Civil Case and Car Accident Filings are on the Rise

Cases involving car accidents and insurance companies are increasing every year. This image shows the supreme court.

Image courtesy of Claire Anderson @claireandy

  • Civil Case Filing Are On The Rise For The First Time In Seven Years: There were a total of 774,202 civil filings during the fiscal year 2017, which represents an increase of 64,158 filings from the fiscal year 2016 (the first one since fiscal year 2010) and breaks the prior seven year downward trend of filings (2018 CSR, Data for Figures 3-16, p. 93.)

 

  • Limited Civil Case Filings Are Primarily Responsible For The Rise In Civil Case Filings: Of the total civil filings in the fiscal year 2017, 210,028 (up by roughly 10,000 filings from 2016) were unlimited civil cases (recovery sought $25,000 or more), 400,599 (up by roughly 50,000 filings from 2016) were limited civil cases (recovery sought less than $25,000, except small claims matters), and 163,575 (up by roughly 5,000 filings) were small claims matters. (2018 CSR, Data for Figures 3-16, p. 93.)

 

  • The Number of Matters Disposed Of Before Trial Is On The Decline: 141,250 out of 210,028  (67%, which is down from 80% in 2017 CSR) unlimited civil cases were disposed of before trial; 38,980 37,237 (18%, which is slightly down from 20% in 2017 CSR) were disposed of after trial. While a higher percentage of limited civil cases were disposed of before trial than unlimited civil cases (316,806 out of 400,599 cases – 79%, which is down from 91% in 2017 CSR),  the percentage of limited civil cases disposed of before trial dropped by over 10% from the Judicial Council’s last report (2018 CSR, Figure 21, p.96; 2017 CSR, Figure 21, pp. 67, 97.)

 

  • The Number of Car Accident Filings Is On The Rise: 38,833 unlimited motor vehicle (Personal Injury/Property Damage/Wrongful Death) cases (“MVA Cases”) were filed in 2017, up from 35,103 in 2016) and 28,964 in 2010. (2018 CSR, Data for Figures 3-16, p. 94.)  See actual settlements here 

 

  • The Percentage of Car Accident Filings Disposed Of Before Trial Declined: Roughly seventy-nine percent (down by 10% from 2017 CSR) of MVA Cases filed were disposed of before trial. (2018 CSR, Table 5c, pp. 120-121.)

 

  • The Number Of Car Accident Filing Going To Trial Increased: Between one and two percent or 645 MVA Cases were reportedly disposed of after trial, of which 317 were tried to a jury and 328 to the court. (2018 CSR, Table 5c, pp.120-121.)

 

While the 2018 CSR continues to reinforce the notion that the overwhelming majority of automobile insurance claims are settled without resort to litigation given the relatively low number of total filings, the increase in civil and car accident filings suggests a new trend may be developing.

Source Court Statistics Report

No portion of the above is intended to constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for getting competent legal advice.  Average Insurance Settlement is not a law firm or engaged in the practice of law in any jurisdiction.  

Posted in Insurance Settlement

Dog Bites Can Result in Huge Insurance Settlements

Picture of a cute puppy

Even the cutest dogs can bite people

 

Dog bite injuries, lawsuits and insurance settlements are a serious issue in the United States.

According to the American Association of Vets there are there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year. Of these, about 800,000 require medical attention or treatment.

Any dog is capable of biting no matter how cuddly or cute they might be. More often than not the victims are children.

It’s not the dogs breed that determines their propensity to bite. A better determinant is the dog’s personal history and behavior in stressful situations.

 

Dogs bite for a variety of reasons.

Usually they are reacting to something that startles them or stresses them out. They get startled and react or they might feel they need to defend themselves or their territory.

The dog could be sick or injured causing them to be overly defensive in an effort the defend themselves.

Children, more than adults, like to put their faces very close to the dog’s face.

Facial injuries can be severe and require multiple treatments or surgeries to minimize scarring.

Other times dogs could be playing and decided and nip at a person. In the cases of small children this can lacerate and tear their tender and young skin.

The American Association of Veterinarians has a good list of tips to prevent dog bites.

If you own a dog, it’s important that you keep their shots and vaccinations up to date.

In the event that your dog bites and injures someone you don’t to infect that person with rabies or another disease that could have been prevented with proper vaccinations.

If your dog bite’s someone causing injuries, know that you’ll have to meet with insurance companies and attorneys.

Make sure that you have proper insurance to protect you and your family from a financially devastating dog bite insurance settlement. Many people choose to have an umbrella policy.

To better understand if you are protected in the event of a dog bite, contact your insurance provider.

Read actual dog bite settlement amounts.  

 

 

 

Posted in Insurance Settlement

Protect Yourself From Devastating Insurance Lawsuits

Many people are caught unaware when the insurance coverages fails to protect them from large insurance lawsuits in the event of a car accident. It doesn’t have to be that way. Better insurance than minimum liability is often only a few dollars more per month.

An interview with David Grayson, one of the top Insurance Brokers in San Diego. He can be reached at California Brokerage Insurance Associates. His office is located at 3180 University Ave, Ste 120 San DiegoCalifornia 92104. Telephone  619-283-9999

Picture of David Grayson who explains the pitfalls of not having enough insurance when a car accident occurs

David Grayson of California Brokerage Insurance Associates

KL – I was astonished to learn that there are 6 million car accidents in the US. And that’s every year!

David Grayson – It’s crazy. Your life can change in the blink of an eye.

KL- How so?

David Grayson – Financial devastation. The minimum required insurance is far too low to protect from anything but very minor traffic accidents. Many states only require you to carry a minimum 15,000 per person 30,000 per occurrence and 5,000 property damage.

To break that down, if an individual hits somebody else that’s 15,000 medical for anybody they injure. 30,000 for the total occurrence accident more than one person injured. 5,000 to fix the property damage that they do to the other person’s vehicle or fence or city property.

Which runs out in a blink of an eye. If anyone needs an operation of any sort that’s like 200k these days. If there’s multiple injuries in the crash? It can get really bad. You really have to protect yourself from large insurance lawsuits.

If they’re all of a sudden hit with a hundred or two hundred thousand dollars in bills, that financially impacts everything. It changes everything in your life that moment. That’s a great pity. And it’s all over.

So if you have minimum liability insurance who’s going to be responsible for that?

Somebody is coming after you for the rest of that money. And it’s usually an insurance company with a well funded legal team.

KL – Everyone’s driving record is different. It’s based on where you live, what kind of car, etc. Can put that in perspective with the cost of say some better insurance? Generally speaking what would you say the cost is for decent driver with one point on their license for better minimum liability insurance. Can you ballpark that?

David Grayson – Even they were to spend about $7 more per month so most likely in the upper 40’s per month to get 25,15, 25 coverage. It’s quite a bit more coverage than the minimum.

A better solution would be spending a few more dollars and getting the next step up – 50k, 100k, 150k.

So by paying $18 more per month over what minimum auto liability would cost you, you’re getting much better coverage. That’s like 40 cents more per day to protect you.

It’s very inexpensive and for you to walk away just wiping your hands clean from that accident and saying gosh no bills or nobody’s coming after me or my company.

KL – Can talk about the difference in quality between insurance companies. For example, a company that will stand behind you in times of an accident and other companies that in the event of a insurance claim will try and stay as far away as possible from you?

So like for example I understand USAA is a very good quality insurance company. What are some other companies that stand behind their drivers?

David Grayson – So with those companies you’re mentioning they are, let’s say, the upper echelon of companies as far as financial stability. What we use to rank the financial stability of a company is called called Am Best Rating Services. If the companies are pending a downgrade you want to stay away from them.

I’m not going to mention names but there are some not so good insurance companies that have been a household name for so many years. With being in the industry and actually knowing the public adjusting side of it, you would cringe and be blown away by some of the things that happened when claims come down to the wire.

That’s where a broker, I think, bring so much value to the table when you use a broker. Because we are in the industry. We’ve been doing it so long and we know the products out there.

KL- Correct me if I’m wrong on this but when you go through a broker, you’re really not paying much more money than if you had gone direct. Is that correct?

David Grayson – Yeah and we’re only going to move you to another policy if we’re bringing value to the table and saving you money or giving you better coverage.

Now, if we’re if you’re in a non-standard product and you’ve got some blemishes, maybe some things on your record, that you don’t qualify for that other products. Yes there could be some fees involved when purchasing the policy, but you’re only going to move you if we’re really saving you a lot of money.

You’re not going to have a gripe anyways paying that fee to buy the policy because we just saved you a bunch of money and brought value to the table.

KL – My oldest is going to be driving soon. It kind of amazes me there isn’t much mention of carrying more than the minimum required in driver’s ed classes.

David Grayson – As a young adult, outside of parental influence, many are, you know, ‘just give me ask me what the law requires.’

That’s kind of embedded from the get go so the sooner you change that mindset and start thinking, you know I don’t want the minimum required.

They might be thinking about getting their first condo or whatever and then all of a sudden and a car crash comes along and you only had the minimum, your plans are crushed.

Yeah you know that it’s a shame because it could have been it could have been avoided this easily.

KL – David thanks so much for your time.

Car Accident Statistics in the U.S.

 

 

Posted in Insurance Settlement

Most Car Accident Claims Reach A Settlement Before Going To Court

Court statistics published by the Judicial Council of California reinforce the notion that the overwhelming majority of automobile accident insurance claims are disposed of by settlement.  The 2017 Court Statistics Report,  http://www.courts.ca.gov/13421.htm, reveals:

 

  • There were a total of 712,299 civil filings during the fiscal year 2016, down from the 1,150, 026 cases in 2010 (2017 CSR, Data for Figures 3-16, p. 95.)

 

  • Of the total civil filings in the fiscal year 2016, 201,390 were unlimited civil cases (recovery sought $25,000 or more), 352,562 were limited civil cases (recovery sought less than $25,000, except small claims matters), and 158,347 were small claims matters. (2017 CSR, Data for Figures 3-16, p. 95.)

 

  • 145,044 out of 201,390 (80%) unlimited civil cases were disposed of before trial; 37,237 (20%) were disposed of after trial. An even higher percentage of limited civil cases were disposed of before trial (316,806 cases – 91%); and 25,465 limited civil cases were disposed of after trial (7%); 63,383 small claims cases were disposed of (42%) before trial; 87,459 (58%) small clams cases were disposed of after trial. (2017 CSR, Figure 21, pp. 67, 97.)

 

  • 35,100 motor vehicle (Personal Injury/Property Damage/Wrongful Death) cases (“MVA Cases”) were filed in 2016, compared to 29,945 in 2010. (2017  CSR, Data for Figures 3-16, p. 95.)  Filings in only 7 counties made up roughly seventy percent of the total number of MVA Cases: (1) Los Angeles County: 13, 681 filings; (2) Orange County: 2,863 filings; (3) San Diego County: 2,594 filings; (4) Sacramento County: 1,767 filings; (5) San Bernardino County: 1606 filings; (6) Riverside County: 1512 filings; (7) Ventura County: 714 filings.  (2017 CSR, Table 4a, pp. 113-114.)

 

  • Roughly eighty-nine percent (31,145 filings) of MVA Cases filed were disposed of before trial. The pre-trial disposition rate for the counties making up seventy percent of MVA filings ranges from 85% to  93%: (1) Los Angeles County: 11,700 out  of 13,681 (85%); (2) Orange County: 2668 out of 2,863 (93.1%); (3) San Diego County: 2,420 out of 2,596 (93.2%); (4) Sacramento County: 1527 out of 1,767 (86%); (5) San Bernardino County: 1462 out of 1606 (91%);  (6) Riverside County: 1410 out of 1512 (93.2%); and (7) Ventura County: 631 out of 714 (88%). (2017 CSR, Table 5c, pp. 121-122.)

 

  • Only one percent or 574 MVA Cases were reportedly disposed of after trial, of which 350 were tried to a jury and 224 to the court. The greatest number of cases were disposed of after trial in Los Angeles County: (1) Los Angeles County: 171; (2) Orange County: 68; (3) Sacramento County: 68; (4) San Diego County: 58; (5) Ventura County: 34; (6) San Bernardino County: 19; and (7) Alameda County: 18.  (2017 CSR, Table 5c, pp.121-122.)

 

In sum, the relatively low number of annual MVA Cases filed in California, roughly 35,000 cases in 2016 per the 2017 CSR compared to the much greater number of total claims suggests the overwhelming majority of automobile insurance claims are settled without resort to litigation.     The low percentage (1%) of MVA Cases disposed of after trial is indicative of a high settlement rate for those claims that end up in litigation as well.

 

No portion of the above is intended to constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for getting competent legal advice.  Average Insurance Settlement is not a law firm or engaged in the practice of law in any jurisdiction.  

 

Posted in Insurance Settlement

The Importance of Cooperating With Your Attorney

An injured party’s participation in a claim should not end with the retention of competent
legal counsel. The ideal relationship between attorney and client is a cooperative partnership. A
client’s full investment and cooperation with counsel is essential to maximizing recovery and
timely resolution of personal injury claims and insurance settlements.

The importance of client cooperation is reflected in its frequent inclusion as an express
term in attorney-client fee agreements. For example, the hourly & contingency based sample fee
agreements made available online by the State Bar of California identify cooperation as a
contractual duty owed by the client. Section 3 of the State Bar sample agreements provides as
follows:

Client agrees to be truthful with Attorney and not to withhold information.
Further, Client agrees to cooperate, to keep Attorney informed of any
information or developments which may come to Client’s attention, to
abide by this Agreement, to pay Attorney’s bills on time, and to keep
Attorney advised of Client’s address, telephone number and whereabouts.
Client will assist Attorney by timely providing necessary information and
documents. Client agrees to appear at all legal proceedings when Attorney
deems it necessary, and generally to cooperate fully with Attorney in all
matters related to the preparation and presentation of Client’s claims.
(Emphasis added.)

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/about-us/forms. While the specific contours of a client’s duty to
cooperate may vary from contract to contract, the duty to cooperate essentially means that a
client is obligated to reasonably assist the lawyer with aspects of the case.

Bottom line, whether framed as a contractual duty or not, client cooperation and
assistance fosters effective legal representation. The failure to cooperate and assist counsel as
requested may not only ne contrary to contract, but may also serve to sabotage counsel’s efforts,
delay resolution and/or compromise other aspects of the claim such as value or amount of
recovery.

You can view settlements here

No portion of the above is intended to constitute legal advice or serve as a
substitute for getting competent legal advice. Average Insurance Settlement is not
a law firm or engaged in the practice of law in any jurisdiction.

Posted in Insurance Settlement

Top 10 Best & Worst Insurance Companies Ranked By California Department Of Insurance

When you’re facing disaster – be it an auto accident, costly home repair it’s critical that your insurance company to be in your corner.

Unfortunately not all insurance companies are created equally.

Some companies stand by their customers according to their policy limits. Other companies will attempt to run away from their customers problems. They know that with enough time and red tape many people will give up and the insurance company won’t have to pay out a dime.

The California Department Of Insurance investigates consumer complaints about insurance companies. Many of these complaints are about companies not paying on insurance settlements that the consumer felt their policies were covered.

Not all of these complaints are justified though.

This PDF shows that while some companies have as few as 1 justified complaint per 100,000 policies other companies have as many as 47 per 100,000 policies.

If an insurance company with 47 complaints per 100k of policies written and they’re insuring a million people that’s a whopping 470 justified complaints. That can be devastating if a person was involved in an auto accident and they are facing a 200k insurance settlement to cover bills and expenses.

They paid for their policy but now find themselves alone. If you find yourself in this situation it might be worthwhile to seek out a good attorney.

Lets take a look at how the California Department of Insurance has ranked the top 10 large auto insurance companies and the bottom ten based on justified consumer complaints.

The ratio is based off of complaints per 100,000 policies the company has written.

Here are the ten best companies with the fewest justified complaints.

’15 Rank Company Name 2015
Approx.
Exposure
Count
Justified Complaint Ratio Number of Justified Complaints
2015 2014 2013 2015 2014 2013
1 Garrison Prop & Cas Ins Co 104,110 1.0 5.6 2.6 1 5 2
2 Allied Prop & Cas Ins Co 136,249 1.5 2.9 0.7 2 4 1
3 Progressive Direct Ins Co 119,804 1.7 1.7 0.9 2 2 1
4 Interins Exch Of The Automobile Club 2,111,001 1.8 1.3 1.5 37 27 31
5 Allstate Northbrook Ind Co 1,758,868 2.2 0.0    new 38 0 0
6 Farmers Specialty Ins Co 83,102 2.4 0.0 new 2 0 0
7 Amco Ins Co 285,881 2.4 1.4         1.1 7 4 3
8 Mercury Ins Co 1,558,139 2.8 2.1 0.9 44 33 15
9 Amica Mut Ins Co 68,875 2.9 0.0 3.1 2 0 2
10 Farmers Ins Exch 1,220,641 3.3 2.1 3.0 40 23 30
 Most Justified Complaints
40 Nationwide Ins Co Of Amer 121,299 12.4 7.6 3.4 15 9 4
41 Hartford Underwriters Ins Co 223,079 12.6 6.6 3.7 28 15 8
42 Geico Cas Co 153,005 13.1 11.7 1.6 20 15 2
43 Allstate Ins Co 88,868 14.6 4.3 1.7 13 14 6
44 Loya Cas Ins Co 246,715 15.4 5.3 5.4 38 12 12
45 Alliance United Ins Co 771,805 15.9 13.0 5.3 123 84 25
46 Victoria Fire & Cas Co 82,959 16.9 12.4 8.8 14 11 8
47 Allstate Ind Co 163,285 20.8 3.3 2.2 34 52 36
48 Integon Natl Ins Co 113,337 26.5 23.2 16.5 30 24 19
49 Access Ins Co 325,119 27.1 18.9 11.7 88 61 44
50 Anchor Gen Ins Co 78,803 47.0 26.8 22.3 37 21 14

 

 

 

Posted in Insurance Settlement

Why Smart People Want To Pay More For Their Car Insurance

In California, all drivers are required to have at least minimum liability insurance. The minimum amount of coverage required is bodily injury liability insurance of $15,000 per person, with a total of $30,000 in coverage per accident for injuries sustained by others, and $5,000 in property damage liability insurance for physical damage done to other property, such as another driver’s vehicle.

If you’re involved in a car accident where the other driver doesn’t have auto insurance or there are injuries associated with the crash, your policy limits will quickly be maxed out. This leaves you facing the possibility of facing the prospect of paying thousands of dollars in settlement fees.

Lawsuits are tricky

If you find yourself in a involved in a lawsuit it’s best to be prepared with insurance that protects you

While there is no such thing as an average car accident insurance settlement, you can read some of these settlements to get an idea of how quickly they can exhaust the limits of minimum liability car insurance.

At the other end of the car insurance spectrum from liability only is standard premium car insurance.

This has much higher limits than liability only and covers the cost of fixing your car, rent a car while your car is being fixed and more. The biggest difference though is that the bodily injury caps are 5 – 10X of what they are in a minimum liability policy.

Let’s take a look at the price difference between the 2 different types of policies. We surveyed 45 companies in California to get a solid understand of the difference in cost between liability only insurance and standard premium. The criteria we used was this. Insurance for a married couple with 2 cars – a Toyota Camry and a Toyota Prius. Both cars are 2 years old. Neither driver has any tickets on their license and they live in San Diego CA. and have been driving for 10+ years.

Please note that your results will vary depending upon where you live, driving record, type of car, etc.

Let’s look at the chart below at the cost difference.

 

Insurance Company Standard Premium Liability Only
Access General $3,116 $1,057
Alliance United $2,834 $965
Allstate $2,883 $1,377
Amica Mutual $2,969 $836
Anchor General $2,145 $749
California Capital $2,764 $708
California Casualty $2,608 $1,485
Century National $2,276 $1,083
Civil Service Employees $2,802 $1,220
Coast National $3,938 $1,336
Encompass $2,597 $1,231
Esurance $3,245 $1,061
Everest National $5,391 $1,206
Explorer $2,783 $1,498
Farmers $3,013 $858
Federal Ins (CHUBB) $3,869 $786
Financial Indemnity $2,608 $1,158
Government Employees Ins Co $2,060 $1,072
Hartford $3,320 $1,026
Horace Mann $2,340 $842
Horace Mann Prop and Cas $2,266 $1,029
IDS $2,824 $954
Infinity $1,851 $1,609
Kemper $3,072 $730
Liberty Mutual $4,541 $895
MAPFRE $2,646 $916
Mercury $2,414 $812
Metropolitan Direct $2,252 $1,010
National General/Integon $3,576 $1,413
Nationwide $3,355 $962
Pacific Property & Casualty $2,382 $1,439
Pacific Specialty $3,625 $1,000
Permanent General $3,405 $804
Progressive West $2,684 $1,224
Safeco $3,059 $1,482
Safeway $5,796 $1,093
State Farm $3,123 $1,201
Traveler $2,607 $972
United Financial Cas (Progressive) $2,388 $745
USAA $2,169 $1,485
Victoria Fire $4,692 $1,305
Viking $5,060 $788
Wawanesa $1,653 $797
Western General $2,733 $1,014

Some cases the cost differences between the 2 auto insurance policies are extreme, as much as $4,000 for Viking Insurance. Other cases the difference isn’t so much, about $900 difference for Wawanesa.

Smart people will spend more on their insurance to be insulate themselves from large crippling lawsuits. Are your assets worth protecting? If so, you’ll want much more than minimum liability car insurance.

Posted in Insurance Settlement

The Devastating Financial Impact Of Car Accidents

Auto accidents are expensive for everyone. For people who are underinsured being involved in car crash can be financially devastating.

Even if you didn’t cause the car accident you could be ruled to partially at blame and face the prospect of paying out 50 or even 100 thousand dollars or more on an insurance settlement.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration each year, more than 43,000 people in the United States die due to vehicular accidents. About 2.9 million people end up suffering light or severe injuries.

Many people don’t think about their insurance until they need to use it. By then it’s too late.

They thought their car insurance would take care of everything. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

For the under insured it will be the biggest financial mistake they’ve ever made. They selected a lower rate of liability coverage to save money on auto insurance and they’ve left themselves exposed in a big way.

All of us know how expensive hospitals are. Even minor injuries sustained from a car accident can result in a trip to hospital that can cost as much as 10,000 dollars or more.

If multiple passengers and vehicles are involved in the crash, even in a minor way, you could be looking at being liable for 50k.

Accidents like this leave people vulnerable to paying out huge insurance settlements

How much do you think this car accident cost the responsible driver?

Minimum liability car insurance isn’t enough. Take a look at what the state of California requires at a minimum –

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage – $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
Property Damage Liability Coverage – $5,000 minimum
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage – $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage – $3,500 minimum

It’s easy to see how this type of coverage will leave a person vulnerable in the event of a car accident.

The news only gets worse. In addition to medical bills you also have legal bills to pay for. Sometimes even you’ll be liable to pay the legal bills for your own insurance company if you don’t have enough coverage to cover the cost of the lawsuit.

Every accident is different. There isn’t a typical amount of insurance settlement, everyone agrees that the settlement amounts can be shocking – especially if you’re the one who has to pay the settlement.

It pays to know the extent of your insurance coverage.

Posted in Insurance Settlement

Expecting a Settlement in a Lawsuit?

Car Accident Settlements

Statistically, most US drivers are involved in 2 to 3 car accidents over the course of their lives. Most result in settlements or lawsuits.

If you’re the victim you’re probably curious about what type of settlement you might be expecting. If you or your insurance company are being sued or negotiating a settlement, it’s helpful to know what to expect.

Statistically, most US drivers are involved in 2 to 3 car accidents over the course of their lives. Most result in settlements or lawsuits.

If you’re the victim you’re probably curious about what type of settlement you might be expecting. If you or your insurance company are being sued or negotiating a settlement, it’s helpful to know what to expect.

Statistically, most US drivers are involved in 2 to 3 car accidents over the course of their lives. Most result in settlements or lawsuits.

If you’re the victim you’re probably curious about what type of settlement you might be expecting. If you or your insurance company are being sued or negotiating a settlement, it’s helpful to know what to expect.

Posted in Insurance Settlement