Don’t Give in to Insurance Companies Just to Get A Case Settled
In the world of Personal Injury litigation, the facts surrounding some cases border on the unbelievable. Oftentimes, those unbelievable facts result in tragic consequences for families. In other circumstances, facts are hard to believe, the case involves injuries but the affected individual is otherwise intact. The case we are going to discuss today involves the latter.
A couple of years ago, I represented the parents of Janie, a 2-year-old little girl and Jack, a 3-year-old little boy. In this case, Janie was injured at an air show. Those facts by themselves don’t raise eyebrows; it is the remaining information that borderlines on the unbelievable. In our case, as the parents were walking back to their car following a day at the air show, they stopped to observe a couple of helicopters that were part of the show.
As the family stood in the area designated for air show attendees with their two kids in separate strollers, the helicopter began flying closer to the family and the other spectators. Ultimately the helicopter stopped approaching the viewing area, but it was too late. As the helicopter hovered, the downwash from the helicopter lifted BOTH of my clients’ kids’ strollers up into the air. To my clients’ horror, both strollers were lifted above their heads and flew approximately 20 feet in the air behind them until both strollers came crashing to the floor. Fortunately for Jack, his stroller landed with his body facing the sky and he was relatively unscathed. The same cannot be said for Janie who crashed body first into the floor and suffered significant cuts and wounds throughout her body. Amazingly, she did not suffer any broken bones or life-threatening injuries.
After signing up the case and meeting with the parents, it was obvious to me that the air show and/or the helicopter pilot were completely at fault. Of course, the insurance companies did not see it that way and attempted to place at least some of the blame on the parents. This is because insurance companies do not do the correct thing unless they are forced to do so. As a parent to two young children myself, I found the insinuation from the insurance companies insulting that Janie’s parents did anything wrong. The parents were in the exact place they were supposed to be watching the exact aircraft put on by the air show. It was an open and shut case from a liability perspective as far as I was concerned.
As we have outlined before, JB Law prepares every case for trial, seeks out every conceivable piece of evidence and aggressively pursues their cases. This case was a little different in that our client was 2 years old and engaging in prolonged litigation with such a young client presents challenges different than representing an adult. So, we pursued an aggressive but reasonable strategy of pushing the case hard in pre-suit while letting the insurance companies know that we were not accepting anything less than full value for our client and would be willing to litigate the case if needed.
After our client recovered from her injuries and it was time to send a Demand Package, we prepared a thorough package including all possible arguments as to why the air show/helicopter was at fault along with information related to our client’s injuries both physical and emotional. In response to our Demand Package, the insurance company proposed dividing the fault between the air show/helicopter and Janie’s parents thereby reducing the amount of money that we could recover for Janie. In response to such a ridiculous proposition, JB Law sent over a proposed Complaint that we would file in Circuit Court to initiate litigation if they ever again suggested that Janie’s parents had any role in her injuries. The insurance companies must have gotten our message because they immediately suggested that we schedule a pre-suit mediation in hopes of getting the case settled. We agreed.
At mediation, the insurance companies negotiated in good faith and ultimately paid a substantial amount of money to resolve the case. It is hard to predict but it is likely that they ended up paying more than they would have had they never taken the unreasonable position that Janie’s parents were somehow partially at fault for the accident. That insulting argument inspired JB Law and his clients to dig in their heels and strongly consider litigation which was not something the air show/helicopter company wanted.
This was another example of how JB Law stayed true to its case value evaluations and did not give in to insurance companies just to get a case settled. While our options were slightly more limited than usual with such a young client who could not really speak for herself, we took advantage of that youth in our arguments by showing that she had been through a very difficult situation which is something that a potential jury could relate to.