Search Site
Menu
What Does an Insurance Company/Defense Attorney Look for in a Personal Injury Case?

I am happy to invite a leading defense attorney to participate in this video blog. John Johnson has been defending civil cases for forty years and has been involved in some of the most serious personal injury cases in Massachusetts. That involvement has included the handling of not only trials but appellate cases. As you may be aware from my prior blogs, or from your own sources, appellate cases create most of the tort law or negligence law that we encounter in Massachusetts.

I thought it wise to ask John what he, as a defense attorney in serious accident cases, looks for in a plaintiff, or person suing. He mentions that his first person-to-person meeting with the person bringing the lawsuit is at a deposition. A deposition, unlike a trial, is not held in a courtroom, but is held in a lawyer’s office. The deposing attorney tries to elicit facts from the person suing. However, there is another dynamic that goes on: the assessment of the plaintiff is taking place. I have known about this aspect of depositions since I began working as a lawyer. I started working in a very busy defense law firm and I recall my boss who, if he were alive, would be in his eighties and always saying to me, “Now, I get to size her/him up.” Evidently, this is the common view of defense lawyers. As John Johnson says, he expects the person to be somewhat nervous and he attributes that to the process. One of the roles that he has as a defense lawyer is to determine if the nervousness is an understandable reaction to a formal process or if it’s due to something entirely different. Is the nervousness due to the witness’s concealing of information or to the desire to exaggerate? You should know that the deposing lawyer is filing a report with the insurance company and will report the facts as presented in the deposition but also will provide an assessment of the plaintiff. Will he or she make a good witness at trial? Is he or she likable? In my experience, the answers to those questions go a long way to determining if a case will be settled.

John Johnson also speaks of how he uses documents to assess the value of a case. He mentions that hospital records are relevant. Certainly, they tell us about the physical injury but, he, as defense attorney, is particularly interested in how the injured party has described the accident. It is generally felt that a person’s description is most reliable at a point that is closest to the time of the accident. That is just common sense. The individual has not had an opportunity to reflect upon the accident or to speak to a lawyer. Thus, there is an aura of authenticity to that description. To be sure, there are interesting evidentiary considerations on whether that description is admissible as evidence. There are some circumstances where it is admissible and others where it is not. Nevertheless, that description can go a long way to determining whether there is a personal injury settlement.

You will note that John continued to speak of exaggeration and/or overreaching on the part of the person bringing the injury action. He says, not surprisingly, that such exaggeration can hurt a case badly and discusses how such exaggeration is easy to detect. Even though John Johnson represents defendants and I represent plaintiffs, we are in full agreement on that point. Overreaching runs the risk of hurting the very valid injuries for which my clients seek compensation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Feinberg & Alban, P.C. fervently protects your rights
  • The Boston firm of Feinberg & Alban, P.C. specializes its practice in the area of personal injury.

    The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.

  • $7.7 Million Award for Feinberg & Alban Client in Personal Injury Trial

    Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.

Client Reviews
  • google
    5.0/5.0

    I recently hired Robert Feinberg of Feinberg and Alban. He was professional, knowledgeable, compassionate, reliable and responsive. The results he brought me were truly amazing. I would highly recommend Robert Feinberg to friends and relatives. I ...

    Read more

    Joanie Bell

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    I used the law firm Feinberg and Alban pc to handle a personal injury case for me. I found them to be very honest, ,always reachable, and extremely competent. Robert Feinberg worked very hard for a long time to accomplish a fair settlement. I would ...

    Read more

    jay slobodkin

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Robert Feinberg is a dedicated attorney who goes above and beyond to help his clients. He is prompt and thorough in his work and always perseveres to get the best results for his clients. I admire and respect his professionalism and work ethic. His k...

    Read more

    Marissa Broverman

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Robert Feinberg and his team were nothing short of stellar. They were prompt in all communications, insulated me from complications with insurances while I recovered from my injuries, and produced a favorable outcome after all was said and done. Ver...

    Read more

    Nigel Mathes

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Great communication and follow up. Responsive to my needs and positive result's !

    Read more

    Chris Connor

See all reviews
Awards & Affiliations
Contact us

Quick Contact Form