Editor’s Note: Names, locations and other details have been changed to protect the innocent.
Mary Grantham — a nod to my lovely wife’s favorite PBS series, “Downton Abbey” — suffered painful head, neck and foot injuries in a rear-end motor vehicle collision that occurred on southbound I-97 on the Friday before Labor Day in 2018. Coincidentally, we were about to try a motor vehicle collision case for Ms. Grantham in the circuit court for Howard County, a collision that had transpired two years earlier. Her injuries were similar. She had documented neck and foot problems, which were exacerbated by the August 31, 2018, collision.
The at-fault driver was insured by Snake Farm Insurance Company. Ms. Grantham incurred medical expenses totaling approximately $7,200. Because she was the daughter of an earl, she suffered no lost wages. After a course of treatment that lasted three and a half months and included visits to the orthopedist, podiatrist and six weeks of physical therapy, she returned to her prior baseline level of symptoms, with occasional neck and foot pain. Nonetheless, she had experienced fear, pain and suffering as the result of a careless driver’s inattention.
Upon concluding treatment, we discussed the case with Ms. Grantham and valued it at $20,000 (valuing injury claims is worth another article and is certainly more art than science). We sent a letter to Snake Farm, along with the motor vehicle crash report, our client’s medical records, bills and related documentation. We started at $31,500, a little higher than our valuation. After a few months of unreturned calls, I cornered the Snake Farm adjuster of the phone. Edna Braithwaite disagreed with our valuation and offered $1,500 for Ms. Grantham’s troubles.
Given our disparate views of the value, we concluded that continuing negotiations would be fruitless. We initially filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Anne Arundel County. We requested $30,000 on Ms. Grantham’s behalf, that figure being the high end of reasonable and the maximum allowed in the district court. Snake Farm requested a jury trial, as is its right under Maryland law. This jury trial prayer moved the case to the circuit court in Annapolis. The pandemic delayed justice for several years. The trial date was postponed three times.
The parties went through the process of discovery. Both sides answered interrogatories. We exchanged documents. Appearing for depositions. Richard Carlyle, the at-fault driver, testified that he could not have possibly caused injury to Ms. Grantham because his foot nearly slipped off the gas pedal and he caused the slightest tap to her rear bumper. He was sorry for causing the collision, but Ms. Grantham couldn’t have possibly been hurt.
After repeated COVID delays, the trial was scheduled for June 14, 2022, in the circuit court. In May, Snake Farm increased its offer to $5,750, still not enough to cover medical expenses. Ms. Grantham held firm. We prepared for trial. One week before trial, the insurance company made its first reasonable offer of $17,500. This was more than three times the offer from a month previous and more than 11.5 times its longstanding offer of $1,500. Ms. Grantham never wanted to go to trial. She didn’t bargain for the four-year odyssey outlined above. She accepted an offer on the low end of reasonable. The moral of the story is that injured folks do not have to accept ridiculously low offers from evil, greedy insurance companies.
If you or a loved one is injured in a motor vehicle collision, you will have many questions. You should consult with an attorney who is familiar with this area of the law and who will assist you in making informed decisions. David Diggs is experienced in negotiating with and litigating against insurance companies. He has recovered millions on behalf of the injured. If you need further information regarding this subject, contact the Law Office of David V. Diggs LLC, located at 8684 Veterans Highway, Suite 302, in Millersville, by calling 410-244-1189 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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