What insurance company in Maryland is most likely to take their car accident cases to trial? I have never asked myself that specific question but I started thinking about it after reading the most recent Metro Verdicts Monthly (Volume 22, Issue 3). From reading this issue with that question in mind and just reflecting unscientifically on the cases we have tried over the last year, I think the answer clearly is State Farm.
For whatever reason, I think State Farm has less concern about taking a bad faith verdict than other insurance companies. I have no idea why. But it also seems that at least with respect to its own insureds, who are defendants, State Farm will stand behind them by paying an excess verdict. As I understand it, keeping in mind that this is all based on hearsay and second and third hand reports, State Farm sends a “good neighbor letter” to its insured letting them know that if there is a verdict in excess of the State Farm policy limits, State Farm will pay the claim.
Why is State Farm willing to try so many cases in Maryland? I think it is a clear message to Maryland accident lawyers that if they do not take State Farm’s often pitiful offer; they had better be prepared for trial. Does this tough guy tactic work? I think in many cases it does. Many Maryland car accident lawyers are not prepared to go to trial. So even if State Farm loses on most cases that go to trial – as I believe they do – the overall message to other accident lawyers may well make it a loss worth taking for them.
Particularly in this economy, there is the temptation for many real estate, criminal and domestic lawyers to dabble in accident lawsuits, particularly if it is a serious accident. But there is a reason why our firm does not dabble in areas of the law unrelated to personal injury cases. And it is not 1985 anymore, insurance companies are not giving away anything without a fight. So if you sign up to handle a Maryland accident claim, you had better be ready to handle the case through trial.
Our practice is largely based on referrals from other lawyers. Our firm looks to establish relationships with other lawyers that refer serious injury cases (accident, malpractice, and product liability) to our firm with co-counsel fees consistent with Maryland Rule 1.5(e).