Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Sep 20, 2012

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Insurance companies are in the business of making money. They do that by paying out as little as possible when it comes to claims involving California car accidents. In order to accomplish that, they often collect data on which attorneys routinely settle cases and which attorneys will take a case to trial.

The “secret” list

We asked Matthew Nezhad, a California attorney whose practice is dedicated to handling personal injury claims and cases for injury victims throughout California, whether he really believes that insurance companies have a list of attorneys that they know would rather settle a car accident case for less than go through the trouble of taking it to trial? His answer? “Absolutely.” He explained:

They do not want to admit to this, but I’ve talked to various adjusters and representatives from insurance companies. In fact, one of my previous partners was an insurance company defense attorney, so I do know exactly what goes on in there and, yes, they do have a list, they do have some sort of an idea as to whether an attorney will try a case or throw in the towel if it comes to that point. So, they know who they can and can’t push around. Dealing with an attorney who’s aggressive and has knowledge and experience in these matters means that insurance companies know not to mess with you – and that they’ll eventually pay up.

Don’t accept policy limits

Focusing in this area of law, Nezhad has seen it all and is often shocked that some attorneys will simply accept the limits of an insurance policy to move on to the next case. He provided the following example from one of his recent cases:

There was a pedestrian that was standing on the corner of a street in North Hollywood, California. Two cars collided and one of them loses control and hits the pedestrian. The pedestrian’s attorney was just going to accept the policy limits of the car that hit her, which was $100,000. She was referred to us and we immediately knew that it’s not only that car that could be held responsible, it would probably be the property owner because of the way that area was constructed. Obviously, we filed a lawsuit against several parties and ended up recovering millions for the client.

When you know what you’re doing, when you’re experienced in this field, then you’ll know exactly what to look for and who to go after, according to Nezhad. Had that client had stayed with her previous attorney, it seems clear that she would have walked away with pretty much nothing.