We have a number of cases where we made the insurance company pay court costs that were more than the liability insurance policy limit.
A frequent situation is with $25,000 insurance policies where the injury is really worth more. Typically, the insurance company will offer an amount significantly less than the $25,000 insurance policy.
For instance, an insurance claims representative might offer $3,500 and try to settle for $7,500. Most personal injury lawyers will take it because it’s not worth the time or money to get more.
Why Insurance Companies Offer Less When Your Injury Is Worth More
- The insurance claims representative is simply doing their job by trying to settle the claim for less money and save money for the insurance company.
- Insurance claims representatives usually have a cap on how much they are allowed to settle a claim. Sometimes, a claims representative may have a maximum cap that is less than a $25,000 policy limit.
What makes it more difficult for us is that so many personal injury lawyers will either take the offer or just haggle for another couple of thousand dollars.
Personal injury attorneys will sometimes decline the offer, particularly if it’s too small like $3,500 and they will file a lawsuit. The next day, the insurance company will increase the offer.
We do not want to allow insurance companies to make our clients pay for unnecessary court expenses. And, we are tired of insurance companies offering too little and forcing us to file a lawsuit, so we have a new policy.
Once we file a lawsuit, we will not accept an offer of the entire insurance policy unless the insurance company pays the $210 NYS Supreme Court filing fee. Within a few days, we will receive a bill from our process server, and we will make the insurance company pay that as well. If they still haven’t settled by paying the court costs and we have depositions, the insurance company will also have to pay your deposition costs.
If we can obtain Summary Judgment, the insurance company will also have to pay you 9% interest.
If the insurance company doesn’t pay the court costs, we will continue to litigate your case in New York Supreme Court and take your case to trial even if the insurance policy is only $25,000.
We will ask the jury to compensate you for a lot more money, and we will seek to make the defendant or the insurance company pay it.
Our Litigation Policy Is Working! 3 Examples Where We Made the Insurance Company Pay
Example #1 — We recently continued litigating a motorcycle accident case where the insurance company offered to pay the entire $25,000 liability coverage for our client’s injuries but was not offering to pay the entire amount of our client’s property damage to his motorcycle.
We were only arguing over approximately $3,500, but we continued with the lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court. We did this even though we don’t charge our clients a legal fee for the amount we collect for property damage. We were working on this case for free!
Eventually, the insurance company relented and paid the entire collision damage amount for our client’s motorcycle. Since we did not charge our client a legal fee for our work, our client was able to rebuild his motorcycle and was extremely happy.
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Example #2 — 21st Century Insurance refused to pay the entire $25,000 insurance policy for our client’s injury. We faxed a letter to the insurance company warning them that we will file a Summons and Complaint in New York State Supreme Court and if they offer the entire policy after that, we will make them pay the $210 cost of filing the lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court.
The very next day, the claim was transferred to a new claims representative, and we received a call from the new claims representative offering the entire policy. We explained that we would no longer accept it.
Although the insurance claims representative proclaimed quite a few times that it was impossible to pay more than the policy, we advised that we were continuing with the lawsuit. 30 minutes later, the claims representative agreed to pay the $210 filing fee.
See the letter from the insurance company which forwarded a check in the amount of $25,000 for personal injuries and another check in the amount of $210 for the New York State Supreme Court filing fee.
Example #3 — We demanded that GEICO pay $25,000 to settle our client’s claim for a scar. GEICO offered $7,500. We declined the offer, and in the same phone conversation, they increased their offer to $9,500 and said that was the limit of what they could pay. We faxed our letter to GEICO warning that we will file a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court and that we would hold them accountable for paying court expenses. The next morning, GEICO offered the entire $25,000 insurance policy.
Will We Really Litigate a Personal Injury Case with a $25,000 Policy?
Yes, we will! We don’t know any other personal injury attorneys in New York who would ever litigate a case with a $25,000 insurance policy because it involves years of work and the trial costs are too expensive. It is not financially feasible. Financially, it makes no sense! That’s why they often settle these cases for $7,500 to $9,500.
Are we crazy? Maybe a little but we don’t care about money anymore. We don’t have to worry about paying bills, and we have a lot less stress. Best of all, it frees us up to do what we really want — enjoy our work and do the right thing for our clients!
After litigating a couple of small cases, the insurance companies now know we’re serious, and they usually pay the policy.
Doing the right thing for our clients is one of the reasons why LAW FIRM 500’s accounting audit listed us as the 44th fastest-growing law firm in the United States.
We also have cases where we made the insurance company pay a lot more than the policy. In one case, we made GEICO pay $135,000 more than the insurance policy. GEICO paid $155,000 when the insurance policy was only $25,000. See our settlements and verdicts.
Phil Franckel is well-known in New York and has been a personal injury lawyer since 1989. He is a Founding Partner of 1-800-HURT-911, LLP®, the Personal Injury Dream Team™, and a former Member Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He has an Avvo Top 10 Rating, Avvo Client’s Choice Award with all 5-star reviews, Avvo Top Contributor Award, Multi-Million Dollar Trial Lawyers Award, and others. See Mr. Franckel’s bio for areas of expertise.
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.
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