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John shares how an insurance company evaluates your case

By Beth Gibson on April 14, 2019

Virginia is a “fault” state after a car crash, which means the person at-fault for the accident needs to pay for the costs of the accident. In a car accident claim, you’re usually going to be seeking compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.

In this interview, John Singleton, partner at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, explains how an insurance company decides whether to fight a claim, and how hard they are willing to fight.

How do insurance companies view a case?

John: “Insurance companies evaluate a case in two different ways. They have two pockets of money. One pocket is for how much money it will cost them to settle the case, or what’s it going to cost to pay the verdict if the case goes to trial. That’s called a ‘reserve.’ The other pocket of money is for how much it’s going to cost them to defend the case.

“In the average soft-tissue injury car accident case, they’re going to put $15,000 down as ‘this is the total defense cost.’ That means how much they are expecting it to cost if the case goes all the way through to trial. In the reserve pocket, they’re going to start at $1,000. They will use the $15,000 for things like hiring a doctor to review the medical records, or maybe hiring a doctor to examine you.

Note: In your time of crisis, a big national insurance company probably isn’t worried about helping you. Even if your local adjuster is, it’s easy for an insurance company to take advantage of you. Accepting a quick settlement for a smaller sum may seem convenient—after all, you want to close this chapter of your life quickly and move forward—but many unexpected medical problems can arise after someone has settled a car accident claim. You won’t be able to ask for more money later. That’s why talking to a personal injury lawyer first will only benefit you.

Then how can an individual like me possibly afford to stand up against a big, wealthy insurance company?

John: “Our firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are not asking you for any money upfront. In fact, we pay all the upfront expenses for you. We pay for the crash report; we pay to get your medical records and bills from the hospital. We pay the filing fee, which is a couple of hundred dollars. We pay for the court reporters to come and record transcripts for depositions in any serious case that goes to trial.

“You can bet that in any case that goes to trial — a case where we’ve got two, three, four doctors, and maybe three or four fact witnesses involved, — we’re going to spend $10,000 to $12,000 just to get ready for trial. We might create exhibits, make videos, and hire expert witnesses. We may hire accident reconstructionists. They’re about a thousand dollars an hour, but they can do some amazing work, and they can be very beneficial in a case. But again, these costs are not your problem—they’re our problem. It’s a problem we’ve accepted, because it shows that we’ve got skin in the game — that we’re committed to the case. If a lawyer’s not prepared to spend money on your case, then you probably need a different lawyer.”

Note: If you have a good personal injury lawyer, you will almost certainly get more money for your claim, according to Injured victims represented by an attorney receive about 3.5 times more in settlement than their unrepresented counterparts, and 85 percent of everything insurance companies pay is to people who have an attorney. (Insurance Research Council, 1999 study (archived)

If you’ve been injured in a car wreck in Gloucester, Mathews, or Middlesex, you don’t need to be wealthy to hire an experienced attorney to handle your case. GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys will take your case with no upfront cost to you. To find out more about your legal rights and options, call us for a free case evaluation at (804) 413-6777.

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Community service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.