A while ago I received a call from an attorney in a city about 80 miles from our office. He said he represented a woman who seriously injured her foot in a motor vehicle accident. She needed surgery, lost a lot of time from work, had extensive medical bills and would always have a problem with her foot in the future. Also, the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault. “Then what’s the problem I asked.” The insurance company’s top offer is $85,000, and I think the case may be worth over $100,000 will you be willing to talk to this woman?” I said I would.
I met with her and learned the details about her case. I agreed that $85,000 was not a fair settlement offer for what she had been through and I agreed to take the case.
The insurance company told the other lawyer colleague that they wouldn’t pay more than $85,000 so I didn’t call to negotiate. I started the law suit by filing a complaint in court and sending a copy to the insurance company.
The next day I got a call from the insurance company’s lawyer asking whether I would be willing to mediate the case. Mediation is more or less a settlement negotiation with a neutral third party present, called a mediator. I said sure. A month later we mediated the case and the insurance company agreed to pay $240,000.
After the mediation I asked the insurance company’s lawyer, who I knew from other cases, “how come a month ago you would only pay the other attorney $85,000 to settle and today you were willing to pay me $240,000?” “Because I knew you were willing to try the case and that you knew what you were doing. And that’s what I told the insurance company.”
The moral of the story is that the lawyer you hire must have a successful track record in the courtroom with jury trials. The insurance companies will know if your lawyer is experienced in the courtroom or not.