Insurance companies are becoming less likely to make fair settlement offers, as any Michigan disability attorney can attest. There are many reasons for this. Insurers have been hit by the financial crisis, just like other businesses. There have also been increased insurance claims by people who are down on their luck because of the bad economy.
But most of all, insurance companies refuse to make fair offers because they can get away with it. Insurance companies are profit-driven, and one of the best ways to make more money is to pay less money to personal injury claimants.
Years of media reports about “lawsuit abuse” have soured potential jurors to personal injury claimants. While there are certainly some examples of frivolous lawsuits, they are comparatively rare. Insurers are happy to insinuate (if not state outright) that all or most personal injury lawsuits are bogus.
This trend of blaming the victim is traceable to the infamous McDonald’s “hot coffee” case. Your Michigan disability attorney will have to work to overcome this persistent bias when presenting your case.
Facts of the McDonald’s Coffee Case
Most people know the basic facts. An elderly woman was burned when she spilled hot coffee on her lap in a McDonald’s drive-in. She sued McDonald’s and got a big payout. This was treated as a joke by standup comedians and late-night talk show hosts. But the story we heard omitted several key facts.
The woman’s claims didn’t come out of nowhere. McDonalds had received hundreds of claims of injuries from coffee that was too hot. The jury’s verdict included punitive damages (damages intended to punish McDonald’s for being aware of the risk and doing nothing to prevent it). The woman’s injuries were serious, but McDonald’s refused to settle for a demand that was a small fraction of the eventual verdict. Finally, the woman’s verdict was later reduced by a judge.
The backlash to this single lawsuit, encouraged by insurance companies and special interests, is still being felt decades later. If you need a Michigan disability attorney or help with another legal matter, please contact us online or call the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates at (800) 961-8477.