Hi. I’m Roger Ghai, and I often get questions about people who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident as to why their settlement is so low or rather why the insurance company is offering such a low amount of money. Number one, it depends really on the insurance companies. You could be involved in an accident and get let’s say a $5,000 offer from one insurance company, they have a reputation for lower low balling people, and you could get an offer from another insurance company that might offer you $15,000. So, it depends, number one, on the insurance company. As I said, I’ve had cases where sometimes we had identical facts. Had we had the case with a different insurance company, we would’ve have been able to get the case resolved and so forth.
The other issue that is involved in determining why the offer might be low is because these insurance companies, when they’re making these offers, they do the research. What I mean by that is this. The lawsuit, if a lawsuit has to be filed, it has to be filed in the county where the defendant, that is the negligent party, resides. So, if you’re outside of Metropolitan Atlanta, Paulding County, it could be Coweta County, Stockbridge, Bartow County, Cartersville, Rome, that area, and even Cobb County, those are what we call conservative jurisdictions. Jurors do not pay a lot of money on injury cases. So, that’s a factor that they already have done the research. Then when they’re talking to me, they’ll throw it up in my face a lot of times as an argument, “Well, if you file this case, you’ve got a conservative jury.” But now, on the other hand, we’re doing well when we can file a lot of times at Fulton County, [inaudible 00:02:06] County, that type of a thing. So, that’s the factor.
The other issue as to why the offers sometimes can be low is what type of a doctor did you go to, number one. Frankly speaking, a lot of times the insurance industry just, still to this day, even though chiropractors really are beneficial to a person if they’ve been involved in an accident, the insurance companies really discount that type of treatment. The other factor would be let’s say you’re going to go to trial, and this insurance company has had to depose this particular treating physician before, and that doctor, even though they might be really super book-smart, they might be a great neurosurgeon, but you know what? When they’re in front of a jury, they just don’t come off that well. Well, guess what? Jurors are going to see, hear, touch, and feel, for lack of a better term, that doctor, and if he or she does not testify well, then they’re gonna hold that against you.
Furthermore, sometimes what happens is that these doctors, they might tell you privately, when they’re treating you in their treating room, “Yeah. The the injuries were caused from the accident,” they have no doubt in their mind that the accident caused your injuries and your symptoms, but guess what? When your attorney, Roger Ghai in this case hopefully, goes ahead and actually wants to get them to do a report, they’re very reluctant to do reports, even if we pay them.
Sometimes we have to pay them up to $500 or $1,000 just to do what we call a narrative report. Then even then they don’t want to do it, because they don’t want really get hauled into court, because it takes time from their practice, and more likely than not, they can make more money in their office than they can by going to court. So, that’s another reason you have to have the doctor on your side. Like I say, I’ve had cases where the doctor might be telling you, as a patient or client, one thing, but when the attorney gets involved, it’s just a completely different ballgame. So, if the doctor’s not going to cooperate and support you in the case, then basically that’s a real death nail to the case.
The other factors that can determine the value of your case is you. How do you present yourself in front of a jury? Do you testify well? What’s your demeanor like? Are you credible? Are you able to articulate? Those sorts of factors. Sometimes you get a really whining plaintiff, and if you’re one of those winding plaintiffs, I can tell you for a fact that jurors are not going to take a liking to you. Okay? The best plaintiffs are the ones that say, “Yes. I’m doing fine.” They’ve had a really catastrophic injury, but they’re trying to make the best out of the situation, versus somebody who’s been involved in one of these fender benders and, “Woe was me. I’m hurt for the rest of my life. The accident happened two years ago. I went to a chiropractor and the medical doctor. I’m still hurting and everything, but guess what? I haven’t been to a doctor in two years.”
So, you see the contrast there, somebody who may be having a permanent injury and is saying that they’re doing fine, but they’re still having to seek medical treatment or have to have surgery or some repercussions from the surgery itself, but they’re saying they’re doing fine, versus somebody who’s going to be whining. If you’re one of those whining plaintiffs, it makes it hard for … I don’t care how good of a plaintiff’s lawyer you are, the jury just isn’t going to like you.
The other factor involves the type of case that you have. For example, if you’ve been involved in a fender bender, there’s not a lot of property damage on it, but you’re claiming all of these injuries. Sometimes there’s not even a scratch on the client’s bumper and they’re claiming injuries after injuries and for several years and so forth. If there’s not even a scratch on the bumper, they don’t have a broken bone, or herniated disc, or a bulging disc, or some other catastrophic type of an injury, it could be rotator cuff injury, but it’s just muscle strain and sprain, and it has to be filed in the real conservative county where those jurors don’t like to give out money anyhow, then that’s another factor that the insurance company is going to look at in determining how much they’re going to make an offer.
Now, I guess one final factor would be does the lawyer that you retain, does he or she actually file lawsuits? Do they actually try cases? These factors make a big difference, and it makes a big difference as to whether the lawyer that you hire is willing to at least file suit, go through depositions, go into court now and then, try some cases, and get some verdicts. If they do, then you’ve probably got a winner on your hands as far as the lawyer. If you have any questions about whether you need to pursue a case, or what type of lawyer to get, or if the insurance company is treating you fairly, please call my office at (770) 792-1000.