Don’t Be Afraid to File Suit

In the 35 plus years I have practiced law I have never encountered a client that looked forward to our filing suit against the at-fault party or their insurance company. Granted there is a delay in resolving the legal problem and a certain degree of uncertainty as to the result, but the method of operation or M.O. of insurance companies these days has dramatically increased the number of lawsuits we have to file on behalf of our clients. Years ago, perhaps one in four or five cases resulted in a lawsuit. Today, roughly 40 percent require filing suit due to unreasonable positions taken or low offers of settlement. Some insurance companies routinely make offers so low that the claimant receives little or no compensation for pain and suffering. In the case of those insurance companies we usually file lawsuits almost 100% of the time. Getting back to the title of this blog, “Don’t be afraid to file suit,” allow me to cite some statistics that will take some of the fear out of filing suit. The attorneys at Phillips and Lyon keep detailed statistics on all cases that result in a lawsuit. After all, I do not wish to recommend filing suit unless our client is likely to win. Looking at statistics for December, 2015 we note the following: On average the litigation award was more than double the highest offer made by the insurance company. The average length of time from the date of filing the lawsuit until the […]

Driverless Vehicles and the Future of Accident Liability

Earlier this month, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made waves in the automotive industry when he announced that his company was just two years away from releasing its first fully autonomous vehicle. Prior to this announcement, even the most optimistic industry forecasters estimated that it would be about five years before driverless cars hit the consumer market. Coming from anyone else, Musk’s estimate might sound like a desperate grab for media attention. But in light of the fact that his other company, SpaceX, just successfully landed a rocket upright after returning from orbit for the first time in history, his prediction about driverless cars doesn’t seem quite so outrageous. Whether or not Musk’s estimate will prove to be accurate, there’s little doubt that sooner or later driverless vehicles will become commonplace on America’s roadways. Once this day does come, the questions surrounding accident liability could get a whole lot more complicated. Automakers, legislators and insurance providers are already working to hammer out the details of how fault will be established in car accidents that involve autonomous vehicles. Let’s take a look at a few of the hot-button issues surrounding accident liability and driverless cars. Joint Liability Between Man and Machine At least initially, autonomous vehicles will still need to have a driver behind the wheel. In California, legislation has already been passed that requires a licensed driver behind the wheel of any partially or fully autonomous vehicle. So let’s say one of these vehicles gets in an accident. Is the […]