Does It Really Matter If The Insurance Company Uses A Computer Program To Determine The Value Of Your Personal Injury Case?
Other articles on this site discuss computer settlement software such as the Colossus program utilized by Allstate, among others, and the TEACH program utilized by State Farm. Years ago, many, if not most major insurance companies began to use settlement software to arrive at the dollar figure they would extend as an offer of settlement in a personal injury case. There has been exhaustive commentary on computer settlement software ever since. Indeed, I Attorney Eric T. Kirk wrote extensively about these programs in other articles. Common complaints about this process are that:
- it removes the human element from the settlement evaluation process.
- more ominously, that it is possible to manipulate the settlement software to create artificially low settlement offers.
Settlement software is certainly not illegal. No regulatory body, such as the administrative agencies that oversee insurance companies in all 50 states, [e.g. the Maryland Insurance Administration] have disapproved of the use of computer settlement software. Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment.
If an insurance company is going to extend and unreasonably low and unacceptable settlement offer in your personal injury case, does it really matter if that number came from a computer or from a human being?
From that practical viewpoint, the source of the offer, or the precise method used to arrive at it, is irrelevant. It is still an offer you are going to reject. The only way to challenge the offer, if it is indeed the top offer with all money on the table, is to file a lawsuit and ask a jury or a judge to determine what fair compensation for the personal injury victim is. A vital role of a personal injury attorney is to properly, fully and fairly evaluate the worth or value of their client’s personal injury claims.
Once a reasonable range of a value is determined and assigned, the most important role of a personal injury lawyer is to achieve something within that reasonable range of value as a financial recovery for the client -whether through settlement or by resort to litigation. From this practical perspective, when a verdict is handed down by a jury, the “Colossus number” or the “TEACH number”, i.e. prior unreasonable settlement offers determined by a computer, are no more than irrelevant objects in the rearview mirror.