At some point after presenting your entire claim to the insurance adjuster, you will get an offer of some sort. Usually, it will be much less than you were hoping. In my experience, it will be about half of what you were hoping for. You should discuss the offer with your lawyer. An attorney who has a great deal of experience in the area of personal injury should be helpful in determining the ballpark settlement value for your case. As a former defense attorney and now a plaintiff's attorney, I've seen all kinds of cases cross my desk. As such, you start to get a good sense of not only what the case is worth, but what a jury might do with the case.
After evaluating all factors, your attorney will discuss the case with you to come to a possible acceptable settlement range. Once you both have come to an agreement upon a general settlement range, your attorney will continue negotiating with the insurance company in hope that they will pay within the settlement range. Sometimes, you get a reasonable adjuster who will negotiate with you and work with your lawyer in an amicable fashion. Sometimes, you get an adjuster who is just generally angry with the world (something happened during their childhood), and all they want to do is even the score - regardless who they are dealing with.
Your lawyer is not a miracle worker. There is going to come a breaking point at which the adjuster will offer no more money. They will essentially draw a line in the sand. At that point, the lawyer and the client will have to talk numbers. Will there be enough money to pay off the doctors and other lien-holders? Will there be enough to pay the attorney fees and pay the client as well? If the final numbers are acceptable (even if you're not crazy about the final numbers), then you should settle the case. Remember, in most cases the settlement amount will not be what you had in mind. If you are working with an experienced lawyer, then you will probably have reasonable expectations. You won't take things personally, and you will work to get a number that works. If the numbers still won't work out, then you and your lawyer will have to figure out whether or not filing a lawsuit against the responsible party makes sense.
If you want to discuss your personal injury case, please call attorney Robert Mansour at (661) 414-7100 for a consultation. Also, please read the other blog posts, FAQ and library entries for more information.
Some people are very curious what happens to the person who caused the accident. The truth is, nothing much ever happens to the person who caused the accident. Of course, if they were injured, they will be dealing with their own health care issues. If they were arrested for drunk driving or something else, then of course they will be dealing with that. However, if they were insured, then very little will probably happen. Their insurance company and your insurance company will likely want to take a "statement" from them to figure out what happened. Some insurance companies won't bother with that if liability is obvious. Some will insist on a statement from everyone and their dog regardless of how obvious the facts are.
If their insurance company accepts fault, then the other party is pretty much done. They will leave things to their insurance company to resolve. That's why they (and you) have insurance. If the party who caused the accident was deliberately underinsured, then they might have more to worry about. For example, let's say a very wealthy person gets the minimum auto insurance required by law. Then if your damages far exceed the other party's insurance policy, you can technically go after that person personally (to get more than the insurance policy). That's a long discussion for another day.
If the other party had no insurance, then your insurance will probably provide you with coverage as long as you had "uninsured motorist" provisions on your policy. If you don't have underinsured motorist coverage, then you can entertain pursuing the responsible party in court and get money out of them personally. You will likely have to file a lawsuit.
After the insurance company’s initial investigation of the incident, there is usually little or no contact between them and the person responsible for your damages. So to answer your question, they are most likely going on with their lives, hoping that the case will be settled by the insurance company. Their insurance rates will probably rise and/or their insurance company may ultimately dump them as clients.
If you want to discuss this further, please call (661) 414-7100 for further information or guidance on this issue.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,