super-mom verdict

Client Story: Why Sometimes Small, $11,000 Trial Verdicts Mean the Most to Me

Mandy (not her real name) was your typical “super-mom.” She owned her own business, drove her two sons to travel-team soccer practice and games, and managed the every day stress that came with being a busy, working mother. But all that changed when one day she was hit head-on by a distracted driver on her way to picking up her sons from school.

Mandy felt immediate pain in her back, but brushed it off. Her husband was set to leave soon for China on an extended business trip. Her boys had school, practice, and soccer games, and her business customers were not going to stop calling simply because she was in an accident. Orders would still need to be shipped, the soccer teams would still have practice, and her husband was now 7,000 miles away. Mandy took over-the-counter pain medicine, used ice packs, and did not take a single day off from her company or her full-time job as “mom.”

A few weeks later, her pain still had not resolved. If she could just wait until her husband got back home, she thought, he would take care of the boys and help with her business so that she would finally be able to go to the doctor. She would cry to him on the phone in China about how much her back hurt. When her husband finally returned home from China, he took care of the boys and she took care of herself. Her doctor recommended physical therapy for the next three months – costing her over $3,000.

When she submitted the medical bills to the insurance company of the at-fault driver, the insurance company saw an opportunity to deny her claim. They were now trying to use her working and caring for her boys against her — saying she waited too long to go to the doctor. They offered her $1,000 so she would just “go away.”

But Mandy did not go away, and punishing a mom for putting her family first did not sit right with me. She hired our firm and the case was set for trial. At trial, the insurance company lawyer grilled Mandy about the delay in treatment and argued that she was not really hurt because she did not rush herself to the hospital. That is not the type of person Mandy was, and I knew it. We explained to the court the reasons for the delay, and how Mandy was the type of person that always put her boys before her self.

Today, the court sent us their decision: $11,469.75 plus court costs – over eleven times the insurance company’s offer to settle and every penny we asked for. Sometimes, the system just works.

An $11,000 verdict is not going to put us in the papers, it is not going to be broadcast on the news, but sometimes, $11,000 of justice for a “super-mom” means more to me than the $1.1 million settlements. Mandy could have been my mom, my wife, or my sisters. So to all the “super-moms” out there, thanks for all you do. I am glad we were able to (in a small way) return the favor today.

– Michael

Insurance Diminished Value

Georgia Diminished Value Law: The Insurance Company’s Dirty Little Secret

Nothing is more irritating after an accident than getting your car fixed. Calling to set up the claim, taking your car to collision centers for estimates, setting up a rental car — the list goes on and on.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the insurance company is intentionally “keeping quiet” on extra money you are entitled to receive under Georgia diminished value law. Georgians leave millions of dollars of their money in the pockets of insurance companies every year.

“Diminished Value” is the most misunderstood concept in insurance law. Diminished Value is compensation after a car accident for the anticipated future loss that will occur when the vehicle owner tries to re-sell the vehicle. To better understand this legal concept under Georgia diminished value law, let me give you an example:

Bob gets rear-ended by Jan, and Jan’s insurance company pays for the repairs to Bob’s vehicle. Bob’s vehicle looks like new, after the frame damage is hammered back out. Two years later, Bob takes his car to CarMartWorld to sell. CarMartWorld pulls the car history and sees his vehicle has been in a bad accident. They offer Bob $10,000 for the vehicle even though the car’s normal value is $12,000.

As you can see, Bob will lose $2,000 because of the accident caused by Jan. Under Georgia diminished value law, Jan’s insurance company is responsible for paying Bob the $2,000 diminished value as part of the property damage settlement.

Here is the kicker: Most insurance companies will not offer to pay you diminished value unless you ask for it, and 99% of all Georgians involved in a car accident don’t know to ask. The higher the cost of repairing your vehicle, the more important it is that you to ask for compensation for diminished value. Remember never to sign a property damage release until you receive your diminished value payment.

First, try to find the re-sale value of your car and compare it to cars for sale online that have been in an accident. Then ask the insurance adjuster to pay you the difference. Generally, the insurance adjuster will counter with their own amount — ask how they arrived at the number. Most often they will tell you they arrived at the number by a “formula,” but this “formula” is not necessarily the final authority. Keep negotiating until you come to an amount you feel good accepting.

If you still cannot recover what you feel you deserve, talk to a lawyer or file a lawsuit in small claims court. A lawyer can be particularly helpful if the insurance company is acting in bad faith — as the court can force the insurance company to pay a serious penalty if they are intentionally not paying a valid claim.

Best of luck in your negotiations, and always get all the compensation you deserve under Georgia diminished value law.  If you have any questions, we are always here to help.