Two recent case wins were substantial in several ways. For one, the total sum recovered for two accident victims was well on its way to two million dollars. Notably, however, each case showed how low the insurance companies often value accident claims—and how our attorneys don’t stop fighting until justice is served.
We sat down with Farah & Farah Fort Myers attorney Tyler Dupuy to get the inside scoop on how he was able to use the facts to turn the tables and, ultimately, secure fantastic results for two very deserving clients.
The Everyday Commute That Turned a Life Upside Down
One client’s case began as car accident cases often do, as she was simply driving down the road. Near a side street, another car tried to dart across the road directly in front of her, but there wasn’t enough time and our client impacted their vehicle. The other driver was careless and had no time to make it across the street safely. The at-fault driver’s decision that day would forever alter our client’s life. The rough impact caused neck injuries, which would eventually require surgery.
Just How Serious Neck Injuries Can Be
Car accident injuries can cause unimaginable pain for the victim and sometimes require years of treatment. Even after undergoing round after round of treatment, they can be left with pain and immobility. The Mayo Clinic outlines the seriousness of spinal injuries, warning emergency responders not to move those suspected of having back or neck injuries as permanent paralysis and other serious injuries can result.
Insult to Injury: When Insurance Gets Involved
The at-fault driver in this collision had $100,000 in bodily injury coverage. That amount may seem adequate until you face mountains of medical bills and the possibility of needing future care. Most drivers carry Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage, also called UM, to help in cases where the total claim amount far exceeds the other driver’s liability limits. When our client made a UM claim, the carrier significantly undervalued it, which is when she knew she’d need the help of an attorney in Fort Myers who was familiar with auto accidents.
We Prepare a Case From the Start Like It’s Going to Trial
Dupuy immediately jumped in and started gathering the facts. As part of collecting all the data, Farah & Farah often brings in experts in their fields to review certain aspects of the case and render their opinion.
With this client, Dupuy turned to a physician life care planner. These highly-specialized experts can compute how much future medical care will likely cost. We hire experts like these because your accident can cause injuries that need treatment here and now but that also require treatment down the road. To make sure you’re made as close to whole again, we look at the entire picture and consider all of that when we prepare your case for trial.
Finding the Right Medical Experts To Diagnose Injuries Accurately
The insurance company also tried to pin our client’s pain on previous injuries, so we hired a radiologist to review her scans side-by-side. It was the radiologist’s assessment that her present pain was due to this accident. With all of the information and the case prepared for trial, the case went before an arbitrator, which is a neutral third party who can provide a non-binding decision.
After hearing the expert’s analysis and our arguments, the arbitrator deemed our client’s case worth $693,107.43, far more than the insurance company’s low ball offer. Faced with all of the facts and the arbitrator’s opinion that supported our claim, the insurance company agreed, and the case was able to conclude.
“She trusted us through the process,” Dupuy recalls. “Letting me guide her through the process to get that result takes courage, and she was fantastic.”
Rear-End Collisions Can Happen at Any Time
Another client’s success story involved a young woman sitting in her vehicle in a parking spot with a friend as they enjoyed a meal. A distracted driver using his company’s van drifted off the road and slammed into our client at full speed. She was unrestrained because she’d been sitting in a parking spot and eating. That meant she took the full brunt of the impact and flew forward into the dash and steering wheel. The distracted driver would be arrested and charged with driving under the influence and cited for texting while driving.
The Accident Was Just the Beginning
Accident scene footage shows how serious our client’s facial injuries were before she was transported to the hospital. Over time, our client would require a specialist treatment team and surgery to help repair her neck and back.
The Insurance Company’s Delaying Tactics
Knowing how much she was up against, our client sought out an accident attorney to help her start the road to recovery. When Tyler Dupuy took over, he was set to file a lawsuit against the reckless driver and the company he worked for while driving a commercial vehicle. When a demand was sent, the insurance company responded but wanted to delay the process.
Unfortunately, this is quite common in car accident cases. Being an experienced accident attorney, Dupuy wasn’t going to play the insurance company’s game and went ahead and filed a lawsuit. When the insurance company finally made an offer, it was substantially less than everything the case was worth, so Dupuy advised his client to continue with the lawsuit.
When Arbitration Doesn’t Work
As with our first client success story, the court ordered both parties to attend non-binding arbitration. This process can help cases resolve faster than going through a complete trial. As before, each side can present arguments, call witnesses, and, ultimately, the neutral arbitrator renders a decision.
It’s important to keep in mind that both parties have the opportunity to accept or reject the arbitrator’s decision. Still, the process can be immensely helpful in getting cases resolved. In this case, Dupuy advised his client to reject the arbitrator’s decision because he believed all the facts pointed to the case being worth more, so the decision was made to proceed with the trial.
Knowing a Case’s True Value
Dupuy’s valuation of the case came from various factors, and he followed his intuition with years spent as an accident attorney in Lee County to proceed to trial. Even though the case had been going on for more than two years, the client was still being treated for her injuries. In addition to medical expenses and lost wages, which can be reasonably easy to demonstrate, our firm also prioritizes other costs, which we call “human costs.” Human costs are real and raw, such as no longer being able to enjoy your favorite hobby or spend as much time playing with your grandkids.
A few of these are significant costs to consider like future medical costs, pain, and missed opportunities because of the accident. “Of course, we seek compensation for treatment to date, but we also seek compensation for medical treatment our client will need in the future,” Dupuy explains.
To value this, we hire experts at the top of their fields, like physician life care planners who can put a number on future medical costs, radiologists who can review scans and images, and others.
“We did everything we needed to fully prepare for trial, which is why the insurance company made a better offer. They knew we’d worked the case up thoroughly, and we were ready,” says Dupuy.
We Fight Toe-To-Toe With Big Insurance Companies
This case was particularly challenging because the insurance company tried again to blame our client’s injuries on preexisting conditions. Taking that route is a fairly common tactic they employ to try and diminish their responsibility. Despite our client having years without pain and despite the severe injuries and catastrophic property damage, the insurance company was adamant her present pain couldn’t have come from the accident.
To try and prove their point, they hired outside experts, including a radiologist, a neurosurgeon, and another doctor. Having been an accident attorney for as long as Dupuy has, he’ll often see the same doctors hired repeatedly by the insurance company. Typically, these are different from the doctors who have been treating the client/patient. Using the treating doctor’s opinion against the “hired defense expert” is powerful and can truly make a case.
We Do Whatever We Need To Do To Get the Case Moving
Another difficult aspect we had to overcome right at the beginning was simply serving the defense. Most people have heard of “being served” from movies or books, but it’s an essential part of the legal process. When the at fault driver didn’t want to be found, Dupuy got creative and found a way to get him served so the process could get started. “We’ve tracked people down in the middle of the desert and overseas; we do what we need to do to get the case moving,” Dupuy explains.
Through every obstacle, Dupuy and our client persevered. Right before the trial started, the insurance company decided to settle for every penny we were seeking, which was a total of $918,607.78.
Is the Insurance Company Trying To Delay or Underpay? Let’s Talk It Through
When you’ve been helping accident victims for as long as we have, you tend to get pretty good at knowing the insurance company’s tactics. Attorney Tyler Dupuy saw through the games the insurance companies were trying to play with his clients’ lives and sought the maximum recovery their cases were worth.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident and don’t feel right about what insurance tells you, you can contact a car accident attorney and discuss it. Our team will review what happened and can help outline your options to move forward.