I have talked about case values before. Typically, the question is why is my friend’s case worth more than mine? Why is Billy getting more money than I am?Or, my friend had the same exact injury as me, so why don’t we get the same amount of money?
There are so many reasons why your offer may be lower. I couldn’t possibly cover every reason, but let me go through a few of them for you.
First, it may have something to do with your attorney and the insurance company’s experience with him or her. I just settled a case in December with CSAA. I was reasonable and worked with the adjuster. Now I have a new case with the same adjuster. He is going to remember that experience. That is going to help my current client. When I was an adjuster, I kept a log (it was actually hand written back in those days) of attorneys who worked with me and made sure I helped them as well. I also had a list of attorneys who did not try cases. Yes, such attorneys exist. And yes, insurance companies pay them less for their clients since everyone knows the case will settle before trial. Talk to your attorney about his experience with the insurance company and whether he or she actually tries cases.
Second, it may have something to do with the amount of insurance that the other person has. In California, a driver is only required to carry $15,000 of insurance per person and $30,000 per accident. In some cases, they can carry $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident if they qualify for a low income policy. This can have a huge effect on how much money you receive. (This is also why you need to carry uninsured motorist coverage as it also provides underinsured motorist coverage.)
Third, it may have something to do with the way the demand was presented to the insurance company. A well written demand can make the difference. Sometimes a shorter demand is the way to go. Sometimes a longer demand is needed. The type of letter that is presented can affect your case.
Fourth, it is rare, very rare, that two people will have the exact same injury. Maybe you both injured your backs, but your treatment type, length and cost are going to vary. Additionally, maybe you took time off of work and your friend did not, or you both took time off from work but your wage loss is more because you earn more money. There are a variety of ways that your case can vary from someone else’s case, even if you both have injured the same body part.
My point is that there are a lot of factors to consider in determining what a case is worth. If you are not happy with your offer, you need to talk to your attorney and ask him why the insurance company made the offer that they did. I can tell you, as a former insurance adjuster, there are numerous variables in offers, including things most people do not think about. You should have a talk with your attorney, and if you do not like your attorney’s answer, go get a second opinion about the value of your case from another attorney.
Remember, just as no two snowflakes are the same, no two injury cases are the same.