Deny, Delay, and Defend
The American Association For Justice has released a report on the top ten worst insurance companies in America. This is a fairly long document but worth a read, especially if you are insured by one of these companies. I have had several cases against persons insured by State Farm and Allstate. Allstate in particular gives offers that are low and refuses to negotiate hoping that the Plaintiff will give up. This is an open secret in the legal community, but occasionally you can make them pay. In North Carolina, if a judgment is reached against a Defendant in a personal injury or property damage suit, the judge can find that there was an unwarranted refusal by an insurance company to pay the claim and award attorney's fees. (This is a rare exception to the general rule in North Carolina that attorney's fees are NOT recoverable). The judges all know about insurance companies' delay tactics and will not hesitate to award fees if they can. I have brought a case to trial where there was no question as to the Defendant's negligence or my client's $3500 medical bills, but Allstate only offered $1000 in settlement. I won the case at trial and the judge awarded me all my attorney fees. Unfortunately, even with this rule, it is usually too much of a risk for an attorney to take a case all the way to jury verdict and have to recover attorney fees to make it cost effective for the injured person or their attorney. Aside from my client, who was injured through no fault of her own and still had to take two days off from work to sit in trial with me, I was sympathetic to the Defendant. She also had to miss work and attend two days of a public trial when she had all but admitted she was at fault and was sorry it occurred. I'm certain that if she had control over her own defense, rather than Allstate, the matter would have been resolved much faster and cheaper. Was Allstate looking after her best interests? No.
–Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC who specializes in Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Contract and Real Estate disputes and all forms of Civil Litigation. Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.