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    In part two of this multiple part series of Settlement Nation, Courtney Barber chats with Jason Neville from the Spence Law Firm and Jakob Norman from Trial Lawyers for Justice – both respected and seasoned plaintiff trial lawyers, who started their careers working for the defense. In this episode, we take you behind the scenes of the defense perspective; discussing the inner workings of the defense counsel, insurance adjusters, their tactics, how they build their cases and how you can leverage this knowledge to maximize your case values and get more money - more often. // Stay tuned for Part 3. 

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    Courtney Barber:
    Welcome back to Settlement Nation and part two of our deep dive into the defense perspective with Jason Neville from The Gerry Spence Firm and Jakob Norman from Trial Lawyers For Justice. If you missed part one, make sure you go back and give it a listen, but we are going to jump right back in. Jason, a lot of people that we come into contact with have only ever practiced on the plaintiff side and they actually have a lot of negative feelings towards defense attorneys.

    Courtney Barber:
    Given that you and Jakob, as well as some of the greats that we're yet to have on the show like Nick Rowley and other plaintiff attorneys started on the defense side, it'd be nice to know more about how defense attorneys look at their cases. Maybe you could just explain a little bit about this, especially with your 19 years on that side and just give your background and some of the motivations, all defense attorneys.

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah, sure. I think maybe overall defense lawyers and plaintiff’s lawyers at a very rudimentary level, think of their cases as the same it's financial gain, the very, very basic level for you get into the bigger motivations for us as trial lawyers. But the way that we go about that financial gain is entirely different. Defense lawyers look at cases as work and bigger cases mean more depositions and more travel and more motions which is more billable hours, which is increasing the bottom line and feeding their families.

    Jason Neville:
    That can be a big frustration for us on the plaintiff side and as trial lawyers, because what we want to do is get to justice and we want to get to justice as quickly as possible and justice is getting money generally for our folks. It can be frustrating for us. Now, part of some of that frustration that you talked about is you have what I would call the true believers and you have "true believers" on the plaintiff side that they'd never seen a plaintiff that didn't deserve tens of millions of dollars and never did anything wrong to contribute to their injuries and are very vocal about that.

    Jason Neville:
    The defense side, we have the same where, boy, I can think of somebody I practiced with and against. Had a nursing background, and her husband was a physician and there was never a physician that had ever done anything wrong in his or her life and would treat every plaintiff and every plaintiff's lawyer as if they are a devil trying to do evil on good doctors of the world. That can be tough. It can be tough because as plaintiff's lawyers, when they're doing these things, not only are they hurting us potentially, financially, which is a small price to pay, but they're hurting our clients and that gets personal pretty quick.

    Jakob Norman:
    Jason, before we go on, I think it's important to know obviously you started on the defense side and you basically grew up go into your father's work, which was a defense firm. And I started at your firm as well, but I think it's important to know, and whether it's you or me or Nick Rowley, or Dan Schaar, these other plaintiff's attorneys that start at defense firms, you don't start at the defense firm saying, 'I have this goal of screwing people over.' 'I have this goal of paying less than a claims work.' Or, 'I have this goal of somehow joining the member of the dark side.'

    Jakob Norman:
    That's not really how that works. And especially for folks coming right out of law school, it's not like law school does a good job of prepping you for the law or really helping you understand the intricacies of the different kinds of practices. It's also important to know that back in the day when Jason and I were doing this in the early two thousands, we would actually still take plaintiff's cases when there wasn't a conflict with some of our other work.

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah.

    Jakob Norman:
    That happens probably more in small towns and people want to think it does where some people do things on both sides of the fence, but there's never this commitment right off the get go to go screw people over. Now, I think over time, sometimes the longer you do stuff, you get into patterns and there's some things that could be said for that and that's why it's so important to be talking to Jason who actually spent 19 years doing it before he made a switch. But I think for listeners to know, the fact of the matter is they have a job to do.

    Jakob Norman:
    As we get into the motivations, it would be nice to say, well Jason, how would you start working up the file and how was that looked at from working it up and billing in a file? How does that portion work?

    Jason Neville:
    I like to think that I looked at things a little bit differently than traditional lawyers did and a lot of that came from my father. I grew up, I remember being six years old and all I wanted to do was be a lawyer and live in Jackson Hole. And where that came from was following my dad around in the summers when he would go to depositions and he'd go to hearings and he'd take me along and he would be against and fighting against some of his best friends.

    Jason Neville:
    Then one of his best friends started The Spence Firm with Gerry Spence and they would go and sometimes I'd get to watch this a lot of times just hear about it. They would fight like crazy and fight like dogs during the day. Then at night they go to dinner and they were best friends. That's changed overall. Where number one, we don't get that interaction between plaintiff's lawyers and defense lawyers anymore. We go out and we're flying around the country.

    Jason Neville:
    You get done with a deposition and you're not necessarily going out to dinner and being cordial, you're going back to your laptop, and doing work. Some of that I think has changed the interaction between both sides to where it is more antagonistic now than maybe it was in the past. With that, it's this dissociative aspect to it to where you don't see the personal aspect of the other side. You're not having dinner with your opposing counsel learning about their conversations with their client that are protected of course, but about sitting in their kitchen crying with them about how they're going to pay their bills.

    Jason Neville:
    You don't see that. What you see is these Xs and Os, us against them. I'm getting far away from your question, but I think that's what colors a lot of what we see today. But getting back to how I would work cases up and see things, it was a very, very rare exception that I saw a case on the defense side where I ultimately concluded that the plaintiff was lying or wasn't heard or was trying to scam the system. There were a couple of times that I saw that and I tried those cases, but it was very rare and usually it was someone is hurt.

    Jason Neville:
    A lot of times they’re hurt really bad, and it's just trying to figure out, did my client do it or did they do it, but there's a legal way that I can pursue and defend them so that, I hate to say it, you're defending insurance money or corporate money that they don't have to pay as much. I try to start it all from a human aspect and maybe it made me not good at my job. I don't know, but it always was from that human aspect that if somebody was hurt, let's see how we handle it.

    Jakob Norman:
    Well, Jason, it reminds me, and I think it's important to note, you worked more on the case, but there's a case back at our firm in the day where we really believed the plaintiff was lying about their injuries and you can't always put your finger on it and this, like you said, it rarely happened to where it's a complete lie.

    Jakob Norman:
    I think you filed an offer of settlement in the amount of $1 and took it to trial and I think the theory was this was a drunk driver that got injured back when the gearstick used to be on the floor and injured his ribs on the gear shifter, but said he was the passenger and all this stuff was going on, but really the jury ended up believing him, and that was a case that probably should have never been filed. It's not like he went to his plaintiff's attorney and said, "I'm going to lie about this all." But from every once in a while, you saw something that was that gross far right.

    Jakob Norman:
    The rest is really just trying to figure out the actual value. Most of the time as a defense attorney, is it not what you were doing for those 19 years is trying to come up with that reasonable value was, fair value or honest value was?

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah, for sure. I always thought that I had... It was not an ethical duty but it was a moral obligation that I needed to get the insurance company to value the case where I thought it should be done. And if I did that and it didn't settle, well, then that's okay. We can go try the case because, assuming I'm right, then the plaintiff's counsel or the plaintiff, their value went too high. I always try to, and it was, a lot of times this dental surgery of trying to extract money out of the carrier to try to put it on the case so that it could get settled or resolved in a way that was fair.

    Jason Neville:
    The difficulty in doing that for me was this fine line of doing what's right, and doing my job, which you have ethical obligations and moral obligations, which sometimes can flip but also doing it in a way that that insurance company and that adjuster is still going to give me work. Because sometimes, and it happened and I was fired by a couple of different insurance companies because I did the right thing. And got sent a letter saying, "You've got to settle this case and you got to settle at this amount and if not, you're putting your insured at risk for excess judgment."

    Jason Neville:
    I felt that tough of doing the right thing, but also making my business partner, the insurance company happy, so they would keep feeding me work, and that's very hard for defense counsel and it's something that they deal with constantly, and you will see some that do it the right way what I would say and others that do it the wrong way and tend to just make the insurance company happy.

    Jakob Norman:
    Well, let's talk about that. Another struggle that comes out of that with partners and law firms and this whole billable hour thing that of course plaintiff's attorneys typically never track their hours until they get a fees award, and then they're trying to put it together backwards, but can you talk a little bit about that all around pressure of billable hours from your firm, your partners, down to the insurance companies that you represent or used to represent?

    Jason Neville:
    Well, sure. It's the lifeblood of any law firm or any defense law firm because that's the only way that you make money. There are very few law firms that do not have billable hour requirements, and those requirements are 1800 to 2000 to 2200 hours a year, which is a lot because you can go and you can work a full day and you could be at the office for say ten hours and I was horrible at keeping track of my time and billing my time.

    Jason Neville:
    But there would be so many days that I'd be at the office for a full day, be there for ten hours and at the end of the day, you'd look, and you'd say, "I billed three and a half hours a day. How was that possible?" And people who are efficient billers, they're, say working ten hours and doing six to seven hours. It's a tremendous amount of work that has to go into billing and then on top of that, you get the pleasure of every single insurance company that comes in and cuts your time.

    Jason Neville:
    And says, "Wait a minute, you spent ten hours writing that huge summary judgment brief? No. We're only going to pay for eight hours of that." And they do it all the time.

    Jakob Norman:
    The firm with you, I remember we'd get a report from a major national carrier. Obviously, I won't say who it is and every once in a while, it would say, "Hey, you spent five hours doing X, a paralegal could have done three hours of that, so we're going to pay you at the predetermined paralegal rate your firm. If you don't like this, you're going to have to basically tell us why you had to do what you do."

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah.

    Jakob Norman:
    And for me, the time that I would take not billing to go fight this audit firm of this national carrier, I would end up giving in and that adds up and adds up and adds up over time. You just made me think of that horrible mess of trying to justify why my hours were actually correct when I wasn't even capturing all my hours anyway.

    Jason Neville:
    Jakob, one of my biggest frustrations with the business side of it was I would make a phone call or I would do work and I would go to put my time down and in the first thought, as I'm putting it into the system and writing out my little justification is they're going to think that I'm lying. They're going to think that I am putting down too much time and they're going to cut my time. That would trigger this whole waterfall of why are you doing this work? You don't like this work. You're just a cog in the wheel. You're not doing any good in the world.

    Jason Neville:
    Every 0.2, which is 12 minutes of time that I would put down, because you had to justify every six minutes of your existence. It would remind me of why I hate my job and you're right. You would bill time and they would cut it and it would take too much time to go back and justify it, so you would let it go. And it's horrible when you're trying to do the right thing, because all you do is get your time cut, but you have these big firms that do insurance defense work, and they have great strategies for billing time, for capturing all their hours so that they can meet those billable hour requirements.

    Jason Neville:
    They're gaining the system. They're in a, this is the wrong term to use, but I'm going to use it anyway. They're cheating the insurance company to try to make more money. In order to combat that, the insurance company has to come in and review the time and cut the time in order to try to get it down to what's right. But the people that lose out on that are the people trying to do it honest. Like you and me in my old firm, you're trying to do it in the correct way and the honest way, but what you're doing is coming up against this huge behemoth that is cutting down.

    Jakob Norman:
    And the most interesting part of this when you think about a system and the way it's set up, and I don't think anything's going to change, but it's not like you're rewarded for good work. You're not paid if you do good work. There's not a different system. If the work you do is better than the defense attorney five counties away that covers that area. It's a system that where being adequate is good enough.

    Jason Neville:
    Precisely, and that was a big frustration for me. When you're a trial lawyer and you go out and you do good work and you get a good verdict or a good settlement for your client. Well, you get the emotional reward for that, which is huge and fulfilling, but you also get a financial reward. On the defense side, if I was able to get a case done early, and I was able to save $80,000 - $100,000 on defense costs because I got it done early, resolve earlier or resolve with emotion, let's say.

    Jason Neville:
    My reward was, "Okay, move on to the next case." You don't get to take the afternoon off and reward yourself because if you take the afternoon off and go have drinks with your colleagues and celebrate, the one thing everybody is thinking about is, why am I losing a whole bunch of money right now? Because you're not billing. And it bleeds over to you can be standing in line at a store and it's taking too long. And the thought that comes into your mind is, "Well, this is 0.2. You're wasting my time here. I should be billing out $300 bucks an hour, but I have to wait and listen to you for an extra six minutes?" It's a tough way to make a living as a lawyer.

    Jakob Norman:
    Well, I want to have you explore that a little bit more because I remember when we were working together at the end of the year or maybe, depending on the carrier, there's an analysis of, "Hey, what are the rates? Are we staying with you?" And those kinds of pressures or additional pressures that are coming in, because there are other defense firms ready, willing, and able to and actually aggressively want the work. Can you talk to us a little bit about that pull where you're trying to keep this person who makes sure you can feed your family while you're doing these cases and what that pressure is like year after year, just to keep insurance companies as clients?

    Jason Neville:
    Sure. Not only are you focused on doing good work, which you need to do well. You need to do adequate work and your word is perfect because if you do great work, it doesn't matter. It does not matter to the insurance carrier. I think it matters to some that are say medical malpractice carriers, because it's a bigger deal. Or if it's a carrier that the insured is a product, a manufacturer, so doing good work in those situations means something but doing great work or good work for run of the mill car accident cases, doesn't matter to the carrier.

    Jason Neville:
    Well, what matters to the carrier is the bottom line. When I use that word that you're just this cog in the wheel, your service, no matter how good of work you're doing to some of these carriers, you're just this nameless little widget that's producing for them and that can be extraordinarily frustrating and it comes to bear when you would get these invitations to keep doing work that you've done for 10 years.

    Jason Neville:
    They would say, "Okay, we're having an auction and we're inviting you, my firm, in the middle of Wyoming that does statewide work and has for this carrier for 10 years, sometimes 30 years and we're inviting this Denver firm and we're inviting this Salt Lake firm. And you are going to bid on your hourly rate and let's say they're paying $200 an hour. You can't start at $225 to get an increase, which you haven't gotten an increase in two or three years. You're going to start below your current hourly rate. And I tell you, that's frustrating.

    Jason Neville:
    I luckily was in a position for most of my career that I could say, "Well, screw you. I don't need your work out. I'll do other people's work." But my firm couldn't do that and a lot of my partners would say, "Wait a minute, we need to feed all these associates." Okay, we're going to look at doing that haircut." And that's tough. That's just the reality, I think of business and these big companies can bully the smaller folks. It's like a Walmart coming into a community and effectively shutting down the small mom and pop stores.

    Jason Neville:
    When you have carriers that are doing that, they're shutting down the smaller firms that have done work for them forever, good work, and catering to these bigger regional firms that Jackson talked about before can be these big mills.

    Jakob Norman:
    Well, if that's a little bit of the negative aspect, Jason, for again, those people don't know. In efforts to strengthen relationships with carriers, is there dinners, is there getaways, is there anything like that going on on the other side? Is there wining and dining, some other secret sauce going on that the average plaintiff's attorney may not know about?

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah. There's a little bit of that. They have rules against taking gifts and things such as that. Sometimes you'd be out at a mediation or sometimes you have an adjuster attend depositions and you could try to buy them dinner and a lot of times they would refuse. What it's turned into is defense firms are part of larger national groups where there'll be a large group. Well, obviously a group like US Law, which is a great group, and it's catered to defense firms and it's an international group and they will have one firm from each state.

    Jason Neville:
    The goal of it is to try to bring work together, to spread it out amongst the state. We have a firm in Florida, that's a member of this group and they have clients that do trucking. You come to these national conferences or these regional conferences, and they'll introduce the Wyoming folks to their clients who do trucking and hopefully you can then get together and you can share work that way. That's the way that I see that the marketing goes for defense firms, because it's really hard to market yourself to insurance companies. There's just not that real avenue to do that.

    Jason Neville:
    Running commercials or website stuff is ineffective. You have to get it to the higher ups at the insurance company, and those higher ups are folks that would come to those national organization types of things. It used to be, we could just go out and we would go to an insurance company say in Denver where they would have an arm and we would take the supervisors out dinner, or you take the adjusters out to dinner and you would have that relationship. But as things have progressed, it's not those individual adjusters that are choosing their lawyers.

    Jason Neville:
    It's the higher ups, the supervisors that are having "panel counsel" saying, "Okay, these three people in the state of Wyoming or Montana or Iowa or wherever those are the people that can do our work. and adjusters, send your work to these people." There's not a lot of wining and dining. At some level there is, but for most firms not so much.

    Jakob Norman:
    Well, and going back to the whole balance thing, and I think where plaintiff's attorneys get frustrated with defense attorneys sometimes is how long it takes them to evaluate what hoops have to be jumped through in order to settle. But as a young attorney that started out at a defense firm, there really wasn't an incentive from anyone from the insurance side, from you as a senior associate when you became a partner to the real partners to hurry up and settle a case, instead it was, "Let's work this case up."

    Jakob Norman:
    In other words, how could I even give advice to an insurance company to settle if I haven't done what would be the defense due diligence? Could you talk a little bit about why there's not an incentive in the system to quickly resolve cases?

    Jason Neville:
    If a law firm resolves cases early that's work with they're skimming away, and there are firms, not my old firm, that you have to go through and take every deposition and file every motion and then you can think about settling the case. That's what they're telling the insurance adjusters. Now, my experience is with rare exception, the insurance companies wanted you to go out and aggressively pursue the case. And if you would come to them and say, "Hey, we can get this done for X amount."

    Jason Neville:
    They would hear it, and they want you to aggressively pursue the case because they want to bill their file. And they want to bill their file both as the adjuster to justify their work and their existence and showing their supervisors that they're doing good work. But also that insurance company that they have internal audits to make sure that they're not just giving money out without justification. They have external audits because some of these are public companies to make sure that they're not just giving money out without doing due diligence.

    Jason Neville:
    Another thing, a lot of these companies, they have reinsurance. They have insurance on their policies that are in litigation, and when they reach a certain amount, then the reinsurance kicks in to compensate them for the extra money that they're going to have to pay out. There's a lot of corporate push down with respect to paying claims and the result is, you and I would talk about it and we were thinking maybe I'm not a very good business person, but I would think, "Boy, if, if I could pay an extra $20,000 on a claim, then I think it's worth, but I'm saving $80,000 on defense costs, one ahead of the game."

    Jason Neville:
    For some reason, that's bad business and the results of all this push down is the defense counsel are encouraged to go out and do all the work.

    Jakob Norman:
    Well, and you're exactly right and we were. I remember I was involved in a tire case at our previous firm and I would fly to Ohio and I would do an hour and a half deposition and getting from Wyoming to Ohio probably took 12 hours. Then I'd stay at a hotel wake up the next day, do an hour and a half deposition and come back. And there was never once a flinch that was bad and not the right thing to do. And of course, every hour on the airplane, I was billing every hour. Preparation for the depo, the depo itself, and then every hour getting back.

    Jakob Norman:
    You've done it all over the country. I've done it all over the country and that was actually looked at as good work. I wonder if COVID and the ability for depositions to take place on Zoom and stuff like that, if that's really hitting the bottom line of some of these insurance defense firms that now there's been a model that's proven that you don't have to travel as much. You don't have to travel to go to court, you don't have to travel for depositions. You don't have to travel for mediation. Do you have any thoughts on that?

    Jakob Norman:
    And I know you weren't a defense person when COVID hit but in the 19 years that you were, I could imagine these firms would be taking a hit just on travel alone.

    Jason Neville:
    Huge. Huge. I've talked to some of my former colleagues about their thoughts on this, and they're scooped about it and I would be too, because I'm not a great person sitting at my desk. I need to be moving and doing things. I made my money by traveling all over the country and fortunately not being home very much. And now you don't have to do that. That's just the bottom line for the insurance companies. From our side, prior to being really forced into doing a lot of video stuff, I think the predominant wisdom was, "Hey, you got to be there in person for the experts and for the defendants and things such as that."

    Jason Neville:
    We've been thrust into this now, this year of having to do defense via video or having to do big complicated experts with a lot of exhibits by video. And it's pretty close to being there in person. I hate to say it, but it's pretty close to being there in person. I think COVID is going to really change the game for insurance defense and the travel is going to be cut down to very minimal and it's going to be a lot of stuff by video, but which for us is a good thing. We're going to be saving a whole lot of costs for our clients and a whole lot way to care for our bodies on being on airplanes.

    Jakob Norman:
    Well, yeah, and this is part of the interesting relationship that you have with the carrier, again, you have with the partners. If we talk a little bit about the client. Obviously the clients, the insured, there's a time where it seems confusing who the client is when the insurance company is the one that's asking you for your notes. The insurance company is the one that's making you give litigation budgets; the insurance company is the one that pays your bills.

    Jakob Norman:
    Can you talk a little bit about the relationship with these two different parties or this tripartite relationship between actual person paying to have insurance coverage, the insurer who provides the coverage and you in your role as a defense counsel for all those years?

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah, and it's a tough relationship and each state is a little bit different with respect to the duties owed and that tripartite relationship. Some states, there are more duties that are owed to the insurance company than other states. For the most part, generally, all your ethical obligations and your duties are owed to your client. You have some obligations of course, to the insurance. It is a real struggle as we've touched on earlier where they're paying your bills and you've got to make them happy or happy enough to give you another case in the future, or to give you a lot of cases in the future.

    Jason Neville:
    And if you're telling them what they don't want to hear all the time, they're less likely to give you cases in the future. If you're constantly telling them, "Hey dummies, you need to pay money on this and you're way too low on your valuation." Well, they don't like to hear that. They don't like to hear it as a company, an adjuster doesn't like to hear it, because they've got to then go spend more time with their supervisor asking for more money and guess what? They're not saying, "Supervisor, hey, I made a mistake in this and I need this."

    Jason Neville:
    They're saying, "Hey, this defense attorney just worked this case out and now he tells me he's not going to go try the case because it's worthwhile. We've got to settle the case." It's a tough relationship. In our firm, it was always, the client was running all of your duties. There were times that I would have to take that hard stand with the insurance company. For example, when you'd have a case that they've gotten to an excess situation.

    Jason Neville:
    The first thing I did was call the insurance company and say, "Hey, this is an excess I'm going to send you a letter that demands you settle this case on behalf of my client. And I'm going to get outside person counsel for your insured and my client to do the same." A lot of carriers understood this and they knew that was part of your duties, but there were some quite frankly, they would just get extraordinarily upset where they would get that letter from me saying, you have to settle this case and they would call up, scream and I got fired a couple of times for doing that.

    Jason Neville:
    Because I did what in my view was the right thing for the client, but what they are accustomed to is defense counsel so it tore them apart.

    Jakob Norman:
    When you're communicating with the insured, would you have these kinds of frank conversations? I know there's a reason why you'd put it in writing to the insurance company, but could you actually have a conversation with the insured and say, “Look, there's some exposure here and because of what's happened in this case, they may be able to come after your assets and that excess, if there were an excess judgment in this case." Would you call somebody up and go through that with them?

    Jason Neville:
    The client, you mean?

    Jakob Norman:
    Yeah. The client.

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah. For sure because for the most part, except for sometimes when you're representing a company and let's say it's an oil company, and there's a big bad wreck or explosion. Or if it was a physician, and even in those situations, they don't want to be bothered with the litigation. That's why they pay insurance. A lot of times when you're calling up your client and you're the lawyer, and you're calling them up to say, "Hey, I'm doing this on your behalf and here are the real risks here." You're bothering them. That's just human nature.

    Jason Neville:
    They pay insurance, they want it to be resolved. But there are times when I would forward the settlement demand to the client and they would call up saying, "Oh my God, are they coming after my house?" Or, "Are they coming after my 401k?" They would think, and you would have to walk them through, “Okay. Here's their demand. I don't value the case this way. They want $2 million. I think the case, if it gets away from us is an $800,000 case, but really it's a $400,000 case."

    Jason Neville:
    And you have to walk them through that, but then always assure them, "Hey, if I ever think that your assets are a risk, I'm telling you, and you're going to find personal counsel, I'm going to help you do that. And also I'm going to send a separate letter to the insurance company, demanding they protect you." People do get concerned and there's a real value as a trial lawyer in the right case, not in every case, in the right case to be sending those letters saying, "Hey, your client, your insured is at risk, and if you don't settle this case, buy into and come out."

    Jason Neville:
    Because you have to say that, in order to be able to get to the excess, to get to break up the policy. Yeah, sometimes those are scary, hard conversations.

    Jakob Norman:
    And Jason, I think practically, as you know, one of the big teachings of Nick Rowley and Running with the Bulls is of course, to say, "And let the client know, hey, you may need personal counsel here." But a lot of these cases, there's not a lot of insurance, people have the state minimums, or even if there is more insurance, they may not have the money to go get personal counsel. How do you walk somebody through potential exposure when they might not even have the wherewithal to hire a private counsel to review the case and the exposure?

    Jason Neville:
    Yeah. Well, I'll tell you what I did is almost 90% of the time personal counsel was a buddy of mine that did plaintiff's work and I'd say, "Hey, here's a letter, put this on your letterhead if you don't mind and send this on behalf of your new client." Then they would do that because it helping real people. But you're right, if you have a situation of a more limit case or people who aren't sophisticated and have the financial ability to go get a lawyer, they're not going to go pay a lawyer a few thousand dollars. They can't. To take a peek into a case and write a good demand letter for them. They just can't.

    Jakob Norman:
    I think one thing the folks will find interesting is this whole idea that you get fired from insurance companies when basically telling them they have a duty and that duty is to provide coverage and you're recommending that they provide that coverage. I know you had a case that you told me about previously that you did this letter, you ended up getting a great judgment, and then you ended up getting fired. Could you tell that story for the folks listening?

    Jason Neville:
    Sure, and it wasn't a judgment. It was just a settlement, but it was a case. It was a shoulder injury, and I think they only had $100,000 of a policy. We're going through and trying to determine, hey, what's the extent of the shoulder injury? Is it a sprain? Is it something where they're going to go need surgical intervention for, and have problems throughout their life?

    Jason Neville:
    Because if it's just a sprain, maybe it's not a big deal and it's certainly not worth a hundred thousand dollars, but if they need a surgical intervention and it is going to be something that's going to affect them, well, how is this going to break open the policy. We work the case out and I came to the conclusion that, yeah, it is a real case and it is something that is going to get passed in the policy. I want to say here, it was a long time ago, and I'm trying to remember back the values.

    Jason Neville:
    But I want to say the carrier wanted to pay $40,000 a month and then that was their top dollar and the plaintiff's lawyer, I think they wanted to make $60-65,000. And it was a liability case, there was no defense. I talk to the adjuster on the phone and say, "Hey, you're going to pay me more money to go try this case and that's the cost of admission, only for the benefit of paying out at least $25-30,000, for the judgment or on top of that, maybe $150-200,000 on a verdict." And they would say, "We don't care. We're going to go forward and try the case. We don't care."

    Jason Neville:
    And I said, "Okay. You could do that, but you need to send a letter indemnifying by my client, your insurer of an excess." And they said, "We don't do that." I said, "Okay." So I wrote them a letter and I detailed that in writing because of course on the phone, that doesn't matter because there's no record. I detailed that. The cost of trying a case, and then the very real aspect of putting their insured at risk. I wrote that letter, they call me up, they said, "Okay, pay the $65,000 or whatever it was."

    Jason Neville:
    Which was a great settlement, quite frankly for a defenseless settlement. And then they spent thirty minutes screaming at me and taking all my cases away.

    Courtney Barber:
    I really appreciate Jason and Jakob, you providing some insight into the rest of us about how this all works behind the scenes, because as you said, it's so unknown, especially for a lot of our listeners that the only interactions they’ve had with the defense have been one on one side, one on the other, and probably not that positive. I really do appreciate this. And for everyone listening, if you are enjoying this episode, make sure you do stay tuned for part three of this interview, where we cover settlement opportunity letters, settlements, plus we actually answer your questions live.

    Courtney Barber:
    Make sure you do comment in with your questions because we will be covering them from part one and part two. Remember to like comment and subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to Settlement Nation.

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