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How to Settle Personal Injury Cases for More Money

June 1, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan auto accident lawyers will learn valuable skills at the Michigan Association for Justice seminar

This Thursday, I will be moderating and speaking at a seminar aimed at teaching auto accident lawyers how to settle accident cases for more money. The seminar is by the Michigan Association for Justice and will take place in Novi, Michigan.

The forum’s topic is “How to Settle Accident Cases for More Money.” It’s more than a catchy name. It is becoming a necessity for lawyers to understand how claims software programs that are being used by the insurance industry today, such as Colossus, are changing everything. These programs have been responsible for a very real decrease in the value of all personal injury cases. It has been reported that 16 of the top 20 insurance companies, and 70 percent of the overall insurance industry uses some type of claims assessment software to evaluate personal injury claims. These computer programs all work on the same principle of tracking settlements of similar cases and personal injuries, then giving claims adjusters a range of what they have authority to settle these cases for.

The Right Personal Injury Lawyer Matters More than Ever Before

In years past, when an incompetent personal injury lawyer, or a divorce lawyer, or general lawyer tried to make a quick buck and settle a case cheap, all he was hurting was his client. Now, with the widespread adoption of these programs, even the very best personal injury lawyers are finding the settlement offers constrained. This is because the values of their cases are gradually lowered each year, as median settlement values reflect every low and inadequate settlement and every negotiation made by bad lawyers. Everyone is now affected.

Five Tips to Maximizing Personal Injury Settlements

My speech at the seminar is titled, “Five Tips to Maximizing Personal Injury Settlements.”

Here’s my number one tip. To settle cases for top dollar, you have to try cases.

There is only one area – and one area only I know of today, where you as a personal injury lawyer can actually make a huge difference in the settlement amount: You must be a lawyer known to try cases. You must be a lawyer who has demonstrated in the past a credible threat to take cases to trial (and it certainly helps when you can win, too).

I can’t emphasize this enough. The difference in a lawyer’s reputation and his reputation to be willing to take a case to trial is huge. Bad faith litigation against Allstate and other insurance companies has shown that, depending on the auto insurance company, a lawyer’s reputation as someone willing to take a case to trial can increase the value of a settlement up to four times higher for his client over the same exact injury case handled by a lawyer who isn’t a credible trial lawyer.

This should come as no surprise. Insurance companies and defense lawyers know perfectly well who tries cases and who plays the game. They know if it has been 15 years since a lawyer has gone to trial, and they will conduct settlement negotiations accordingly. If you advertise for all sorts of areas of law besides personal injury, they know that you are not truly expert in what a claim is worth. And, most of all, if you do not try cases, or have proven lawyers who are real trial threats in your law office, you will never be able to settle injury cases for top dollar.

And therefore, my first tip is simple, but it is also the most important one. You must try cases.

Again, defense lawyers and claims adjusters will run verdict and settlement reports to find out how many cases you have tried and when you last tried a case. They know which lawyers never go to trial. If you never go to trial, you will never get top value on your cases, and you will always be selling your clients short. Period.

Steven M. Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top experts in serious car and truck accident injury cases and automobile insurance No-fault litigation. Michigan Auto Law has received the largest reported jury verdict for an automobile accident case in Michigan in seven of the past 10 years, including 2009, according to published year-end verdicts and settlements reports.

Related information:

13 Ways to Increase the Value of Auto Accident Cases

Enhancing Damages in Michigan Auto Accident Cases

17 Mistakes that Can Kill Your Car Accident Case

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with an auto accident attorney. We can help.

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