Verdicts & Settlements

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When thinking about our practices, many of us think about limited tort clients as pariahs, sucking time and money away from what seem to be more viable cases. Given the time, expense and man-power often required litigating these cases, many plaintiff lawyers too frequently settle limited tort cases pre-suit for pennies on the dollar, or even refuse to take them on at all. Unfortunately, the limited tort clients are the ones who suffer, being exiled to the “island of misfit toys” where they are denied their day in Court. This has to stop. Our clients deserve better. It is up to us – the collective plaintiff’s bar – to change the way our limited tort cases, and clients, are treated.
Some of you may be wondering why you should care so much about a few limited tort cases that have been nothing more than a drain on your time and resources, when you have bigger fish to fry. I’ll give you three (3) reasons:

1. YOUR CLIENT Deserves Her Day In Court
Any of us who handle auto accident cases have had a new client come to our office and say “I have limited tort, so I didn’t think I could sue.” Somewhere along the line, she was fed this lie. If we turn away limited tort clients, or settle their claims early just to avoid expensive litigation, we are simply perpetuating this fallacy. The carriers can and will continue to deny our clients access to the Courtroom unless we do something to change the way they operate. We must give our clients a fighting chance. Putting our limited tort case in suit and letting the jury decide is the only way to force the change we want.

2. YOUR FIRM Is Always Under the Insurance Company Microscope
Make no mistake about it, the insurance companies know more about you than you know about yourself. They watch every move you make and track every settlement you take. They know if you’re the settlement attorney that will take an early offer or if you’re the bulldog trial lawyer that isn’t scared to go in front of a jury. Every case has its holes and every trial has its risks. But, the more you avoid litigation, the less pressure the carriers feel. Adjustors will continue to try to settle cheap and early knowing that your cases will never see the inside of the Courtroom. We cannot let the carriers see us in this light. Even if you’ve never tried a case before, or you don’t believe the expense of litigation is in your firm’s best interest, don’t hide your limited tort cases from the light of the Courtroom. At the very least, team up with (or refer out to) an experienced trial team that will force the carriers into litigation and put our clients’ fates in the juries’ hands. It will make all the difference for your client, and your next 10, 50 and 100 limited tort clients that come knocking.

3. YOUR PROFESSION Is Being Challenged By The Insurance Industry
A pre-suit settlement is a victory for the insurance company. Every time we accept a pennies-on-the-dollar settlement in a limited tort case, a multi-billion dollar insurance company has proven that our client deserves nothing more than ‘nuisance value’ for her injury. They will now be justified in making the same low-ball offers to every single limited tort claimant they come across, not only from your firm, but from every plaintiff’s firm across the state. They wouldn’t make these offers if they didn’t know someone would accept it. Remember, your decision to litigate your limited tort cases not only affects your client and your firm, but the entire plaintiffs’ bar and ALL of our clients, as a collective.
When limited tort came to be, a large segment of Pennsylvanians were legislated out of the courtroom, being told that they could only sue for pain and suffering if they paid unaffordable rates for their insurance. Even worse, Pennsylvania lawyers were now forced to second guess the viability of their clients’ injury claims. Today, the carriers still use 75 Pa.C.S.A.1705 to shut out and shut down a large portion of our practices. By running away from litigation in limited tort cases, we are simply acquiescing. It’s time to stop running.

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