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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
Attorney • (800) 770-7008

When Is Your Case Worth $500.00?

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When Is Your Case Worth $500.00? The answer for a person in a car collision in Minnesota is almost never. There are cases that are worth nothing and there are cases that are worth substantially more. Despite that, I regularly meet with potential clients who have been offered that amount, people who will tell me that their passenger just settled for that amount that very week, and with parents who have settled cases for their children for that total.

It amazes me, but for the insurance company it’s a way to get out of liability and to close the file. They know that there is a percentage of people who really need money, so they will prey on that group. In these economic times, it would be interesting to know how often this happens.

There are a number of points to consider:

- For a minor, there is no way that they can settle the case without Judicial approval. I’ve seen companies try to get around this, but it’s the law.

- When the settlement discussions are going on, how does the adjuster not reach the point of practicing law? Are there questions about: if the person needs a lawyer, about the value of the case, or discussions about fault? All of these get very close to giving out legal advice. I do it and I need to follow up with information on the statute of limitations. The non lawyer does it and they are breaking the law.

- Most car collisions involve the tort thresholds in Minnesota. Basically, you need to have $4000 in medical expenses, a permanent injury or 60 days loss of enjoyment of life. You meet one of those and you have a claim for pain and suffering. You don’t and you have no claim other than the bills and your property damage. I look at the $500.00 offer this way. If you meet a threshold and have a permanent injury, is there any way that is worth $500.00? If you don’t , well what did you really lose by waiting and making sure?

- Most of these settlements are quick. They take place within days or weeks of the collision. While some cases can be evaluated at that time, usually it takes time to get a full view of your injuries and to also get through a year’s cycle. Is there something that you do in the winter or summer that will cause you problems? It’s worth waiting to make sure you can play softball or snow mobile without problems.

Fellow Injuryboard member, Steve Lombardi hit the issue right on point with the following:

Insurance adjuster talk to those filing claims for two reasons and only two reasons – and I can prove it. Here are their reasons for wanting to talk to you.

1. To see if they can get you to say something that gives them a reason to deny your claim.

2. Or, to see if they can get you to say something that allows them to pay you less than the law reasonably requires.

Here let me prove I’m right. If I’m wrong you should be able to recall one time an adjuster said something similar to this.

Name one adjuster, who has ever said to someone filing a claim,

Adjuster: How much do you want to settle your claim?

Mr. or Mrs. Injured Person:Well, how about a $1,000.00 for the pain and suffering?”

Adjuster:No I can’t pay you that much, it wouldn’t be fair. You’re entitled to more than what you’ve asked me to pay you. How about if I pay you more than you asked for, would you accept more?”

It’s always worth talking to a personal injury attorney to make sure you are aware of all of your rights. If the offer is fair, we will tell you. We also can give you lawful legal advice and answer your questions.