk driving, lewd and lascivious behavior, especially involving kids, repeated misconduct, torture, or gross and reckless indifference.
2. Claims causing death, or surgery which has already been performed, legitimate use of pain killers, lengthy hospitalizations, brain damages including, loss of sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell, severe burns, scarring and disfigurement, amputations, and paralysis. This is a short list but will help you understand what types of losses I am talking about.
3. Claims resulting in the permanent loss of a high paying good job or loss of a career.
We are getting ready for a mediation (confidential settlement conference) for one of my clients. She was a 40 year old married woman in the front seat passenger in a car. It was broadsided, and she got hurt, went by ambulance to the ER and was released without having to have surgery, stitches or be hospitalized. She has low back pain due to herniations and gets lumbar injections for the back pain three times a year. She is not a surgical candidate and is not now or ever been one, does not take pain killers and cannot show any loss of income due to the accident. She owns her own business and is still working.
What is her case worth? Since none of the “Bell ringers” are present her claim is not one which has a lot of high end worry for the insurance adjuster. The range is somewhere a little north of her total medical bills.
Being honest with her about the settlement value of her case has caused me some concerns. At mediation she may have such high and unreasonable expectations that she will blow the chance for a reasonable settlement, and force a trial. The message here is to get an attorney who has experience in recognizing the “Bell Ringers” so you can get a proper size settlement.