By — John Merrick —
Attorneys bluff. Mediators bluff. Insurance adjusters bluff.
By bluff, I do not mean “lie.” One should never misrepresent the facts or the law.
However, everyone has a job to do. Attorneys advocate for their clients. Mediators advocate for the deal. Insurance adjusters are trying to save their company money.
By bluff, I mean that in conversations among opposing attorneys, a mediator, and/or an opposing insurance adjuster, the players will tend to emphasize certain things and minimize others to cast a positive light on their position, even though they may feel differently. Common bluff zones are “opinions” on liability (fault), strength of damages, settlement value, potential jury verdict range.
As trial approaches, the time for bluffing comes to an end. This can lead to a settlement on the courthouse steps or even during trial. I don’t like it when that happens and, when it does, I believe it is usually because the insurance adjuster finally offers more money to avoid the risk of going to trial. Often, the defense attorney already suggested this amount months or weeks earlier.
Good lawyers, mediators and insurance carriers identify bluffs. The key is to call them out at the appropriate time, and in an appropriate manner. A good lawyer knows when and how to do it. The timing is different for every case and depends on multiple variables. To name a few: personalities of those involved, amount of available insurance coverage, unknown/uncertain facts, strength of witnesses, status of discovery, potential dispositive motions, evidentiary motions, experience of counsel, venue and judge. Sometimes you must go to trial to call the insurance company’s bluff.
What sets Merrick Brock apart from most other personal injury attorneys, is that we each handled cases for the defense / insurance carriers for over a decade. We’ve tried dozens of cases and mediated dozens more on the defense/insurance carrier side. Now we are in our 6th year of representing people who were injured by other people or businesses.
We’ve seen personal injury cases from all angles, and we have a solid track record of identifying bluffs and working hard to get the best results.
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