My clients are successful and intelligent individuals. He is logical and well reasoned. Some years ago he was involved in a significant rear end car accident. Before the accident he and his wife had no back or neck problems. Ever since the accident he has been suffering from back problems. He is a fairly stoic fellow and did not seek abundant medical attention. Specifically he went to the emergency room the day after the accident and received some anti-inflammatory pills. That did not help fully resolve the problem and several weeks later he went back and they recommended some home exercises. That did not help and several months later he went back and they recommended acupuncture treatment and he did that for five sessions. That helped a little bit but not fully. Almost 8 months postaccident he saw an orthopedic surgeon who recommended an MRI. Almost 1 year postaccident he had the MRI and again saw the orthopedic surgeon who recommended he see a specialist surgeon. The specialist surgeon reviewed the MRI saw that there were problems but thought that the risks of surgery outweighed the benefits of the surgery. After that my client went to a chiropractor for a while and this was two years postaccident.
The man had almost $8000 in medical expenses and his wife had almost $800 medical expenses. As I stated, he was well educated, thoughtful, logical and tried to resolve the case on his own. He sent a well written demand letter to the insurance company. He included pictures of the damage to the car, all of his medical expenses, some of the doctors reports. The insurance company offered him $2500 to settle both cases.
He came to me several days before the statute of limitations ran asking for assistance. Other law firms had turned him down. It is a significant risk taking a case several days before the statute of limitations runs. The lawyer may not have the correct name of the defendants, may not include all of the causes of actions, or not have all the facts, or other gaps in information. The point is that everything important must be pled by the running of the statute of limitations for the additional claims are usually barred. My client seem to be at wits and and I wanted to help so I took the case.
I filed a lawsuit and was able to chase down the owner of the car (I have a good process server). I was not able to find the driver because I think he had left the country.
I made an effort to look at the case objectively. Clearly my client was having back problems and he did not have them before the car accident. He clearly deserved compensation for his injuries. On the other hand, the burden is on the plaintiff (my client) to prove his injuries to a jury. He must get evidence together which shows that his injuries were a result of the accident. The problem is that the doctors were not clear in relating his problems to the car accident. My client was also not inclined to pay for the cost of an opinion from the various doctors (it is not unusual for a doctor to charge several hundred dollars or more for a written opinion).
Given these limitations and the fact that the accident happened in Montgomery County it was my opinion that our best results could be had through mediation. I chose someone who was a very experienced insurance defense attorney. I was certain that the insurance company lawyer would agree with that mediator. My hope was that the mediator would help educate my client as to the value of the case (lowering my client's expectations somewhat) and simultaneously putting credible pressure on the insurance company to make a fair settlement.
The mediation took just over two hours. The initial offer that my client received on his own was $2500 for both cases. By the time we were done I was able to obtain a settlement of seven times that original offer for both clients.
In my mind this was a pretty good result. I think the result was based on various factors including my ability to present my client's case in the best light, my reputation in the legal community (I try to be reasonable and make things work out but I am also perfectly willing to try a case), my ability to get along with the defense attorney and the insurance adjuster and finally the choice of the mediator.
If you are hurt in an accident, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to get you maximum value for your case.