How Do Insurance Companies Evaluate the Value of Cases
A jury is a large part of our injury system, and for cases that go to trial, a jury will determine how much your injuries are “worth” by putting a dollar figure on everything that you have gone through. But long before that happens, there is a negotiation process, usually with an insurance company. The insurance company may offer to settle your case, and they will assess their own value to your case.
How Insurance Companies Value Cases
Insurance companies offer to settle cases based on what juries have done with cases similar to yours. If juries give a million dollars for a case with the same facts as yours, the insurance company won’t offer you 100% of that amount, but they may come pretty close.
This means that smaller insurance company offers are often just a function of smaller awards by juries in courtrooms.
Of course, the problem comes in that juries are not bound by each other’s decisions. One jury that hears a case about a sideswipe car accident that causes a herniated disk with $50,000 in medical bills may award $75,000, and the very next day a jury hearing a case that is identical may award $10,000.Compound this with the fact that in reality, no two cases are ever exactly alike.
This all means that when insurance companies evaluate “how much could a jury make us pay if we take this case to trial,” they may have a wide range of verdicts to help them answer that question. This gives insurance companies a lot of leeway to make low offers.
Liability also is a factor. Let’s assume that there is a consensus that the value of the damages in a case with someone with your injury is $100,000. The insurance company will ask itself, what are the chances of a jury finding that their client (the defendant) is negligent?
In a rear end accident, that is a relatively easy question to answer. Defendants are almost always found liable in these types of cases. But what if the case is an accident in an intersection, with no traffic lights, and both sides say that the other side could have and should have avoided the accident? What if it is a slip and fall accident and the defendant claims the victim could have avoided the accident?
In these situations, the insurance company will say that although your injury may be “worth” $100,000, they may feel there is a good chance that a jury will find the Defendant not liable at all. So, they may offer $50,000 or less. They may offer nothing at all, if it seems that there is a good chance the jury will find the Defendant not liable.
Remember that a low offer from an insurance company is nothing more than a prediction. You don’t have to settle your case, and can always opt to go to trial.
The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group can answer your questions and help you obtain damages for injuries sustained in a car accident.