I hate to break it to you, but despite all the cute auto insurance ads on TV, insurance companies are not “nice guys”. At least not if you were injured through the negligence of their insured. You have to understand this very important fact right from the get-go: In personal injury litigation, insurance companies are not your friend. They are not a “good neighbor”. They are not a cute little lizard. They are not “by your side”. You are not in “good hands” with them. They are a business. Their business is to pay you as little as possible on your claim so they can yield a bigger profit.
Case in point: Last week I settled a case for a woman who fell off a horse at a local riding stable during a riding lesson in upstate New York (near Syracuse). It was her first time on a horse. The saddle spun around while she tried to mount, throwing her to the ground, where she suffered a serious femur fracture. Turns out she weighed more than the saddle setup could handle. The stable owners knew it, but failed to warn her. Here was the original position the insurance company took (you need to click the image to read it):
After we got that letter, we sued the stable owners. We then took the deposition testimony of the owners and witnesses. The insurance company lawyers then asked the trial judge to toss out our case because our client had “assumed the risk” of horse riding lessons, and had signed the waiver. The trial judge dismissed our case. We then appealed to the appellate court in Rochester, New York, got the trial judge reversed, and the case reinstated. Last week, at a mediation, we settled the case for $130,000, which by the way was the amount of money we always thought the case was worth.