Our client, AP, was referred to us by a former client who we had represented in a car accident. One day, AP was sitting at a red light in Cobb County, Georgia waiting to turn left. The light turned green. Two or three cars in front of AP turned left without a problem. As AP proceeded through the intersection, he saw something coming from his left out of the corner of his eye. It was a pick-up truck approaching at a high rate of speed without slowing down or stopping for the red light. The truck hit AP’s Toyota Corolla hard on the driver’s side. The airbags deployed in AP’s car. When his car came to a rest, he was disoriented.
The negligent driver who ran the red light was a cable contractor and was working for the company at the time of the wreck. When police responded to the scene, they found that the driver was driving on a suspended license. The police also found that the driver was at fault for running a red light. As a result, the police issued citations to the driver for failing to obey a traffic light and driving on a suspended license.
AP had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance where he reported pain in his back and neck. In the weeks and months that followed, AP went to multiple doctor’s appointments and physical therapy visits. AP’s physical injuries were painful. But those injuries only told part of the story. Because of the way the crash happened and how serious it was, AP was experiencing severe anxiety. Driving made him nervous and anxious, and even when he was not driving he would think about the crash. AP started to seek counseling. He was ultimately diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and given anxiety medication to help him cope with the symptoms.
Liberty Mutual Refuses to Offer a Fair Settlement
Liberty Mutual was the insurance company for the cable contractor. Like many auto insurance companies, Liberty Mutual is known for not offering fair settlements, particularly early in cases. When our client was done with treatment, we sent a settlement demand. The demand included about $18,000 in medical bills and several thousand dollars in lost wages. We explained the injuries our client sustained, including the PTSD. Despite evidence that the claim was worth far more than the medical bills, Liberty Mutual refused to offer even the medical bills. Its first offer was only $12,000.
The Champion Firm Gets $75,000 After Suing
Shortly after Liberty Mutual sent its extremely low offer, we filed a lawsuit against the negligent driver and his company. While its insurance company would have gone up some without a lawsuit, the offer was so low we did not wait. Based on our experience with Liberty Mutual, we knew that we needed to file a lawsuit to get a fair settlement.
In the lawsuit, we sought damages for our client’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. The punitive damages and attorney’s fees claims were based primarily on the fact that the driver was operating the truck with a suspended license. Liberty Mutual responded to the lawsuit and tried to get the case settled by increasing its offer to $20,000. We explained to them this was still extremely low and would not be accepted.
As we proceeded through the discovery process and got documents and scheduled depositions they increased their offer to $30,000. This was still not enough. Then they went to $50,000, and then $60,000. Again, we told them this was not enough. We explained that our client’s mental and emotional injuries were real and significant. We also argued that we would get punitive damages.
After months of litigation, Liberty Mutual agreed to settle the case for $75,000. This was more than six times the insurance company’s initial offer. This case highlights the importance of having a lawyer who will fight for you and not just accept the insurance company’s first offer. Unfortunately, there are a lot of lawyers and law firms that just try to get the case settled quickly. Many of these law firms, known as settlement mills, advertise heavily on TV, billboards, and radio. Their goal is to take the path of least resistance and make money with as little effort as possible. At The Champion Firm, we take each case seriously and represent clients the way we would want to be represented. We are not afraid to do the work necessary to ensure that our clients get the best possible results.