Named Top Lawyers in Las Vegas by Greenspan Media Group/Vegas, Inc., & Desert Companion
HOW LONG WILL MY CASE TAKE?
NOTE: Accident victims want to know how long it will take to resolve their whole. They also want to know how long it will take to get their car fixed or replaced. First we answer the question about the whole case and at the bottom we answer the question about how long it takes to get their car fixed or replaced.
At a minimum, we want to get you full credit for how badly you are hurt. It may take some time to learn this. For example, if your ankle was broken in a car wreck, will it heal nicely or will it leave you with permanent damage? This may take some time.
Once we know the permanency of your injury we will try to settle your claim. Sometimes the insurance company will settle with us quickly. The two types of claims most likely to settle quickly are:
1) The claim is relatively small and the initial adjuster assigned to the case or the initial adjuster and his or her supervisor have authority to make a decision, and the client recovers quickly with no claim of permanent injury, or
2) The claim is very possibly worth more than the policy limit of the person who hit you. For example, the at fault driver who crashed into your car has a $100,000 policy limit. You have a broken bone and the bone break goes through a joint (which increases the risk of arthritis later on in the joint) and substantial medical bills. The at fault driver's insurance company may decide early on that it is better to pay their limit of $100,000 than to let the case go to trial and risk a larger jury verdict against their insured. For example, if your claim was worth about $100,000 give or take, and the policy limit was $100,000, your case would probably settle more quickly than if the policy limit were $1,000,000. In the first situation with a $100,000 adverse driver policy limit and you having underinsured motorist coverage, we might settle with the adverse driver for policy limits early on and keep the underinsured motorist claim open while we see if you end up with permanent injury. But if you had the same injuries and the adverse driver had a $1,000,000 policy it would probably take longer to get you any money because we would not want to sell your claim too cheap if you developed long term disabilities and the insurance company would not be worried about us getting a judgment against their insured in excess of their policy limits.
However, there are at least four reasons why insurance companies sometimes do not settle claims quickly.
First, the insurance company may float a low offer to see if you the client are desperate enough for the money that you will take a low offer, maybe not at first, but maybe after a month or two. The only sensible response on our part is to file suit and show the low offer didn't work. Sometimes filing suit will cause the company to make a more realistic offer. If you are on our low discount 25% contingency fee, Low Fee Some Car Accidents, we don't up our fee for filing suit like some of our competitors. So after we show we are serious the insurance company may up its offer. Sometimes, however, the insurance company, perhaps using some computer program, has determined that the case is worth no more than $X and they refuse to increase the offer just because suit has been filed. In such a case, we may have to try the case. Or, often times after we have prepared a case for trial, there may be new settlement opportunities. Typically, however, this will be close to the trial date which will usually be a year or two out from the filing of suit. In smaller cases, there is mandatory non-binding arbitration and sometimes the case settles after the arbitrator makes an award, but since the award is non-binding, either party can refuse to accept the arbitrator's decision. We understand that most clients want their case resolved quickly. Usually clients don't care what the total amount of the settlement is, only what their share will be. Most medical liens can be reduced, and sometimes, even after a lien holder has offered a reduction, we can go back to the lien holder and say, "If you will cut your lien some more, I can probably get my client to take the present offer; otherwise, we will have to go trial and it will take a while." Often, the medical lien holder will go for the bird in the hand rather than the two in bush. It also helps in negotiating with medical lien holders that when the lien holder says, "Well, Mr. Attorney, are you also cutting your fees?" we can reply that we are only taking a 25% fee.
Second, if we are asking for a lot of money from a large policy, the insurance company may want to get its lawyers involved in taking depositions (asking questions under oath of the injured person, medical providers and witnesses) and even having the injured person examined by a doctor selected by the insurance company. This is because no one at the insurance company wants to stick their neck out and pay a six or seven or eight figure dollar amount without a lot of documentation and recommendations from their own attorneys. Again, if we have to go through this process, we don't jack up our percentage fee like some of our competitors do.
If you have permanent injuries and there is a large insurance policy, we don't just wait for the insurance company to do its investigation. We may hire experts on issues such as future medical expenses and injuries. Again, this takes time.
Third, insurance companies go back and forth between thinking they are paying out too much money on claims too easily and thinking they are spending too much money on lawyers fighting claims that they will eventually have to pay. For example, for a long time State Farm Insurance had a reputation as being a pretty reasonable company to deal with. However, in recent years State Farm has apparently decided that it needs to take more claims to trial. So, in such a situation we have to try the case.
Fourth, an insurance claims person or the insurance company attorney may decide that a certain claim is defensible and they want to take the case to trial to try and win a defense verdict. Again, there is nothing to do but try the case. This is why you should hire lawyers who are not afraid to take your case to trial and who are not going to jack up the fee for taking the case to trial.
We can promise you, however, that your case will not be delayed because of lack of attention on our part. We give you our cell phone numbers and we, meaning the firm's attorneys, are very available to talk to you at any time about the progress of your case. We do not use "case managers" or "client relation specialists" or "paralegals" or "secretaries" to b.s. you about the status of your case. You pay us attorneys' fees and you get to talk to your attorneys, not some lower paid, less knowledgeable person.
However, most personal injury cases do settle. Our job as your attorney is to demonstrate why your claim is valid and deserving and thereby to convince the insurance company, or in less common cases, a jury, that you were genuinely hurt and have a valid claim.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY CAR FIXED OR REPLACED?
Let's say you are a driver involved in an accident and it is totally the other guy's fault. Naturally, you expect to have your car fixed or replaced and be put in a rental car until that happens. If you have collision coverage on your vehicle and car rental insurance, then all we have to do is have your own insurance company fix or replace your car and put you in a rental in the meantime. If you have, say, a $500 deductible, your own insurance company won't immediately pay that part of the repair or replacement but will collect what they paid you from the at fault driver's insurance and then at the same time collect your $500 for you.
But most of us do not buy car rental insurance and if we have older cars we may not bother with collision coverage. So, if that is the case, the claim for repair or replacement and a rental car in the meantime is made against the at fault driver's insurance. Sometimes, the adverse insurance company wraps up its investigation quickly, determines that their driver was 100% at fault, and quickly pay. However, we sometimes encounter adverse insurance companies that are unreasonable for any of these reasons:
1) They won't pay to fix your car and put you in a rental car until their own insured gives them a statement and their own insured won't give them a statement because they can't find their own insured and their own insured doesn't answer their calls or messages, or
2) They want to wait for the police report to be finalized and that can take a couple of weeks, or
3) It's a marginal insurance company and they don't do anything until they have to, or
4) Their adjuster is trying to make a name for himself or herself and claims that their insured in only 70% at fault no matter what the facts or what the police report says.
When we run into this nonsense there isn't a lot we or any other attorney can do immediately. Yes, sometimes we do file suit earlier than would otherwise be necessary because we can't even get the car damage settled. But to file and serve suit and wait for the defense to respond within the deadline can easily take a month. Ultimately, all we or any other lawyer can do is file suit for both the car damage and loss of use and your injuries.
One reason the adverse insurance company usually moves quickly to fix the other side's car or replace it, and pay for a rental in the meantime is that failure to do so may encourage the other side to hire a lawyer and make a personal injury claim that they otherwise might not make. (People should NOT make a personal injury claim if they are not hurt. BUT soft tissue injury claims can be subjective and some people may be tempted to make one if they feel that can't even handle their property damage claim without a lawyer. And, generally they can't get a lawyer to make only a property damage claim. They can only get a lawyer to make a property damage clam if it is incidental to a personal injury claim.)
On the other hand, if an insurance company strings along the accident victim for three or four weeks hinting they will pay for the property damage and then refuses to do so, and then the accident victim determines he really does a physical injury, the delay in seeking treatment will work to the advantage of the insurance company and cast doubt upon the credibility of the injury claim.
Can I Borrow Money Against my Case?
Attorneys are not allowed to loan clients money. We could lose our bar licenses if we did. Instead lawyers can refer clients to law suit loan sharks who charge sky high interest rates to loan money against a case. We don't like to see our clients borrow one dollar and have to pay back a buck fifty or two dollars.