Friday, May 6, 2011

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE? Does the amount of physical damage to my car matter?

An experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer knows it absolutely does. The insurance industries' approach to cases in which the property damage is less than $1000 is explored in other chapters on this page. For the purposes of this discussion, note that low property damage number may mean the insurance company will refuse to pay you anything at all.

Many major insurance companies allow a computer to determine how much injury victims should collect. More than ten years ago, 70 of the nations largest insurance companies began to use a program called "Colossus" [or an analogue e.g. Claimsearch] to determine the amounts they would pay to a victim of negligence. An experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer understands how these programs incorporate property damage estimates into the formula to evaluate the value of the case. Lower property damage estimates lead to lower overall valuation of the claim.

Here is where is gets interesting. At least one major insurance company has purchased and directly owns auto repair facilities. "The Allstate Corporation said yesterday that it had acquired Sterling Collision Centers for an undisclosed amount, making it the first major auto insurer to move into the car repair market....Sterling, which operates 39 car repair shops in seven states and has about $100 million in annual revenue." New York Times, May 9, 2001. An experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer will tell you other major insurers have contractual relations with a network of "authorized providers" or "preferred providers". These are auto repair facilities that derive income from, and in some cases are paid incentives for, participating in the insurer's "network" of repair facilities.

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