Sometimes, timing is everything. Right now is the last few weeks that we can get cases settled with the insurance companies before the year closes out. The companies want to close their books on cases that can be closed and the claim reps are under pressure to get their case load down and resolve those cases that they can resolve. I usually prepare for this time by sending in a lot of demand letters in October and they are supposed to bear fruit at this time of year. This year seems to be holding to form and claim reps are randomly calling me looking to settle cases that will have to settle at some point.
As always in personal injury law, there is nothing like a lawsuit to motivate action on a case. My policy is to always put my strongest cases into suit as soon as possible. There is no reason to negotiate presuit on a case that has strong liability and damages. Why take short money and waste time on a case that will get the client a nice strong settlement. There is no good reason for that.
The flip side is that cases that either have liability problems or damages are not substantial should be settled presuit. This is not rocket science.
Then, there are the cases where the claim rep’s decision making presuit is simply wrong and misguided or ridiculous. About seven years ago, when I was in my misbehaving phase, I had a claim rep with a heavy southern accent give me a $2,500 offer on a case that eventually settled for $200,000. The claim rep really had no idea what they were doing and I thought it was going to be a quick presuit settlement for a substantial case. I was wrong and she was wrong. Unfortunately, I told her that she was most likely going to be fired for her poor decision-making and that she would probably lose her trailer home and be out on the street and hence should look for a different line of work. Now, none of this line of bile was based on anything but her southern drawl. Sure enough, as soon as I filed suit and a lawyer was assigned, the first thing I heard was that line about the trailer park. The case settled anyway soon after filing suit, but I sort of learned my lesson. Sort of.
The funny thing about dealing with claim reps is that everything is recorded and no matter what is said they are mercilessly audited and criticized. So, you can pretty much call a claim rep an idiot and point out all that is wrong with their analysis and they cannot hang up on you. They are just not allowed to. I have backed off from that approach as I have matured, but being a claim rep is in my opinion a pathetic line of work where you are required to undermine your fellow human’s life on a regular basis. I place claim reps just above corrections or prison guards on the scale of people. Prison guards spend so much time with criminals that their view of common decency degrades to the lowest common denominator and that is pretty low.