How often do your cases end up going to trial?
Herb: I’d probably say less than ten percent. Most cases do get resolved. The cases that don’t get resolved are usually problematic where the insurance company thinks there’s a prior condition that the client may have had a long time ago that may really be the problems they’re having right now.
It may be unreasonable expectations by the client or the insurance company. But most cases, at some point, do get resolved.
A lot of people don’t like to take the risk of a jury, but sometimes you have to. You have to take a risk, go to court, and go to a jury trial. Sometimes the insurance company’s just not being fair. And if that’s the case, if your client’s truly hurt and the insurance company’s not being fair, the jury will award the money. And depending on the type of case or the size of the case, the judge could award attorney fees to punish the insurance company.
In North Carolina, if the jury awards you more than the last offer by the insurance company and it’s less than a certain amount, the judge can tack on attorney fees. And what that does is give attorneys on smaller cases the incentive to take these cases to court. A lot of attorneys don’t want to take a case to court that’s worth $2,000.00 or $3,000.00 and spend 100 hours working on it. That comes out to a dollar or two dollars an hour.
And the insurance companies know that they’re low balling these small cases. But if the attorney takes the case to court and wins that case, let’s say the insurance company offers $3,000.00 on a case where the bill’s $4,000.00, the jury awards $4,050.00, and the judge can award attorney fees up to $10,000.00 to penalize the insurance company.
Insurance companies have gotten really tough and they’re low balling on a lot of cases. And we’ve been successful, like other firms, at getting awards on those. Some of these insurance companies now, GEICO, Allstate, they’re just making unreasonably low offers and a lot of clients accept them and some don’t. And they take the risk. But if you go to court on those cases, you can win.
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