Recently Marco Bendinelli and the Bendinelli Law Firm, PC attained of trial verdict awarding our client a total of $227,000 (not including costs and interest fees). This case is the perfect example of why it is so important that you hire an experienced trial lawyer. While you may think your case is small and you won’t need to go to court, you may find that the insurance company will do just about anything to avoid paying you a fair and just settlement.
Our client’s case began as a somewhat small case with some challenges that an inexperienced trial attorney might not be able to handle. In fact, the Bendinelli Law Firm was the third law firm our client hired.
In July 2009, the at-fault driver attempted an illegal left turn in front of our client which caused the crash. The police officer at the scene reported moderate damage to both cars and no injuries. The next day, our client went to the emergency room complaining of shooting pains down his left leg. Additionally, our client had a history of low back and neck pain. After the accident our client began treatment with a chiropractor, for his leg injury, but mainly for neck pain. He was then referred to a medical doctor that eventually, recommended our client have a back surgery. After approximately 16 month gap in treatment, our client went to the ER again complaining of severe shooting pain down his left leg.
In addition to the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, our client carried a $25,000 Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist policy. Just before trial, his insurance company offered a settlement of just under policy limits of $24,750, which our client accepted. Even though the insurance company acknowledged that the leg pain was caused by the accident, and the at-fault driver carried a $25,000 bodily injury policy, her insurance company made a “zero” offer.
While most cases are not as complicated as this case, the insurance companies will use some of these tactics in even the simplest car accident cases.
The first challenge: The report of moderate damage to the vehicle.
Insurance companies will automatically deny your injury claim if the damage is your car is slight or “moderate.” Studies has proven that many soft tissue injuries occur even when there is little or no damage to any vehicles involved in the crash.
The second challenge: There were no reported injuries at the time of the accident.
The fact is many injuries sustained in a car accident are not of the obvious and devastating nature as broken bones and bleeding cuts. Many car accident injuries are not immediately recognizable such as traumatic brain injuries, soft tissue injuries or internal injuries. Sometimes, these types of injuries can take days for the victim to notice. They start with a small ache or pain, or loss of concentration that we usually attribute to the trauma of the accident and assume that these symptoms will go away.
The third challenge: Causation―What caused the client’s injuries
Since our client had a history of low back pain, the attorney for the insurance company tried to prove that our client’s injuries were a pre-existing condition and therefore not covered by their client’s (the at-fault party) insurance policy. Fortunately, the chiropractor’s and surgeon’s records and testimony proved to the jury that this was a new injury caused by the accident. Mr. Bendinelli was able to show the jury that the medical expert hired by the insurance company was biased and his testimony was not credible.
The fourth challenge: Gap in Treatment
Insurance companies will use a gap in treatment as another tactic to prove that the injury did not occur in the car accident caused by their client. The fact is many people suffer needlessly, and don’t seek additional treatment thinking that their injury will “just get better.” And understandably many clients are reluctant and fearful of surgery. The Bendinelli Law Firm was able to show the jury that although our client did indeed have prior back and neck problems, this particular injury occurred as a result of the car accident.
The fifth challenge: Lengthy and Complicated Litigation Process Created by the Insurance Companies
If you cannot come to a fair and just settlement with the insurance company, it then advances the trial (or litigation) phase. The insurance company will keep filing motions and counter-motions in an effort to wear you down. They have deep pockets and are paid by the hour to defend their clients. Personal Injury attorneys are paid a percentage of your settlement. So, if you don’t win your case, the attorney doesn’t get paid. The insurance companies know this, so it’s in their best interest to keep denying your claim, and once it goes to trial, they will make every effort to delay the trial and make things more complicated and uncomfortable, hoping to wear you down. Our client’s car accident occurred in July of 2009 and just went to a jury trial in August of 2014―a five year wait! Only an experienced personal injury law firm with both the financial and staff resources can handle these types of cases.
The lesson to be learned with this victory for our client is; even if you think you have a small claim, even if you don’t think your case will go to trial, even if you think the insurance company will treat you fairly, the bottom line is…it is in your best interest to hire an experienced trial lawyer like Marco Bendinelli. Call us…we can help!