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Trivial Pursuits

Ask most people what I do for a living and they’ll say that I chase ambulances. That is false. North Carolina has a law prohibiting such conduct; and I, for one, am far too out of shape to ever hope to run and catch one. The truth of the matter, however, is that I do sue people for a living. In every jury trial I’ve done so far in my career I’ve found that the prevailing sentiment among the general public is that there are just too many lawsuits. Frivolous lawsuits. People are suing other people over trivial matters at the behest of some greedy ambulance chaser. So, why do so many people file lawsuits each year?

The answer is fairly simple from my perspective. In the personal injury context, it is often due to the behavior of the insurance companies. The overwhelming majority of my clients come into my office and say the exact same thing: “I’m not one for suing people. I’m not litigious.” Well, with all due respect to them, this is obviously not true because they’re in my office and litigation is my business. But in reality, even though I am allegedly a fairly nice guy and easy to talk to, all of them would rather not have to spend an afternoon with me. The client ends up in my office for the simple reason that the insurance company involved in the case often refuses to pay for the medical bills, lost wages and other damages the client suffered through no fault of their own.

Since the 1990s, the country’s largest insurance carriers have adopted a “get tough” approach to personal injury claims. This approach focuses not on the individual consumer, but rather the profits the industry brings in every year. As a result, the company’s own policyholders (you) end up getting dragged into court by people like me for claims that in all likelihood would settled if the companies would do the responsible thing and pay the often reasonable amounts the clients lose due to the company’s insured’s negligence.

The strategy works for the insurance industry. Fighting legitimate claims with their vast financial resources discourages worthy plaintiffs from going to court. Some companies, such as Allstate, routinely make line-in-the-sand offers that are far less than the actual medical bills the client incurred in the collision with their insured. By low-balling the client, the company actually forces the case into the court system. According to one former Allstate employee, the company puts claimants in good hands by making it “so expensive and time consuming that the lawyers would start refusing to help clients.”

Not this lawyer. I routinely fight Allstate and other major insurance companies in court on behalf of my clients and will continue to do so in the future. If a person is in a collision and the greater weight of the evidence shows that they were injured in that collision, this ambulance chaser believes that they should be able to recover for what they have lost through the fault of someone else. Is that really that frivolous?

Sources: CNN and the author’s own experience in litigating personal injury claims.
Disclaimer: The views of the author are his own. It is your right to disagree with them.

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