Some people will not call us for a free consultation because they feel that as soon as they sign up with an attorney they have to sue the other side. This is simply untrue, though at times litigation is necessary. So the short answer, “Usually NO.”
“Suing” someone means filing a law suit and involving the court system. Every day we hear someone say “I’m going to sue you”, but most cases are actually settled directly with the insurance company without involving the courts at all. These “presuit settlements” allow both sides to resolve a potential case relatively quickly.
At Cutler Rader, before a case is ever filed we undertake an extensive investigation of the case. We gather information about how an injury happened, what the medical records show, what police or other investigative reports show and incorporate them all into a comprehensive “Demand.” A “Demand” is a certified letter to the insurance company describing what happened, the extent of the injuries, and why we believe that the insurance company should pay for the damages. The insurance company will then undertake its own investigation, and usually will make a settlement offer to resolve the case. That settlement offer, which is almost always well below the true value of the case, is a start-off point for a negotiation that takes place between our office (with your input, of course) and the insurance company. In most cases, there’s a back and forth and eventually, through tenacious and tough negotiation, we obtain what we believe is a fair value for the case. The case is settled, over and everyone goes their own ways. No one gets sued.
Sometimes, however, we feel we must use a sledgehammer to fight for the results our clients deserve. When the insurance company refuses to pay the fair value on a case that is suitable for litigation, we discuss the impasse with our client and, with the client’s permission, often decide to file a law suit. This allows us to exert the full weight of the legal system on the stubborn insurance company, including the power of subpoenas, depositions and other discovery weapons. Rarely, we even have to go to trial, in which we fight to take the money the insurance company will not give willingly.
In our experience, insurance companies try harder to settle those cases where they know the plaintiff’s attorney is willing to go to trial. Bullies don’t mess with people who fight back, and we fight back. So, we believe that we are able to get better settlements without suing because the insurance companies know that we are fighters and would rather save their resources for attorneys who do not have formidable records of experience and results.
President Theodore Roosevelt said “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” And so it is with us. We don’t usually have to sue, but when necessary we always have the big stick of litigation.