May 29, 2006

For the Kentucky Injury Lawyer: Top 5 Things to Do in Response to Unfair Settlement Tactics

TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
IN RESPONSE TO UNFAIR SETTLEMENT TACTICS

A memo for Kentucky injury lawyers:

As lawyers, we care deeply for our clients. We understand the struggles they endure as a result of their injuries. We also know that when an insurance company doesn't seem to care or doesn't take our client's situation seriously, it compounds our clients' stress and worry.

All too often, we are confronted with unreasonable and unfair settlement tactics. Our instincts tell us to react in a strong, adversarial manner. But to do so does not serve our clients' needs. Not only does the negotiation process break down, but it also provides the insurance company with a rationale for continued unfair stance in negotiation.

By continuing to act in a helpful cooperative manner, one of two things will happen:

a. The insurance company will continue to negotiate and will finally agree to pay your client a fair amount.

OR

b. The insurance company will continue to engage in unfair claims settlement practices through delay, denial or low-ball offers.

Obviously, option a is the preferable outcome. But if they choose option b, there is likely a claim under the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. When this comes to fruition, your client's claim is much stronger when you have maintained a helpful, cooperative stance. On the other hand, if you reacted with bravado and bluster, contentious language or threats, the insurance company will use that to their advantage in defense of the "bad faith" claim. They will attempt to paint you as an unreasonable, greedy trial lawyer. Though you know you were just advocating for your client, juries are sometimes duped by the insurance company's argument that your actions justified their unreasonable conduct.

Hence, the following list of things to do in response to denial, delay or low-ball offers.

TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN RESPONSE TO UNFAIR SETTLEMENT TACTICS

1. Maintain civility and cooperation.
Resist the urge to fire off a contentious letter threatening a bad faith lawsuit. That is the worst course of action you can take.

2. Explain to the adjuster why she is wrong, and why the offer is not fair.
Refer to items in the medical record which contradict her stance. Send extra copies of those pages from the record in case she overlooked them.

3. Tell the adjuster how the delay/denial/low-ball offer is impacting your client's life.

4. Ask her to explain/justify why the company’s offer is so low.

5. Ask if there is more information you could provide her with, and request that she reconsider her offer.


***AS WITH ALL NEGOTIATION COMMUNICATION WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY, THESE STEPS MUST BE IN WRITING. YOU MUST FILL THE ADJUSTER'S CLAIM FILE WITH CORRESPONDENCE AND DOCUMENTS SO THAT SHE CANNOT LATER CONVENIENTLY REMEMBER THINGS DIFFERENTLY.***

May 26, 2006

For the Kentucky Trial Lawyer: TOP 5 TRUTHS ABOUT PRE-TRIAL RESEARCH

One of the best trial consultants in the country, Becky Jones of Modlin & Jones Trial Consulting in Northern Kentucky, has come up with some Top 5 lists for trial lawyers for out blog. Her first installment is below. These tips apply in personal injury, medical malpractice or even insurance bad faith cases.

TOP 5 TRUTHS ABOUT PRE-TRIAL RESEARCH

1. The purpose of pre-trial research (discussion groups, focus groups, mock trials) is not to win the exercise, but to learn how to avoid losing.

2. The purpose of pre-trial research is to learn what questions the jurors will ask.

3. Listen to how research participants speak. They talk like jurors, not lawyers.

4. Don’t simply ask participants what they believe. Ask them why they believe it.

5. Use your research to help you evaluate the best way to resolve your case (i.e. mediation, arbitration, summary jury trial, or jury trial).

contributed by:
Becky S. Jones
Modlin & Jones Trial Consulting
130 Dudley Road, Suite 120
Edgewood, KY 41017
(859) 341-7170
(859) 341-7173 Fax

May 22, 2006

For the Kentucky Injury Lawyer: Things Paralegals Want to Tell Their Lawyers

David Swanner of South Carolina Trial Law Blog offers up this valuable list:  Top 5 Things Paralegals Want to Tell Their Lawyers

Tips from Paralegal Shirley Hughes

Dear Attorney:

You could make my job easier and I could be a more effective employee by considering the following:

1. Not everything is an emergency. Please prioritize my work.
2. Return phone calls the same day.
3. Do not micro-manage me, you hired me for my brain and ability to do the job.
4. Do not ask me to lie to the client or anyone else, if you don't want to take a call. (I have a solid rule: Lie to me, because I won't lie to your wife when she calls.)

Sincerely,

Your overworked Paralegal

South Carolina Trial Law Blog: Things Paralegals Want to Tell Their Lawyers.