Periodically, an insurance adjuster tells us that they are making a “nuisance offer” on a case. A “nuisance offer” means that the insurance company has analyzed the injuries and losses suffered by a client and decided that dealing with such a “small case” isn’t worth its time. The insurance company’s adjuster then makes an insultingly low offer and acts shocked – Shocked! – when we don’t accept.
A couple of weeks ago, Allen and Stacie tried a case that one insurance company had labeled as a nuisance. The client was driving home from work in 2009 when the driver of an oncoming car attempted an improper left turn directly in front of him. Our client t-boned the other car at about 55 mph. The crash was so severe that our client’s vehicle flipped twice and came to a rest on its roof in the ditch. He was left hanging upside down, suspended by his seatbelt, as his cab filled with smoke. Although he was seriously injured, he fought his way out of the vehicle, thinking that at any moment it could erupt in flames.
At the hospital following the crash, our client’s doctors were worried that his back was broken and that he may have suffered damage to his heart and nervous system in the crash. Thankfully, his injuries were not life threatening. Thanks to significant medical treatment, he has been able to return to work. But he will never recover; he will suffer from stabbing back pains and limitations for the rest of his life because of this wreck.
The man who caused the wreck had insurance coverage with a limit of just $15,000, far less than our client’s medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. However, our client had purchased insurance coverage in the event of an accident caused by a person with low insurance coverage. This coverage, called UM/UIM coverage, is critically important if you are hit by an underinsured or uninsured driver.
We submitted a claim for UM/UIM coverage to our client’s own insurance carrier. The insurer then promised that it would review the records, bills, and other proof of the client’s losses and injuries. Eventually the insurance company got back to us and informed us that it was ready to make an offer. The offer? Zero dollars. The insurance company had decided that our client had a “nuisance claim.”
Remember, this was our client’s own insurance company. The company had promised to protect him,and had accepted his insurance premiums for years. But when our client needed his insurance company to provide the coverage that he had paid for, they concluded that his damages and life-long injuries were nothing more than nuisances. They decided that he was a nuisance.
We didn’t think that our client was a nuisance; we thought he was a person, a person who had been injured through no fault of his own. So we sued the insurance company.
Throughout the months and months of ensuing litigation, the insurance company never once offered a single penny on our client’s claim. Every few weeks, though, the adjuster would call Allen. “Mr. Schulman, I’m calling to see if you’d like to settle this case,” she’d say.
Allen would then explain that he was willing to take any offer to out client. “What’s the offer?” he’d ask.
“Nothing,” was the inevitable reply. Sometimes she reminded him, again, that our client’s claim had nothing but nuisance value. Finally, Allen asked her to stop calling unless she had an actual offer to make.
We don’t think that injured people are nuisances, no matter what the insurance companies say. And so, earlier this year Allen and Stacie took this case to trial. A jury got to hear from the client’s doctor, and from a doctor hired by the insurance company. It also heard the client’s testimony, and got copies of all his bills and records. Then it was up to the jury to decide whether our client was a nuisance.
After less than two hours out, the jury came back. The verdict? $139,000.00.
Everyone knows that past performance cannot guarantee future successes in a personal injury case. But in this case, our client would have recovered nothing from his insurance company if he’d taken its “nuisance” offer.
That’s what you’re up against if you’re injured in a car crash in Ohio. It’s not just the other guy’s insurance company that you have to watch out for. It’s an unfortunate truth, but a truth just the same: sometimes it’s your own insurance company that views your life, your injuries, its promises to you, as nothing but a nuisance. And if that day comes, we hope you’ll consider giving us a call.
by Jeffery Lookabaugh