Settling Without a Personal Injury Lawyer? Beware of this Unethical Strategy used by Auto-Insurance Companies.

Car accidents happen. The overall number of accidents over the last couple of decades has steadily been decreasing, but there are still individual years that see the number go up from the year before. For example, in 2021, the number of car accidents went up 1.3% as compared to 2020. 

The number of serious injuries due to car accidents went up 4% in 2021, as compared to 2020. Whether an accident is “serious” or not, personal injury claims are often involved. One such case involved our client, Ryan. 

Here’s what happened when Ryan first tried to settle the case by himself. 

What Happened

In August of 2022, Ryan was driving when his vehicle was rear-ended. As a result, he received WAD II injuries to his mid- and lower back; he experienced sprains and strains in his neck, shoulders, hips and jaw; headaches; sleep disturbances as well as some driving anxiety. 

He had to visit a physiotherapist for 46 treatment sessions over a span of seven months. He had chart notes from the physiotherapist, which showed proof of his injuries and the treatment he needed as a result. It’s also important to note that Ryan had no pre-existing injuries prior to this incident.


Case: Couch v Olatiregun, 2023 ABKB 104

We will revisit Ryan’s case in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at a case that insurance companies have been loving, and why it’s relevant to Ryan’s story! 

In the case of Couch v Olatiregun, the plaintiff (the person who filed the personal injury claim) potentially had a very minor aggravation of a pre-existing injury due to his car accident. There’s actually a possibility that he had no aggravation of his pre-existing injury at all. 

As the case states, “He did not present to a medical doctor but did see his chiropractor 76 times in the years post-MVA (motor vehicle accident) leading up to the one-day trial of his injury claim in January of 2023.  Notably, however, he had also seen that same chiropractor 130 times for virtually identical complaints in the five years pre-MVA.” 


In short, this means that the plaintiff had already seen his chiropractor 130 times in the five years before he got in an accident for the same complaints and reasons he was now giving after the accident. This shows that the accident wasn’t necessarily the cause of his injuries, as it sounds like he had already been dealing with these same problems for years. 

Additionally, he didn’t have much proof at all for his injuries, and he refused to let his chiropractor act as a witness in his case. Due to this, he was awarded only $3,000.00 (plus a little bit extra for his out-of-pocket expenses) for his 76 treatment sessions over nine months. This compensation was for a WAD I exacerbation of a pre-existing injury (no other injuries and the evidence provided was terrible). 

Ryan’s Experience

Let’s go back to Ryan. Because of the case we just looked at (Couch v Olatiregun), insurance company adjusters are now trying to compare other car accidents to this case. The statements are usually something along the lines of, “This case is like yours, so your file is only worth $3,000.00!” And sadly, Albertans are falling for it. 

When Ryan first tried to settle his case without a lawyer, this is exactly what happened to him. The adjuster compared Ryan’s case (with injuries and emotional suffering due to the accident, no pre-existing injuries, and plenty of excellent evidence of his injuries and treatments) to the Couch v Olatiregun case. 


This is an exact quote from the adjuster: “I invite you to review the case of – Couch v Olatiregun, 2023 ABKB 104. This case is similar in the injuries as well as circumstance. However, I will mention that this case does have a much higher reported pain than that reflected in your physio charts for yourself. Likewise, he was back to his “Normal” after one year. Whereas you had a return to your pre-MVA status after 6-7 Months. This case’s award was $4,722.00. Specifically, $3,000.00 for Generals.”

When Ryan came to us (yes, he hired McGuiness Law!) and we learned of his exchange with the adjuster, we were shocked. We know that adjusters don’t have a duty to protect the rights or interests of injured Albertans (as personal injury lawyers, we’ve seen this time and time again with our clients). However, we would’ve hoped that they would at least negotiate in good faith. Instead, this adjuster (and many others) cherry-picked case law and then lied about it to an injured individual. Quoting case law is done on purpose, as a strategy to intimidate regular Albertans and encourage them to accept whatever is being offered.

In our opinion, this is an unethical practice in the auto insurance industry!

How it Ended

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending! 

After Ryan hired McGuiness Law, we negotiated for him using the exact same evidence he had provided to the adjuster. Instead of settling for $3,000.00, he ended up receiving a settlement of $37,500.00 plus out-of-pocket expenses! 

This happened within only eight weeks of signing up. 

We can’t encourage you enough to make use of our free, no-obligation consultations. Transparency and honesty are values of ours, which is why we inform you if the settlement offer you have received is fair and that we won’t take you on as a client. Or, we let you know that you’d benefit from working with us, and we ensure that you don’t leave thousands of dollars on the table. 

If the cost of a personal injury lawyer is what’s making you hesitant, rest assured that there are no up-front costs, and we only take a portion of your settlement when you win the case. We can go over all of those details with you before you choose to work with us. 

To connect with us, please use our toll-free number at 1-833-585-4145 or use the contact form on our website.