For Best Results: Recognize What the Defense is Thinking

Written by — John Merrick —-

We started Merrick Brock after working at an insurance defense firm for over 10 years. That experience sets us apart from other personal injury lawyers.

We use our unique experience to develop strategies for achieving the best results possible for our personal injury clients.

A few things I learned about case values and negotiating settlements on the defense are below. Every case is different, but normally, subject to some exceptions:

  • Insurance adjusters are generally great people who work hard. Be nice to them.
  • The adjuster ultimately decides whether and when to settle a case. Be nice to them.
  • Adjusters prefer to settle cases quickly. A key metric of their review is how long a case remains open.
  • For an adjuster, the best file is a closed file.
  • Adjusters manage risk. They focus on potential outcomes more than case details or nuances.
  • Adjusters are willing to settle for an amount that is (slightly) less than their worst realistic outcome. See above.
  • When settlement negotiations are close (within 15% of demand) an adjuster will normally close the gap to avoid the risk of trial and / or defense costs. See above.
  • Once a suit is filed and served, prepare to wait.
  • The adjuster will wait until the defense attorney writes an initial report (usually 90 days after service) before reevaluating the last offer.
  • The defense attorney normally recommends engaging in written discovery and taking the plaintiff’s deposition in order to make an informed settlement recommendation. Prepare to wait more.
  • The adjuster tends to offer the amount recommended by defense counsel (eventually). The recommendation may change during discovery, but rarely goes down.
  • The defense attorney’s last report, a pre-trial report, is normally due 45 – 60 days before trial.  That report contains the attorney’s final verdict/settlement analysis (unless there are “unknowns” that will take additional discovery or rulings by the court).
  • The key factors in a defense attorney’s settlement analysis are:

(1) The amount of the medical bills and lost wages that will be related to the injury caused by the defendant;

(2) The impression made by plaintiff and key witnesses;

(3) The impression made by plaintiff’s experts;

(4) The experience and trial skill of plaintiff’s counsel;

(5) Venue (past verdicts in same or similar location);

(6) The likelihood of defense verdict; and

(7) Potential verdict range.

If you would like some feedback on your personal injury claim, call accident lawyer John Merrick at 804-464-7719.

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