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THE ECONOMICS OF LIMITED TORT

Outside of our firms very few people can truly appreciate the heavy financial burden associated with pursuing personal injury claims.  Our clients very rarely understand the expense of pursuing their cases. Our lawmakers in Harrisburg are often in the dark about it.  And even insurance company adjustors, who have to work within litigation budgets every day, struggle to wraps their heads around the overhead of a plaintiffs’ injury firm.  But, we plaintiffs’ lawyers understand the economics of law all too well.  A successful injury case requires thorough underwriting and extensive financial investment, a risk that many aren’t willing to take. A risk that is exponentially higher in a limited tort case.

The old saying goes that “you have to spend money to make money.”  The same is true of a limited tort claim. You must spend money to force a full value settlement.  To the insurance companies, a pre-litigation demand package in a limited tort case is worth about as much as the piece of the paper it’s written on.  A recitation of facts with no platform of expensive litigation behind it, applies no pressure on an adjustor to loosen the purse strings.  There is no incentive to make a fair offer because there is no imminent threat to their pocketbooks.  A jury is the only one that can provide that threat.  And getting your case in front of a jury are expensive.

No limited tort case settles for full value presuit.  “Serious impairment” is an arduous standard and the carriers know it.  It’s an easy out for the adjustors. That’s why so many, if not all, limited tort presuit demands are met with rubber stamped denials.  Adjustors are betting on you to avoid expensive litigation and cut bait before they have to pay.  So, you must file suit.  At the very least, a major jury complaint forces the adjustor to wake up, pick the file up and blow off the dust.  The only reason for a carrier to offer real money in a limited tort case is the fear of twelve (12) jurors hitting them where it hurts: the pocketbook.  Now you’ve got their attention.

So you’ve spent money to file suit.  But you’re just getting started.  The cost of a Major Jury Complaint is only the first step along the path to a jury.  You can’t simply sit back and wait for the trial call.  It’s time to get to work. You, not the insurance companies or defense counsel, control the litigation. Take it upon yourself to investigate, find and depose witnesses. Seek out the right experts.  Interrogate the defendant and subpoena everything you can under the sun to give you a leg up at trial. Spare no expense in discovery. Now is not the time to jump over dollars to save pennies. Now is the time to show the carrier that you are willing to take your case the distance.

The final step is going to be the most expensive.  But, it’s the real breaking point for your limited tort case. Video your doctor.  You’ve come this far and you’ve expended tremendous costs. Don’t cut bait now because you think the Doctor video is too expensive.  Without your expert testimony, every cent you’ve spent and every hour you’ve worked on the case was all for naught.  With your doctor in the proverbial “can”, you are trial ready and in the strongest possible position.  Your money is all spent. There is nothing more you can do but walk into the Courtroom and do what you do best.  You’ve made it to the jury. It’s up to the insurance company now to decide if it’s ready to face the ultimate consequence.

In all of this, the most expensive investment is that of your, your lawyers’ and your staff’s time.  Limited tort cases aren’t successful on their own accord.  It takes hours and hours of good lawyers, paralegals and support staff immersing themselves in the pursuit of justice for their client.  It’s not a job for the nine-to-fiver nor the faint of heart.  That type of sacrifice and investment does not come cheap. The expense of operating a firm to handle, and succeed, in a limited tort case is greater than any case cost.  But a litigation team that can take a limited tort case the distance is unique and valuable.  To succeed in a limited tort case, you must understand the economics of these cases and accept the risk involved.

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