Attorney Patrick Daniel was recently interview by Law.com for their “Texas Takeaways” newsletter. The topic was dealing with insurance companies when insurance companies withhold money and play “chicken” until the last possible moment before settlings.
Highlights from this interview are featured below.
What It Means For You (If You’re a Personal Injury Attorney)
Patrick Daniel, a plaintiffs personal injury attorney in Houston, and the founder and principal of Patrick Daniel Law, said that for insurance companies, it always comes down to the time value of money.
“I think that’s the way they all evaluate things,” Daniel said. “You walk into a case knowing that as soon as you file suit you’ve got 24 months of waiting, irrespective of what you do…”
“I was told a long time ago that you are never going to get recovery until you get a trial date because there has to be an end in sight,” he added.
And the rise nuclear verdicts may actually be making it harder for plaintiffs attorneys and their clients to get paid in a timely manner.
The mentality of insurance companies is worse when verdicts are trending higher, Daniel said, because it gives them cover to try to outlast the plaintiff by filing endless appeals while maintaining the appearance that they’re simply trying to protect themselves.
What You Should Do
Work harder than your opponent. “Outwork, outperform and outlast, that’s what it really is.” Make sure you’re financially equipped to litigate the case.
“The cost to finance big-ticket litigation has been the biggest change over the last 10 years–it’s skyrocketed to between 200% and 500%. What was once a $75,000 surgery is now a $175,000 surgery. You get no relief, and the problem now is your own experts have become more astute in how to play the game. They understand that they’re indispensable…so they come in and raise their rates to what attorneys command–$500, $600 and $700 an hour, and you see doctors asking for $3,000 to $5,000 for a deposition. It’s astonishing, but that’s the way it goes now if you want to have somebody to be an advocate for your client. The problem is the good ones know that they’re good and know what their worth is.”
Questions You Should Be Asking (as a Plaintiffs Lawyer)
When is the last time you tried a case? Are you willing to go to court?
“I always tell my clients their case is for sale, it’s not on sale. The thing is, I don’t think a lot of attorneys remember that.When you are dealing with a complex case you have to be extremely specific about how you handle things.”