Confessions of a Former Insurance Adjuster: Skilled Attorneys Make a Difference

A lawyer in a blue suit smiling in a room with other attorneys around a table.

This blog is part of a multi-part series resulting from an interview with a former insurance adjuster. While we cannot reveal that person’s identity, we can share their perspective. Information that might compromise their identity has been redacted. None of the cases discussed below were handled by our firm. We expected some of what we heard. We were surprised by the rest.

Q: Were there cases where you remember an attorney having a very positive impact for the injured person?

A traffic light with a green question mark in the place of the green light.

A: A few come to mind. I served in multiple capacities in my time in the insurance industry.

Case #1: The Impossible Arrow

“I remember mediating a litigated case in █████. Our insured was operating a cargo/delivery van and claimed to make a left turn on a green turn arrow. The plaintiff was on a motorcycle approaching from the opposite direction and had a solid green. The plaintiff realized the van was turning and laid the bike down but didn’t contact the van.

We were at mediation and plaintiff’s attorney presented traffic diagrams from the city that showed it was impossible for the van to have had a green turn arrow, conflicting with our insured’s deposition testimony and defeating any of our liability arguments. I think we ended up paying $50k more than we expected.”

The James Scott Farrin Takeaway

Conflicting accounts of car accidents are relatively common. A skilled attorney knows that it is crucial to gather as much evidence as possible as quickly as possible in trying to avoid this kind of situation. At our firm, we have an entire department dedicated to fact-finding and evidence gathering. They’ve found bank camera recordings of nearby crashes, tracked down witnesses, and given our clients the leverage they needed to resolve their cases successfully.1

Case #2: Damning Circumstances

Photos of beer, a car & a man on polaroid film.

“I had a case in a beachy/tourist town on the coast. The initial report was that the accident was a hit and run. The plaintiff was on his way to work in the very early hours of the morning when he was struck.

Our insured had an adult son listed on her policy who had a pretty lengthy criminal history and █████ required disclosure of insurance policy info, so the plaintiff’s attorney was able to find out who he was. The attorney went to our insured’s residence and took photos of the involved vehicle in the driveway, showing significant damage to it. He also tracked down witnesses that would testify that our insured driver had been drinking heavily in the hours before the crash. Our insured also never filed a claim for damages to their car and, if I recall, sold it without repairing it.

By collecting this info upfront, the attorney was able to show a much more significant DUI/hit-and-run accident than the photos of his client’s truck alone seemed to show. It was a good workup on his part and we paid significantly more than we would have if the attorney had just used the police report alone as his evidence.”

The James Scott Farrin Takeaway

There’s a difference between criminal law and the law in personal injury cases. When our firm is fighting for a client, we’re not trying to convict a person of injuring you. We’re trying to build a case that they’re at fault. The stronger the case, the more likely an insurance company is going to pay out, and if necessary, the more likely a jury is going to side with you in court. Circumstantial evidence that paints an unflattering picture of the insured person or their behavior can be incredibly useful – if you have an attorney who knows how to find it and puts in the work.

Case #3: The Lawbreaking Cyclist

A biker crashing into a possibly liable van near a NO BICYCLES sign.

“I had a claim in █████ where a work van was pulling out of a jobsite parking lot with limited visibility on the sidewalk adjacent to the roadway. The van driver, our insured, pulled to the edge of the parking lot and was inching forward trying to obtain a better view and safely enter the roadway.

While he was doing so, he wasn’t looking at the sidewalk because it was not an area with heavy pedestrian travel. He totally missed that there was a cyclist on the sidewalk trying to pass in front of him. Unfortunately for the cyclist, there was also a break in traffic so our driver was pulling out at the same time.

We argued consistent with a statute and the driving handbook that the cyclist should have 1) been in the bike lane (which was clearly marked) and 2) should have been going with the flow of traffic, not against as they were on the sidewalk.

The cyclist’s attorney, however, tracked down another case in █████ with similar facts. In that case, a police officer struck a cyclist in a similar manner. A jury found for the cyclist even though the way they were traveling was against traffic laws in the area. Based on the ruling in that case, which we were not even aware of, the cyclist’s attorney got us to concede liability.”

The James Scott Farrin Takeaway

Fault is not always as clear as you think. Attorneys have to dig through case law in addition to knowing statutory law. What the law says can be interpreted, and how it is applied can vary depending on the circumstances of a case. This case was about creating leverage and showing the insurance company that they were fighting a losing battle.

A Note About Attorneys and Effective Negotiation

A smug business man propping his feet up on his desk.

“This is not really one story, but something learned over the years. One of the facets of a skilled attorney that can be crucial is being an effective negotiator. Knowing how to calculate value and strategically share pieces of information at the right time to justify certain moves. In my experience, some insurance companies may increase how much they are willing to pay if you send in additional evidence at different points in the claim, and knowing how and when to do that is something that not everyone can do.

Attorneys that just send letters back and forth with a template demand or that just hold out at high values do a poor job, in my opinion. This is a common tactic and one that adjusters may not like because that sort of negotiation may not be at a realistic value or based on the merits of the case – when I dealt with those attorneys, I was a lot tighter in my negotiations and would often hold out on a lower value.”

The James Scott Farrin Takeaway

Knowing the law is just the start. Skilled advocates know the processes, how to use information, how to time demands, and how to leverage evidence to help clients seek maximum compensation. A skilled attorney isn’t just pushing paper. They’re trying to direct the right information, the right way, at the right time to create negotiating leverage.

You Want an Experienced Attorney

The big picture we’ve learned in our discussion with a former insurance adjuster is that your attorney can make an enormous difference on how your case plays out. You want someone who investigates the details, researches the law, and is an effective negotiator.

Choosing your attorney may be the most important decision you make on your case. Do your research, and make sure you find the right attorney for you.

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