This episode addresses why you should take time to settle your case and why the insurance company wants you to settle early to me as an injury lawyer.
Good morning and welcome to Ask Andy. This is a daily podcast about personal injury practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m Andrew Neuwirth. I wanted to talk to you today about the fact that I am not a quick fix. So a lot of people, you know, rightfully believe that if they’re the victim in a car accident or slip and fall or something like that, that they’re entitled to get paid. And you know, that may or may not be true. But the critical point I want to discuss is the fact that the insurance company is not particularly interested in paying out money to make your life better. That’s not their job. Their job, in their view, is to collect premiums from their customers and to pay out as little as possible, because that’s how they make money. That’s profit to them. So like it or not, that’s how they approach the world. And how do you avoid paying out money or paying out claims you fight them and you challenge every part of a claim that’s being made? So what does that mean for you and for me? Well, as the injured person, even if the accident is totally somebody else’s fault and you have a broken leg? So no question what happened. Are they going to pay you today? No. Should they? Yeah, probably. But are they going to? No. So that’s where the I’m not a quick fix comes in because the fastest possible thing we could have happen is car accident.
Police report broken leg. Order your medical records. That takes 30 to 45 days, usually. So maybe within 60 days. We know that your broken leg was the result of a car accident and you’re not at fault. Ok, so that’s 60 days. That’s not super speedy and most people’s world, but that would be unbelievably speedy in my world. Now what happens in 60 days? Well, at 60 days, now that we have your records, we’d have to write a letter to the insurance company asking them to pay you. You know, whatever the value of your case is, let’s say it’s $100000. There’s a decent chance that the person who injured you or the homeowner, particularly or the sidewalk owner, doesn’t have $100000 policy. There’s maybe there’s 15000, so maybe they give you 15000. Do you want that 15000? You know, is that quick, good money useful to you? Well, I’m going to take a third of it as my fee. There may be some expenses. Are you going to want to take $10000 for your broken leg? Well, again. Do you want to settle the case 90 days down the road, maybe 100 days down the road, which would be lightning fast? You might say, sure, sure. That’s good, I’ll take ten grand for, you know, my broken leg. What happens if I, as your lawyer, tell you, look, you don’t want to do that because you don’t really know if your leg is better? Three months after it’s broken, bones will heal.
But you know, there’s rehab. There’s bills to pay from that, and your medical provider is going to want some of their bills paid back out of your settlement. And we just don’t know if you’re all better. You know, a lot of times, yeah, your leg bones may look good on an x ray, but it may not feel good. It may not feel like you know you’re back playing hoops again. So you know, that’s why usually we want to wait six months from a serious injury to know that you’re all better now. Maybe if you have a strained back or something like that or a more minor injury, that’s, you know, all better in four months, that’s a different kind of case. But, you know, in the broken leg example, like, I don’t know for me, I’d want 60, 70, 80 percent of full value of my case, but a lot of people want their cases resolved quickly, like we’re used to, you know, dealing with American Airlines back in the day before pandemic. You would pick up the phone or you go on the internet, make a flight reservation boom, all fixed. If you had a problem, customer service would be on the line pretty quickly. I can change your flight, sir, or you could do it on the internet boom. All these things get done really quickly these days, but what’s the holdup here in these cases? What’s the holdup? The holdup is the insurance company doesn’t want to pay you, and whether it’s written down or set so or not, they will do or make a lot of efforts to avoid paying you full value for your case.
So let’s say you’ve got your broken leg, you’ve got all your ducks in a row. We make a demand. I think the case is worth $100000. They offer you $15000. Ok, well, you got your fairly quick result. What are you going to do about it if you want to? Maybe you have your own car insurance that you can pursue, or maybe there’s another person responsible. Maybe there’s a homeowner, or maybe the City of Philadelphia is responsible. What are you going to do? Well, now you’ve gotten some quick money and now you want to go after someone who maybe has more insurance to make up the difference between 15000 and 100000. Ok, well, how does that play out? Are you going to get quick money from that? Again, the answer is no. And first of all, and sort of more importantly, you probably don’t want to take that 15000 first because you want that person to be involved in the lawsuit for the larger insurance policy. So you probably should not take that 15000 from the first car accident or from the first car. So there’s a lot going on, like strategically like you don’t want to be letting someone out who’s responsible if there’s more insurance somewhere else. So what does that do? Well, that slows things down.
And one thing as a lawyer is I know that the insurance company wants to give you a quick payout, sometimes just to get the thing behind them because, you know, they know that a lot of people are kind of living paycheck to paycheck most days. So, you know, there are people out there who will take $10000 settlements on a $100000 claim just because they want, they want the $7000 they’ll end up with. So that’s what the insurance company is banking on now. You know, people need the money, they need the money don’t really care that there’s $100000 down the road. There’s nothing they can do about it. They need the money now. But, you know, then there are people who have a little bit more ability to wait. And that’s kind of the critical thing here is do you have the ability to wait? Because if you have the ability to wait and you can wait a year or so or a year and a half, you’re going to get paid something pretty close to full value. But it’s that ability to wait that is hard first for people to understand and second for people to go through. And I’ll tell you that by the end of a personal injury case, most personal injury clients of mine are tired of the process. They’re tired of dealing with lawyers. They’re tired of having questions as they’re tired of trying to track their, you know, physical therapy appointments and all the doctors they’ve seen to get better and all the work they’ve done, you know, they’re tired.
People want the case to be over, but it’s the ability to wait for the case, to be over, to get the full value. That is the critical thing. And so then you know, the question for you and for you know me is the lawyer is the following are you the sort of person with the sort of injury that can afford to wait or has the ability to wait? You don’t want to wait on a little injury case on a tiny little injury like you want that case resolved faster than slower. But if you do have the proverbial broken leg from a car accident, that person can wait. Whether they, you know financially can wait is a different question. But that person should wait because they’re going to get full value for their case. It’s just going to take some time. But, you know, 60 or $70000 a year from now to me is better than $7000 tomorrow. So, you know, that’s why I’m always looking for serious injury cases with people who are willing or who understand that they have a serious case and they need to wait. Those are the best clients for me, and I think those are the people that the system and I do the best job for. It’s hard to do a great job for someone who’s got a sprained, you know, shoulder because they have to wait 60, 90, 180 days and their injury’s better.
And, you know, they felt like they should have gotten $10000, but you can only give them $3000. That person is not going to be as happy with me or the process. So look, those are some of the considerations that go into, you know, whether you’re going to be a great personal injury client, whether you’re going to have a great result, whether you’re going to be happy about the process and why things take time to develop and understand. So it all comes back to two things one can you wait? And two, the insurance company drives this process a lot of times, and they want to delay, delay, delay and in between my side of the fence with you saying, can we wait? And the insurance company is saying, I’m in no rush, there’s the court system saying, let’s move this thing along. So that’s part of the strategy and the analysis that, you know, I go through and my clients have to go through as well. That’s enough for today. This is ask Randy. This is not legal advice. This is a daily recitation of things I think about in my daily practice. This is sponsored by my law firm Neuwirth Law Office, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. You can reach us on Facebook through Facebook Messenger or by phone two one five two five nine three six eight seven. Thanks. Have a great day.