If One Side Doesn’t Like The Outcome Provided By The Economic Expert Or Doesn’t Agree With It, Can We Get Another Expert In To Offer A Second Opinion?
Yes. If a lawyer representing an injured party (the plaintiff) goes to an expert and doesn’t like the expert’s opinion, not only do they not have to use that expert, but they don’t have to divulge that expert. This means that as plaintiff attorneys, we do not have to tell the defense attorneys about experts we consult unless we use their testimony at trial.
It is slightly different on the side of the injured party and/or their insurance company (the defendant). If they want the plaintiff to be examined by an expert, the plaintiff’s attorney has a right to be present at the examination and to receive a copy of the examiner’s report. If the defense then does not like the opinion of the expert, they don’t have to use the expert in trial. However, by that point they will have already divulged the opinion to the plaintiff’s attorneys, who can use that expert’s opinion when pursuing the plaintiff’s case.
Is The Insurance Company Usually Going To Give Me A Fair Offer The First Time Around?
Never. In our experience, no insurance company will give you a fair offer the first time around.
When The Insurance Company Comes Back With A Lowball Offer Or Denies A Claim Altogether, What Are The Next Steps You And Your Client Will Take To Move Toward A Fair Offer?
As a personal injury attorney representing plaintiffs, I regularly deal with lowballs and denials from insurance companies. Usually, I do not immediately file suit, and instead opt to build my client’s case first. We have the injured plaintiff treated by their physicians and healthcare providers. We also contract with experts to examine the plaintiff and give us their opinion on the plaintiff’s prognosis. All the while, the insurance company never knows who we’re using to treat the plaintiff or who we may be using as expert witnesses. Then, once we are ready to present a full demand, we may file a lawsuit and let them go from there.
Generally, I don’t like to file a lawsuit until the claimant reaches MMI, Maximum Medical Improvement. This means that they have improved as much as they are likely to ever improve. Most of these cases involve permanent injuries, which means that this is the best possible condition the person will be in for the rest of their lives.
In some cases, I will present my counter-offer, and if they don’t take that offer, we have the right to file a lawsuit. We may possibly even be able to expand insurance coverage under what’s called the Doctrine of Bad Faith in Florida, a very complex doctrine which could be its own book.
What Factors Help You As The Personal Injury Attorney Help Determine Whether It’s Time To Advise Your Client That They Should Perhaps Take A Case To Trial?
The client always determines whether or not they want to take the risk of going to trial. We determine whether the offer presented is sufficient or fair to them. If they ask me what the case is worth, I tell them the range that similar cases have been settled or tried for and we try to estimate whether or not it makes sense for the client to pursue trial.
If we suggest that a client settles instead of pursuing trial, we are sometimes met with resistance. If the client says the settlement isn’t enough and they want to pursue trial for a larger settlement, then we caution the client that there are no guarantees about what they might get at court. We can make some likely predictions on how likely a jury would be to act in their favor, considering the strength of their case. However, it cannot be stressed enough that every jury is different, and we have no crystal ball on what an individual jury is going to award (or not award) in a specific case.
Moreover, we tell them that they have a right to go to trial, but if they go to trial and lose, under many instances, they have to pay fees and costs to the other side. This is because Florida is in large part a “loser pay state”, meaning that the loser of a trial must pay the attorney fees and court costs of the winner of a trial.
We make sure our clients know what our advice is, and what the potential repercussions are if they decide to go to trial against our advice and wind up losing. Ultimately, though, it is their choice whether or not they go to trial.
Am I Guaranteed A Larger Settlement If My Case Goes To Trial And Wins? Could I Possibly Get Less Than The Original Amount That Was Offered?
Once again, we never know what we’re going to get at trial. We merely use our judgement to make best guesses, based on the strength of the case and our own past experience. There are many possible outcomes if a person decides to go to trial instead of accepting a settlement offer. They may get more than the settlement amount, but they may also get the same amount, or less.