It's a constant battle. First, it was the Made Whole rule. Then, it was the Collateral Source Rule. Now, it's the Offer of Judgment. State Farm and all of the insurance companies continue to fight to lower their rate of paying claims. Injured? Who Cares! Have to take time to go to the doctor? Who Cares! Have to go to Physical Therapy? Who Cares! Worried about future medical problems? Who Cares! Paid your premiums and don't want to go to court? Who Cares!
You will care if it's you, but the insurance companies won't care. They will do and say anything to make light of your injury claim. The damage to the car was minimal (my father says, "The noose that hangs a man doesn't show any damage either"). You have had a history of back and neck problems so the wreck didn't cause your problems. You have filed claims previously. You are looking for something for nothing and trying to profit off a wreck.
NOW, they are filing offers of Judgment to force the injured person to settle. This would be fair if it worked both ways, but it doesn't. For example, if you are in a wreck and injured, you may have $2,000 in medical bills. Let's say you ask for $7,500 for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. If State Farm files an offer of judgment for $4,000, and you refuse to accept it, you have to pay their expenses if you do not receive a verdict over $4,000. However, the opposite is not true. If you receive a verdict over $4,000, they do not have to pay your expenses, AND you CANNOT file an offer of Judgment for $7,500 and make them pay your expenses if you get a verdict over that amount.
Shouldn't these rules go both ways? Why do the insurance companies get all the leverage? Because they lobby for certain Judges and Legislators, and you don't. We, as attorneys, try to protect your rights as individuals, but we are losing the battle. It's up to you to contact your legislators to make changes. It's up to you when you are sitting on a jury to FULLY understand what is going on because we usually cannot tell you under the rules.
Here is the OFFER OF JUDGMENT Rule of Civil Procedure:
Offer of judgment.
At any time more than fifteen (15) days before the trial begins, a party defending against a claim may serve upon the adverse party an offer to allow judgment to be taken against the defending party for the money or property or to the effect specified in the offer, with costs then accrued. If within ten (10) days after the service of the offer, the adverse party serves written notice that the offer is accepted, either party may then file the offer and notice of acceptance together with proof of service thereof and thereupon the clerk shall enter judgment. An offer not accepted shall be deemed withdrawn and evidence thereof is not admissible except in a proceeding to determine costs. If the judgment finally obtained by the offeree is not more favorable than the offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the making of the offer. The fact that an offer is made but not accepted does not preclude a subsequent offer. When the liability of one party to another has been determined by verdict or order or judgment, but the amount or extent of the liability remains to be determined by further proceedings, the party adjudged liable may make an offer of judgment, which shall have the same effect as an offer made before trial if it is served within a reasonable time, not less than ten (10) days, prior to the commencement of hearings to determine the amount or extent of liability.
In my recent case, my client was rearended. it is CLEAR the other person is at fault for the wreck. The only thing that is unclear is what would fair compensation be. She has over $5,000 of medical bills she owes, and here is the offer of Judgment the Defendant filed, and here is the letter sent by the attorneys (Take the offer in ten days, or it's off the table). My client claims she was injured in the wreck, and doctors treated her for the same. She is not looking for millions of dollars. She is looking to be compensated appropriately so that she can have her bills paid, pay her attorney, and have something left over for pain and suffering. What figure is that? $15,000? $20,000? It certainly isn't $8,000. But, if a jury does not give a verdict over $8,000, she will be responsible for the defendant's expenses, and given the verdicts over the last 10 years, that is a real possibility. So, can she risk it? Maybe. But it's added pressure. Why can our client not add pressure to State Farm?
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