Ok, in truth, I thought this was a cool sounding title for an article. In reality, sometimes you will have no choice but to accept "no" for answer. However, on average the number of attorneys that our clients talk to before they call us and we said "yes" is between 2 and 4. Is that because we have a lower standard for what cases we will take? - No. Is it because other attorneys don't always take the time to consider all of the possible ways to "skin a cat"? - Yes.
Thinking outside the conventional "box" made this firm what it is. Our staff solves problems. Now, that does not always mean that the case goes forward exactly as you might think. Sometimes, the path less traveled is best. Sometimes, the answer just requires a different perspective. The following two scenarios are examples of the many types of cases where many lawyers said "no" before we got a hold of it, and got a good, if not a great, outcome for our clients.
A) EMPLOYER / INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES WORK COMP BENEFITS
This happens all the time. A denial can come because the employer let his work comp coverage lapse, or when an employer has coverage, they claim that the particular injury "did not arise out of the course and scope of employment."
There are a couple ways to look at a situation like this. Most lawyers you call will take the knee-jerk reaction that the natural attack point is to directly confront this claim in the administrative work comp setting. And, often if you were to consult a one-dimensional thinker, that attorney, in considering taking your case will, mid-conversation, stop listening to you and commence a mental calculus as to whether given the work comp system, it would be worth his efforts and time to help you. Yes, surprisingly, as you are talking to that lawyer about a fall on the job site and injuries that you suffered, often all the lawyer is thinking about are the worker's comp criteria including how old you are and what your average weekly wage is. I am not asking you to judge the one-dimensional thinker, but simply understand where their troubled soul lives. When you hear "no" from that lawyer, do not stop your inquiry for legal help. Keep calling and talking to more and more lawyers.
How would we look at this sort of case? Perhaps from a completely different perspective. Well, first, an insurance company denying a claim for us can be a very exciting thing. Ok, well, exciting for us, perhaps. But, maybe the better legal word would be challenging or perhaps an opportunity.
Take the fall on the job example that the employer says is not work related. Say the injury is a knee injury requiring a surgery. If this were to simply be a work related work comp knee injury case, regardless of the severity, need for surgery or even extent of disability, it is sadly (and wrongly) worth very little in our work comp system. But, taking the denial by the employer, gives the injured client an opportunity to bring a direct, non-work comp, lawsuit against the negligent party that caused the injury, even if that is the employer.
After all, the employer/insurance company is saying it isn't work related. Under an admitted work comp claim, the sole means of recovery allowed under the law is the work comp system itself. This is not the case when there is a denial. Therefore, the need to limit ourselves to work comp benefits is unnecessary. Suddenly, we have a possible case in front of a jury in a district court trial setting.
Juries know the value of a disabled knee and surgeries. We love it when an insurance company in an effort to be clever, let's us reap the benefit for our client. A knee surgery in a non-work comp setting is very valuable. While, many would look at this simply as a less than worthwhile, we look at it as an opportunity to un-tie the limitations that work comp has on such a claim, take the short-sighted mistake of the insurance company or employer's denial and use it to elevate the case into a district court jury trial where the sky is the limit on recovery.
We have taken these cases under this situation, many times in the past. The results have, to memory, always been that the client was happy that he kept calling lawyers hearing "no" and particularly, that he kept calling until he heard "yes" from us.
B) INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES AUTO INJURY CLAIM BECAUSE THE CAR INVOLVED WAS STOLEN OR INJURIES RESULTED FROM ROAD RAGE
Anytime a vehicle that causes the accident was either stolen or the product of intentional conduct, such as "road rage" (even if the at fault driver was otherwise insured) it is not unusual to have the insurance company deny the claim.
Again, if you call up the one-dimensional thinker, it is possible if not probable, that he will think about whether the perceived extent of your injuries will confer sufficient dollar recovery to justify his time and efforts. On the other extreme, too severe of injuries can also scare this timid creature away. Again, the life lesson and the theme of this article is: do not be afraid to keep calling even after hearing "no."
How do we see these claims? Again, for us, this factual scenario is filled with great and innovative possibilities.
First, a car that is STOLEN, would certainly allow us to prosecute an uninsured motorist claim against our client's own coverage. Seems easy, and yet regularly missed by the one-dimensional lawyer. But, for us, this is only a starting point into further inquiry.
We would ask, what caused the thief to crash? Was he running from the police, was he being chased by the owner? That might be an additional source of recovery. Was the vehicle really stolen? What was the relationship between the owner of the vehicle and the alleged thief?
We have had cases where the owner of the vehicle learns that their child was driving a car resulting in a crash. The owner on the spot decides to claim that the car was stolen simply to avoid the consequences for his insurance company. Often, these alleged stolen vehicles are nothing but nonsense that a good old fashioned lawsuit can clear up.
How about a case of "Road Rage" where the victim is hurt, but, no surgery or major, long term medical follow up is required?
One-dimensional thinkers would say, "gosh, the uninsured motorist just isn't going to pay very much in a conventional claim brought in a demand for settlement fashioned against an uninsured motorist coverage." Well, he would be right, if that is as far as you chose to think about it one dimensionally.
But, by thinking creatively, another possibility is that a lawsuit be brought against the road rage driver. The outrageous conduct of the driver can drive the dollar value of the loss. Sue the road rage driver personally in a lawsuit, and give notice to the uninsured motorist insurer of our intent to bind them to the results of any eventual jury result. This puts the insurance company squarely indemnifying conduct, not just injury.
This is a way where the nasty conduct of the aggressive driver would be told to the jury. At the conclusion of the evidence, the jury will be left with a jury verdict form. Under the right circumstances the conduct of the driver could very much serve to substantially raise the value of the case as measured by the jury verdict form. This is not conventional thinking- but it is creative, completely legal and to our surprise is often not considered by one-dimensional thinkers.
Again, our clients who heard "NO" time after time before they contacted us will tell you that it was worth the rejection to finally get a connection with a law firm dedicated to solving problems and using creativity to achieve results.
Few things are more important than the selection of the right attorney to assist you after and injury accident. We know how tough this process can be emotionally. Going through the process of talking to various attorneys will result in certain impressions in your mind. Will this lawyer listen to me? Does this lawyer care? Do not be afraid or recoil from the process simply because you receive negative reaction from certain lawyers. Where possible, do not take NO as your final answer.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we will take the time to listen to your claim and use our creativity, experience, and downright tenacity to try and formulate a solution to your case. Even if you have been told "NO" from some other attorney, please contact us today so we can find a way to tell you "YES".