Attorneys trying to get the best compensation possible for their clients need to avoid the temptation to engage in the slippery slope of talking to insurance adjusters in “___ times specials” terms. Why? Because there is no formula to calculate settlement value. A traffic collision case is worth what a judge or jury would give the Plaintiff and there are about 10 variables far more important to this calculus than any settlement calculator or formula.
Okay, but why it is actually harmful to talk to insurance companies like this? Insurance adjusters deal with a lot of lawyers. Some who know exactly what they are doing and others who do not have a clue how to properly position an accident case to maximize the value of that case. (You can guess for yourself the relative proportions of those who know what they are talking about and those without a clue. The real truth is depressing.)
When attorneys use formula talk, they are telegraphing to the claims adjuster that you are looking at your client as simply a number that is a part of a formula, not a person. Attorneys that talk in “times specials” math like there is some theorem are not the same advocates that read and evaluate the medical records… or take cases to a jury. Insurance companies take advantage of that. Quick. We are experienced trial lawyers.
Sure, in very small whiplash injury type cases, a multiplier type formula will be correct in many of these claims. Still, even in those small soft tissue whiplashes type cases, tossing around formulas and calculators will send a loud message to the adjuster that will forever mark the lawyer as an inexperienced advocate who is not able to fight the fight their clients need. This makes for a smaller settlement offer in this case and the next one.
Settlement Formulas in Disguise
One thing insurance companies – thinking particularly of Nationwide nd State Farm Insurance – have been doing of late is pitching offers in terms of how much more they are paying than the medical bills and lost wages. Someone smart came up with this because it is like calling something $9.99 instead of $10.00. It just sounds more palatable to say, “We are offering $50,000 more than the special damages” than saying “this offer is 1.8 times the medical bills plus lost wages.” But, really, it is the same thing as a monetary compensation formula. Regardless of how it is packaged, it is nonsense.