I just hung up with an adjuster from Erie. One thing I can say about Erie is that the Erie adjusters – particularly in larger cases – are pretty sophisticated. Agree or disagree with them, they are usually very sharp. Their defense lawyers – Erie relies on Rollins Smalkin a lot in the Baltimore area and McCarthy Wilson throughout much of the rest of Maryland – are very competent and generally easy to deal with on personal injury claims. So when I see an Erie defendant, I expect a worthy but reasonable adversary.
The call was for settlement on an uninsured auto accident case. The client lost $48,000 in wages and $71,000 in medical bills The Erie adjuster does not question the legitimacy of the wages or the medical care rendered. Instead, she wanted to know whether my client had been paid for the lost wages and the amount of his medical liens. She called these “the big unanswered questions in the case.”
I explained that none of these issues were relevant at trial under Maryland’s collateral source rule. The Erie adjuster responded that she thought that we were not talking about trial value, we were talking about settlement. Somehow, I thought these two things were related.
This is a case where Maryland’s new first party bad faith law is going to come in handy. [2013 Update: this law is useless. What a fool I was!] I suspect after talking to the client, the next step is going to be the Maryland Insurance Commission.