Parties involved in a car accident case need to act reasonably or they risk paying a steep price, says Philadelphia car accident lawyer Rand Spear.
When both parties act reasonably, personal injury cases can be settled fairly, says Philadelphia car accident lawyer Rand Spear. That requires both parties and their attorneys to look at the case objectively and work together to bring the case to a resolution. In a recent podcast Spear discusses a case where the insurance company decided to take a very hard line against an accident victim and paid the price as a result.
Spear says his client was driving a motor vehicle when it was read ended. She sustained injuries to her wrist and her back. She received medical treatment and physical therapy for about five months. The other driver was clearly at fault because the client was struck from behind.
“If you want to file a lawsuit for less than $50,000 it goes to arbitration, if it’s in excess of fifty thousand dollars it goes to a jury. Based on the length of treatment and that she had a pretty good recovery we felt that it was an arbitration case,” Spear says, “We went to arbitration and we got an award in the mid- $20,000 range which we thought was reasonable, but the defendant’s insurance company thought it was unreasonable and they filed an appeal.”
Spear says there are advantages to having a case resolved through arbitration instead of a jury trial. “It takes you several days to go in front of a jury. You have to pick the jury, make opening statements, put the doctor, client and any witnesses on the stand. In arbitration it only takes maybe an hour or two. It’s a much more streamlined way to present a case. You go in front of a panel of three arbitrators who listen to the case, look at the medical records and make a decision.”
In Philadelphia if an arbitration is appealed it becomes a jury trial. Spears says the case did go to a jury. “After several days the jury deliberated, made a determination and awarded my client $600,000. Of course we were surprised with the results because it was significantly more than we had gotten in arbitration,” says accident lawyer Spear.
He says juries see things differently than an arbitration panel but the outcome was still a surprise. “The insurance company appealed an award in the mid-$20,000 range and now they’re stuck with a $600,000 judgment against their insured.”
“I think the key is to be reasonable. Make a reasonable demand. Don’t look for pie in the sky. This is not a lottery. Just be reasonable and fair and things should work out. When my client is totally unreasonable or the insurance company is totally unreasonable that throws a monkey wrench into the process. Oftentimes the case cannot be settled and ends up in front of the jury,” Spear says.
He says a jury trial is a gamble that relies on people the parties don’t know. “It’s always better when the lawyers are involved, everyone’s reasonable and you come to a reasonable resolution and then that’s the end of the case.”
If you or a family member suffered an injury due to a vehicle accident, Philadelphia car accident lawyer Rand Spear is available to help those living in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. His phone number is 888-373-4LAW.