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Having worked for Liberty Mutual in the late 2000s my answer back then would have been, “a fair one.” Liberty used to do a fairly good job evaluating claims, knowing the difference between a case that had significant value and generic soft tissue rear-end impact cases.
Times have changed, however; for rear-end collisions involving over $1,500 in repairs or cases where it looks like the car took a good hit, they are coming in low on values. For example where once upon a time and emergency room visit followed by chiropractic care with medical bills totaling $5-6,000 you might have seen an offer of around $8-9,000, now you are seeing $5-6,000.00 offers. Now with low-end attorneys that do “the old three-way split (with the Doctors getting a third, the lawyers a third and the client a third) that may be all the client can expect and Liberty knows that, but it is not the right thing to do for good impact cases. Good impact cases with soft tissue injuries still return over $10,000 dollars with $5,000 or so in medical bills. Whether this is the result of an adoption of the Allstate/State Farm model of litigating most soft tissue cases unless they can be settled on the cheap or their own creation, who knows.
My real beef with them comes in their inability to distinguish between chiropractic based cases (which come in great numbers through the mill TV law firms) and cases with normal people who have soft tissue treatment through their own Primary care doctors and prescribed physical therapy. The first category is often a puffed up claim, the second category is real. Just as much as there should be a punishment for BS claims cooked up by the lawyer and the client, there should be a corresponding award for people who play by the rules and treat conservatively. By way of example, we tried a case to jury verdict for a client in April 2011 where the client had $5,000 in ER, primary care and physical therapy. Allstate offered $6,000.00. The jury awarded $11,5000. Juries understand the difference between a shakedown and a real injury claim.
At the higher end of things, Liberty is litigating every case. They got stomped on to the tune of $3.2 million on a premises liability slip and fall case in 2011 and paid significantly over their policy limits on two other missed policy limits demands. There are good people working there, but the upstream management is draconian in the discretion they dole out to the adjusters.
I realize that insurance companies want to encourage a policy of deterrence but it should not to the detriment of decent, reasonable victims who just want to be treated fairly. There is no one size fits all solution to adjusting and my wish for the industry is a return of latitude for individual adjusters and more deference to defense counsel and their opinions.
To answer the original questions, you should expect Liberty Mutual’s offer to be 40-60% below true jury value for legitimate cases unless you have already filed the lawsuit, conducted discovery, taken depositions and are preparing for trial. At that point, you can expect an offer around 20-25% below jury value and then it is just up to you as to whether you want to roll the dice.
The bottom line is, do not expect to get a decent offer pre-suit unless there is a real threat that the case will punch through policy limits. Allow your lawyer to file suit only if the difference between their estimate on pre-suit and post-suit value makes sense. Remember, Liberty and the Atlanta car accident attorney can afford the risk, you cannot.
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