Allstate Sued for Using Expert Witnesses to Drive Up Costs
There are times when a car wreck personal injury case has to go to trial. Most settle before lawsuits are needed, but often insurance companies deny legitimate cases and there is no choice but to file a lawsuit. Many of these automobile insurance companies have created an entire industry for doctors who no longer see patients (or see very few patients). These doctors make a living acting as expert witnesses for insurance companies. Obviously the insurance companies hire the expert witnesses who say the injury was not real, was extremely minor, or that the doctors office who treated the patient over treated or over billed for their services (many times they claim all of the above). If one of these insurance company experts found in favor of patients too often, they would no longer be hired – so naturally these experts almost always testify against the injured people.
This is definitely an issue in auto accident injury cases. For many of these doctors who act as expert witnesses for insurance companies just about their entire income is derived from filling out affidavits. Part of the purpose of hiring these experts is to make it too expensive to pursue claims these insurance companies deny.
They pay these experts a couple hundred dollars for an affidavit that is basically a "form letter" that they can fill out in minutes and use on just about every case. In each case they claim either the bills were too high, the patient treated too often, the treatment was not needed, the injury is not related to the accident, or all of the above.
I have fought these so-called experts countless times. With smaller cases the cost of fighting these experts can cost thousands of dollars - the attorney will have to get the testimony of a real doctor (one that actually sees patients) to fight their expert's allegations and with smaller cases this can end up costing more than the value of the actual case.
In February 2021 a lawsuit was filed against Allstate for hiring experts with the intent of driving up the cost of litigation. The plaintiff’s attorney involved in the lawsuit states:
"Clearly it is a strategy to increase the costs for the case to be prosecuted," said attorney Ryan Higgins. "If I spend an additional 20 hours dealing with an affidavit that is going to be struck, it is time away from plaintiffs counsel. It doesn’t ultimately impact the client himself. What it does–it is part of strategy, we believe–is to make it difficult to litigate cases against Allstate."
In 2017 one of Allstate’s experts who earns over $1,000,000 per year as an expert was banned from testifying by judges in Nevada. One of the judges took 11 days to write a 35 page opinion blasting the expert in the case.
… “a 35-page opinion mentioned that “Dr. Duke’s medical opinions are personal and his methodology unreliable. The Court further finds that Dr. Duke’s medical opinions rely heavily on speculation and other irrelevant factors.”
There are ways to fight these experts. Often they try to testify about areas of medicine they actually have no expertise in. You can get the court to limit their testimony only to areas they actually have expertise in.
They use a cut and paste format for their affidavits. Every case is different, so every case does not neatly fit into their cut and paste affidavits. If you read the affidavits carefully they often say things that just do not apply to the case at hand. This can help get the affidavits thrown out in a case.
All this takes time and money to fight. Which is exactly why the insurance companies use this tactic – to try and make the cost of pursuing legitimate claims too high to pursue. An experienced personal injury law office will know how to fight these tactics. A lawyer without that experience will likely be in over their head and will often drop the case or possibly not understand how they need to fight these tactics. People who need a auto accident lawyer should be certain they are hiring a lawyer who has experience fighting for them in personal injury cases.