Back in the old days insurers would offer peanuts on injury cases worth less than $10,000 because insures believed few personal injury lawyers would take such cases due to the cost of litigation relative to the value of a case. To address this problem the Oregon legislature enacted ORS 20.080. That law provides for attorney fees and costs in the event:
• A demand for $10,000 or less is made in compliance with ORS 20.080; and
• The plaintiff is eventually awarded more than is offered within 30 days of the demand
ORS 20.080, for the most part, dissuaded insurers from taking unreasonable positions for fear of having to pay an injured person’s attorney fees. Then, something changed.
Allstate began routinely appealing arbitration award apparently so new Allstate lawyers could get trial experience. I can understand why. After all, the best training is the real deal.
Meanwhile, Allstate wastes time… the plaintiff’s time, the defendant’s time, jurors time, judges time, court staff time and of course lawyers’ time. Allstate’s choice to waste time comes as Oregon Courts struggle to stretch resources and while many Oregon courts switch to electronic systems.
Allstate’s unethical tactics have become legendary after David Berardinelli’s 2008 book From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves: The Dark Side of Insurance. Just as Allstate’s methods changed the insurance industry for the worse back in the 90s, Allstate’s at it again!
Other insurers, including Geico, seem to be following suit by also appealing awards to trial on small 20.080 injury claims. The solution? Win at trial, keep good time records and force bad actor insurance companies to pay high attorney fee awards.