From Zero to $325,000 in Six Months
On August 28, 2009, an over-the-road truck driver was exiting the highway when he failed to stop in time for traffic that was backed up on the merger ramp. The truck driver rear-ended a mini-van. Our client was the driver of that mini-van. He was trapped inside the wreckage and had to be freed through the use of hydraulic power equipment.
Our client was taken to the local hospital, where he was diagnosed with a midshaft femur fracture. The fracture was surgically repaired with a rod and five pins. Although the doctors did great work, it was a difficult recovery for our client, who missed work and incurred significant medical costs.
The insurance company for the truck driver contacted our client almost immediately. Don’t worry, they said. We’ll make it right, they said. You won’t need a lawyer, they told him. Just give us authorizations to collect medical records and we’ll pay you what we owe you.
Our client gave them all the information they wanted. He waited. He didn’t have any savings. His rent was overdue. He had medical bill collectors calling. He called the insurance company. “You promised me an offer, when’s it coming?” he asked. Soon, he was promised. Be patient, we’re just collecting records and evaluating the case. We’ll have something for you soon.
He waited. Still no offer. He called the insurance company. Don’t worry, they told him. We need just another two weeks. We’ll have an offer for you then.
He called us. He came in to discuss his case. He didn’t want to hire a lawyer yet, he said. He just wanted us to give him an idea of what his case was worth so that he could know whether he was being treated fairly. We told him what we thought and we also told him that we were pretty sure he’d be back. We didn’t think he’d get a fair offer.
We couldn’t have been more right. Not only did he not get a fair offer, he didn’t get any offer. He kept trying to get the trucker’s insurance company to make the offer they’d promised him. For four months after they’d promised they’d have an offer in two weeks, he kept after them. He practically begged them to make him an offer. They kept stringing him along.
Finally, in April of this year, he came back to us. He was beaten. He was about to be evicted because he was behind on his rent and hadn’t yet returned to work. He needed help. We were able to get him some help with a small short-term advance on his case through an advanced funding company. And then we set to work on winning his case for him.
The insurance company for the trucker acted as though they had to start an investigation of the case. They needed more records they said. They needed to investigate his medical background. They needed to investigate his claims of lost wages. Fair enough, we thought. But it was obvious to us that they had no intention of making an offer to him anytime soon. The two-week promise was just a stall tactic, as had been everything else they’d told him.
Ultimately, we resolved the case fairly in October* of this year. The reality is that the accident victim would still be waiting if he hadn’t gotten an experienced Erie injury lawyer involved. We were glad to have helped.
*Six months and $325,000? How much work could we have done? Well, the truth is that we worked the case pretty hard for those six months. We also structure our fee agreements so that the client pays a lower fee if the case settles early than they would if the case settles later, after litigation has begun or even after trial has started. In this case, our client got the benefit of our client-friendly structured fee agreement and paid a much lower percentage than many lawyers charge as a standard contingent fee. Just another way that we try to be fair and helpful to our injured clients.