Verdicts & Settlements

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“Limited Tort” continues to be the red headed step-child in the Pennsylvania personal injury world. The term creates confusion for our clients, contention between lawyers, and frustration among firms. The insurance companies are the only ones excited by the term. The insurance companies continue to take a harder and harder stance against limited tort victims every day. Because of this, we tend to approach limited tort cases in one of three ways:

a) Decline, or refer a potential limited tort client immediately at the onset of the case;

b) Accept limited tort cases with the intention of settling pre-suit to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation; or

c) Accept limited tort cases with an eye towards aggressive litigation.

The deterrent nature of a limited tort case has clearly affected the way in which both the plaintiff’s and defense bars approach them. As trial lawyers, we have the power to change the behaviors of the insurance companies in how we handle these tougher cases. The way that you approach your case can have a profound impact not just for your individual client, but for the limited tort “community” as a whole. So, what kind of limited tort lawyer are you?

A. I Don’t Handle Limited Tort Cases

I get it. You have bigger, better full tort cases that require your time, money and resources. You cannot take time away from these bigger files to handle a smaller limited tort case. However, that doesn’t mean that your limited tort client has to be left out in the cold. Even if your firm has made a business decision to avoid limited tort litigation, do not simply turn these clients away. There are firms and lawyers ready, willing and equipped to get the case into the Courtroom.

By turning away your limited tort client you are simply conceding that limited tort clients don’t deserve compensation, forcing the clients to either go at it alone or give up altogether. Every limited tort claim that falls by the wayside is a victory for the insurance companies. Do not let this happen. Instead, team up with an experienced trial team that will put the carriers’ fates in the juries’ hands. It will not only make all the difference in the world for the client, but for the next dozen, or even hundred limited tort clients that come knocking.

B. I Take Limited Tort Cases But Settle Them Cheaply Pre-Suit

We all have those loyal clients that we don’t have the heart to turn away. While we could refer their limited tort case to trial counsel, we feel that reciprocal loyalty that makes us want to take on the case ourselves. Your limited tort clients will always be grateful that you gave them a fighting chance. A nominal pre-suit settlement is better than being turned away, right?
Wrong. A pre-suit, pennies-on-the-dollar settlement won’t change your client’s life. It won’t change the lives of those next hundred limited tort clients that come knocking. And worst of all, it won’t change the unfair way that the insurance companies continue to treat our clients. Without the threat of litigation, and a jury, the carriers have no incentive to make anything but a low-ball offer. And remember, adjustors wouldn’t be making these low-ball offers if they didn’t know someone who accepts them. Don’t be that lawyer that accepts those lowball offers. Putting your limited tort case in suit is the only way to force change upon the status quo. I implore you to take this action, or refer your limited tort case to a firm that will.

C. I Aggressively Litigate Limited Tort Cases

Make no mistake about it; the insurance companies know which firms try limited tort cases and which ones don’t. They know which lawyers value cases through the eyes of an adjustor and which ones through the eyes of a juror. They know who the settlement lawyers are and who the trial lawyers are. Which one are you?
When you aggressively litigate your limited tort cases, you are sending a message to the carrier that your clients will not simply concede. You will not seek out cheap pre-suit settlements. You will not accept pennies-on-the-dollar offers. You are ready to endure the time and expense of trial and give your limited tort client her day in Court. These lawyers are the ones that can change insurance company behavior. They are the ones that can change the life of a limited tort client. They are the ones that can change the lives of the entire limited tort populous.
When a limited tort client comes to you for help, what kind of lawyer will they find?

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