I hear this a lot: “I’m tired of this insurance company treating me like I don’t matter. I’m the one that got hit. I didn’t do anything wrong.” Every time I hear this sentiment I completely understand the client’s frustration. Motor vehicle wreck cases can be long and tedious and incredibly frustrating. While I understand the client’s sentiment, it is incumbent upon me, as their attorney, to help center the client and see their case for what it ultimately is. Sometimes cases are good. Sometimes cases are bad. Many lie in the middle. And it’s these cases that bring their victims the most frustration.
I commonly tell my clients, if you are frustrated and make a decision out of frustration, you might regret that decision. Clients can suffer the disappointment of bad settlement offers. Often they are subjected to hours of deposition questions by opposing counsel that seem to have no bearing on their case. Clients are often subjected to the humiliation of medical exams by the Defendant’s doctor[s].
You might be asking yourself, “How can I not take all of that personally?” Well that is what the insurance company wants you to feel. They want you to get angry and make a bad decision. They don’t want you to be smarter than them. Insurance companies view victims of motor vehicle wrecks as one thing: risk. What kind of and how much risk are you. They base their decisions partly on the risk you pose to them.
The most common pleas I hear are, “I just want what is fair.” Sometimes what is fair is offered and sometimes it is not. Focusing on the latter of those two scenarios, what are you to do then? One way a client can help themselves is to put yourself in the shoes of a juror. Imagine you had never experienced what you had experienced. Imagine you heard your case. What would you think? How would you value the loss? Ask yourself the question “why” multiple times and how does the logic play out? That’s what a trial is, a referendum on the “why” part of your case.
A case’s value always comes down to the “why” and risk. What kind of risks are present in your case (weighed against its strengths) and why does your case matter. Remember a jury does not get to hear about the existence of an insurance company, so the “why” is of paramount importance. Jurors want to know if there is good reason to hit a defendant with a fair verdict. Giving them a reason to care matters. If you can’t explain why this wreck matters to you then how can you expect six strangers to fairly compensate you.
So how do you balance not taking the process of being in an auto wreck and not being fairly compensated with not being over-emotional? That’s where your attorney comes in. A good attorney should be able to help you navigate through these complex waters. But, as difficult as it seems, don’t take the process personally. Let the facts guide you. When you do this, you see the risks involved. When you listen to the feedback of your attorney with an open mind, you see the pros and cons. And when you put all of those things together, you most likely the get the right decision for your case. Every case is different because every client is completely different. Every client comes in with his or her own pre-existing (known or unknown at the time of the wreck) medical conditions or issues. Understanding that your case is unique, and not like the next person’s, is incredibly important in the process of making a sound decision that is in your best interests.