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The Truth about Colossus: Are You Just A Magnetic Image?

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What is Colossus?

Colossus is software licensed to about twenty-five insurance companies to aid in predicting the settlement value of claims. The insurance industry maintains it is a useful tool because it considers a great many factors, and the settlement values are just a range for use in any way the insurer wishes. The claimants’ attorneys, on the other hand, maintain that the software is only so good as the data input, and we never know what the adjuster has input; that it does not consider interference with normal life activities, or other valid indications of pain and suffering normally proved by lay testimony instead of medical testimony (as required by Colossus); and that it is NOT merely a beginning point, but is instead the FINAL WORD ON VALUE that the adjuster has to adhere to, or else risk unfavorable management reviews.

How would you like to know that only a part of all you are suffering will be compensated? Unless data are input, how can a computer quantify your emotional distress, or the loss of enjoyment of life because you no longer can take long walks with your spouse, or the pain and despair you suffer each day because your work hurts you and interferes with your healing? Unless all of your circumstances are included, is it fair to quantify all you have suffered and reduce to a dollar value based upon some factors that may or may not reflect your condition?

That is the essence of the Colossus software. It is an attempt by some insurance companies to value claims with no consideration at all given to whether or not a jury might award you more than the “average” claimant. They plug in such things as damage to the vehicles and expected length of treatment and allowable cost of treatment and many other variables and then come up with a number for the value of the claim. No consideration whatsoever is given to the extent of your actual pain and suffering.

Nor is any consideration whatsoever given to the fact that you might have a job where your injuries cause continued pain, or which slows your healing (consider, for example a waitress, or a person who has to stand all shift). They do not know, nor do they care, that you cannot hold your baby because of the pain in your neck and back. There is no room in the formula for such information.

But the problem is that in our system, it is the jury that is supposed to be the basis for determining the value of a claim, and juries do tend to listen to and consider many of the factors that Colossus ignores. Juries do make a distinction based upon whether or not they think the plaintiff is believable, or has attributes we value in our society, such as the virtues of honesty, perseverance, humility, or patience, for example.

Colossus has no way to evaluate those positive traits, so if you are possessed of anything positive that is likely to bring you a larger jury verdict, it will not be included in the Colossus valuation. You will have become a magnetic image, no different in regard to your positive characteristics than the magnetic image of any other of thousands of claimants with injuries similar to yours.

The real problem with Colossus is that the adjuster for your claim is just about stuck with the results that come out of the computer. Of course the insurance company will deny this, and will tell the media and the state insurance commissioner that Colossus is nothing more than an evaluation tool. It just gives a starting point, they say, from which the adjuster can move up if the facts of the case merit it. That is not at all true.

The Colossus result is a position that is increasingly locked in, and the adjuster who wishes to vary from it because of the facts of an unusual case, had better be ready to justify it. Furthermore, how many times do you think any adjuster trying to make the cut at an insurance company is going to go to her boss and ask for permission to exceed the Colossus determination of value? Considering that her evaluation and merit pay will be based upon how “efficiently” (read that to mean cheaply, or “hard-line”) she settles her cases, do you think she will ever go to her boss to ask for more money than allowed by Colossus? Not very likely.

Colossus is a well-kept secret by the insurance companies that use it, and they will likely not tell you if they have licensed the software. It is the market leader bodily injury claims-handling software used by an increasing number of insurance companies in the world. According to Computer Sciences Corporation, the company which produces Colossus, it is used by more than 50 per cent of the nation’s claim adjusters and by more than 300 insurance companies. Out of the top 20 US Property and Casualty Insurers, 13 are using Colossus.

Most claims insurance adjusters use computer software to appraise any insurance claim that you make. CSC claims that Colossus can evaluate more than 600 type of injuries based on 10,000 different rules. This way, adjusters will obtain a figure from Colossus software and then offer it to you to settle your claim. Insurance companies claim that their adjusters are not required to settle within the suggested Colossus calculations, but that is truly nonsense, and should be investigated by the nation’s insurance commissioners.

How does it work?

Neither insurance companies nor CSC will divulge exactly how they determine the Colossus baseline value. Most of Colossus’ calculation of your claim is based on insurance data to which you don’t have access, and insurance companies certainly do not want former insurance adjusters to tell anything about it either, see the article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ([http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/93800_insurance01.shtml]).

However we do know that the value of your claim will differ greatly from one region to another and also by the baseline that your insurance company has set. For example, auto insurers using the software select a number of closed, already-settled claims from each region in which they do business to provide the “baseline” settlement value for each type of injury. For example, an insurer might pick 200 back injury cases from a particular region that previously settled for between $1,000 and $5,000 and enter them into the Colossus program. Based on this past settlement data, Colossus calculates a settlement range for similar claims. Therefore the baseline value will be different for each insurer.

But who is there to ensure that the closed claims selected truly represent the norm? Wouldn’t it be in the interests of the insurance industry to “pad” the research by holding back reports of high value settlements? There is no assurance whatsoever that Colossus represents anything other than what best serves the interests of the insurance industry. No one has certified that the base from which the data are drawn was fairly and objectively constructed.

By using Colossus, most insurance companies will try to lower the value of your claim, and will not take into consideration stress, or emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (relationship), inability to participate in activities that you used to enjoy, or any number of other things that a jury will consider. These factors are not accounted for by the Colossus software.

What Should You Do?

The first thing to do is to determine whether or not the company you are dealing with uses Colossus for any purpose in its claims process. Here is a list obtained through the media, of companies that will admit to using Colossus for some purpose in their claims valuation process.

The following companies are known to license COLOSSUS:

  • Aetna
  • Allstate (since 1997)
  • American National Property and Casualty (since 1997 in 38 states)
  • American Family Group of Madison (since 1996)
  • Arrow Claims Management (since 1997)
  • AXA Insurance (based in UK, one of the world’s largest insurance group) (2001)
  • Bishopsgate Insurance (since 2000)
  • Explorer Insurance Company (1997)
  • Farmers Insurance Group of Companies (2000)
  • Federated Mutual Insurance Company (1998)
  • General Casualty Insurance Companies (1998)
  • Grange Mutual Casualty Companies (1998)
  • Great American Insurance Company (1998)
  • Hartford Financial Services (2000)
  • Keystone Insurance Companies of Philadelphia
  • Metropolitan Group, Rhode Island Norwich Union
  • Motorist Mutual –American Hardware Insurance Group (1998)
  • Ohio Casualty Group of Insurance Companies (1998)
  • State Auto Insurance Companies of Columbus (1996)
  • 20th Century Industries (1997)
  • Travelers/Aetna Property Casualty (1996)
  • United Services Automobile Association (USAA) (1997)
  • Utica Mutual Insurance Company (2000)
  • Zurich Personal Insurance (1998)

Therefore, we recommend that you follow carefully our advice on this topic to avoid allowing the insurance company an upper hand in resolution of your claim. How could this valuation software allow them the upper hand? First, as documented above, this is a software program that will produce a result that is in favor of the insurance industry. It does not include factors that may cause real interference with healing, or which may result in many nights of disturbed sleep.

Be it the tortfeasor’s company or your own insurance company, if the company that you are going to deal with for a general damages award has licensed Colossus, we recommend that you consider that in your negotiations. For example, since Colossus produces only an “expected” result based upon an “average” from input verdicts and settlements, you would want to call to the attention of the adjuster any facts that put your situation outside of the norm.

Let’s say that you are a waitress and you sustained a soft tissue injury to your neck and low back. No matter how good and helpful your medical treatment or no matter how much healing you achieve from a couple of days off of work, your condition will worsen just as soon as you again start carrying those trays full of food or drinks. The weight of that tray on one side or the other will make your injuries worse, and it will be much more difficult for you to obtain healing.

Another example might be a single mother who has to pick up her 11 month old baby frequently. She will suffer continued pain from her accident injuries a lot longer than a person who does not otherwise burden healing tissue. Think of how many times a day she has to pick up that child, and what a strain that puts on her neck and back.

Now do you think there is any way that either of these—or like—situations will be covered or considered in the Colossus result? Of course there isn’t. This is the old adage of: “Garbage In—Garbage Out”. Since the computer was not queried or programmed to consider either of these circumstances, then it is your job to provide sufficient information to the adjuster to allow her to modify the result from Colossus by making another set of information inputs to the program.

What you have to do is to think about your situation and come up with some aspect of your case that may be a little different than the norm. Then you will make note of that situation in a letter to the adjuster and ask her to confirm that in her evaluation she will make allowance for your situation notwithstanding the result suggested by Colossus. A good resource to consult to get such a letter would be a website specialized in personal injury claim such as SettlementCentral.Com (http://www.settlementcentral.com)

If she does not respond, or if she does not agree to make allowance for your particular situation, we suggest you warn her that you will write to the insurance commissioner. Again, consult the SettlementCentral.Com website (http://www.settlementcentral.com) as they do provide a sample demand letter. As a next step, we suggest that you write to your state insurance commissioner and complain about the use of Colossus. Finally, we think that your state Trial Lawyers Association may have some information or suggestions on legislation to curtail the total reliance on Colossus.

Another key to working with an adjuster who is using Colossus is to make sure your medical record documents everything in a way that the software will reward. There are three key elements to this requirement, and you control only one of them: the other two are held by your doctor (who may not wish to make adequate documentation) and the adjuster (who may not cooperate to let you know what format is required for information to be understood by Colossus).

You will need the cooperation of the adjuster to tell you what format would be helpful to him in getting you full value for your claim. Ask him about the quality of your medical records. Which records were most useful, and which records were virtually useless. He should be able to tell you. This person is not an actual enemy; he has a job to do in this mission, and so do you; you need each other to ensure the case is settled fairly and amicably.

Solicit the adjuster’s cooperation to let you know the specific injuries and specific complaints used to evaluate the claim. Since each complaint and injury must be documented in a medical report to be considered by Colossus, ask him to help you by telling you which doctor needs to make a supplementary record in this case.

If you don’t have a good medical record, you will have to obtain a narrative report from your doctor, or get him to make specific findings that are translatable to input into Colossus.

Additional information such as a letter to the insurance adjuster regarding Colossus, letter to the insurance commissioner, and other Colossus references are available for free on our website at: http://www.settlementcentral.com

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Finance

How To Start A Roasted Corn Business

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Corn roasting is a simple yet very profitable small investment business. The successful corn roasters make full time living working just the summer months.

To start a roasted corn business you will need to acquire permits and business licenses from the health department and from the state. The following is a typical checklist to start your business.

1. Decide the size and the scale of the operation.

2. Decide on the menu for your concession business.

3. Purchase your equipment and tools.

4. Register your business.

5. Apply and obtain all the required licenses and permits needed to run a food concession business.

6. Secure events and have fun running your concession stand.

Permits, Licenses, and Inspection

Every state has laws governing business licenses and permits. Most likely, you will have to register your business with the state agency, so you can do business in the state. A tax ID number, business license number, and tax registration number can be issued to your business, depending on the state in which you are operating. You should verify with the city or county that the business location is zoned for that activity. You must have commercial liability insurance, both for your business and for your vehicle and trailer.

Health Department and Food safety

As a business owner and a food worker, you will be preparing food for other people. Contact the health department of your county or state to receive a copy of a food safety guide that will help you greatly in learning more about food safety. Roasted corn is considered a less hazardous food, but if you are going to sell potatoes and turkey legs you may have to pay higher fee.

Start-up Costs of a Corn Roaster Business

Brand new corn roaster with warranty: 10,000-$12,000.

Used corn roaster: $5,000-$8,000.

Additional equipment and accessories: $1,200-$2,000.

Used van or truck: $2,000-$10,000.

Food cost for first two events: $300-$1,000.

Event sign-up fee: $800-$3,000.

Fuel, utilities, and miscellaneous: $200.

Equipment Required to Start a Corn Roasting Business

A professional corn roaster, minimum 200-500 corns per hour.

Hot plate for melting butter

Steam table for storing cooked potatoes and turkey legs.

Two 20-lb. propane tanks

Fire extinguisher

Commercial quality tent

2 tables,

Hand washing unit (portable) very easy to assemble one

Mics. Little things

Google “Corn Roasters” and search for companies that will help you get started before buying the equipment if you are strapped for cash. One of the company Texas Corn Roasters help.

How to Find Events and Festivals

There are many sources for finding festivals and events, such as your vendor friends, the local Chamber of Commerce, auto racing, fairs and festivals, flea markets, rodeos, and theme parks. The Internet is one of the greatest sources for finding events. Many good sites provide this information. Always send a professionally done proposal with your application if you want to beat the competition.

Suppliers and Producers

Suppliers and produce wholesalers are your key to success in this business. You cannot afford to buy the food from retailers, so you must find producers capable of providing you quality food at wholesale costs. Every state and big town has a local supplier who delivers food supplies to local restaurants. “Wholesale food distributor” in the Yellow Pages is a good place to start. Corn is cheap if buy from a wholesaler.

Serving food at the festival

The way you serve can also improve your business. You will need certain condiments for every item you server. For instance sale, black pepper, Cajun spice, garlic powder, lemon pepper and more.

Signage

You have probably heard the saying “flash is cash.” It is very true when it comes to the festival business. You could have the most delicious food, best prices, well-trained staff, and a festival with thousands of people. If your booth fails to attract customers,, it is probably the poor signage.

Tribal knowledge

Like many other small profitable business the roasted corn business is run by tight lipped vendors who do not share tribal knowledge. There are not any website, or sources for a newbie to find any information. The tribal knowledge could help you make extra 25K a year. There is a very helpful book “Earn an entire year’s living with corn roaster”, that covers this business with very granular level of details. It is worth buying.

If you plan on making your concession business a full time job, consider an RV that can tow your corn roaster trailer and getting on the list of concession vendors that follow a fair rout.

Accounting and numbers are also very important aspect of this business. Festival Concession business offers financial and personal freedom like no other small business does.

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Finance

Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging In Medical Therapy

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Digital technology now makes Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging available to all. There now is a completely safe test that can aid in diagnosis, treatment and monitoring with absolutely no risk or radiation exposure.

DITI, or digital infrared thermal imaging, is a noninvasive diagnostic test that allows a health practitioner to see and measure changes in skin surface temperature. An infrared scanning camera translates infrared radiation emitted from the skin surface and records them on a color monitor. This visual image graphically maps the body temperature and is referred to as a thermogram. The spectrum of colors indicates an increase or decrease in the amount of infrared radiation being emitted from the body surface. In healthy people, there is a symmetrical skin pattern which is consistent and reproducible for any individual.

DITI is highly sensitive and can therefore be used clinically to detect disease in the vascular, muscular, neural and skeletal systems. Medical DITI has been used extensively in human medicine in the United States, Europe and Asia for the past 20 years. Until now, bulky equipment has hindered its diagnostic and economic feasibility. Now, PC-based infrared technology designed specifically for clinical application has changed all this.

Clinical uses for DITI include, defining the extent of a lesion of which a diagnosis has previously been made (for example, vascular disease); localizing an abnormal area not previously identified, so further diagnostic tests can be performed (as in Irritable Bowel Syndrome); detecting early lesions before they are clinically evident (as in breast cancer or other breast diseases); and monitoring the healing process before a patient returns to work or training (as in workman’s compensation claims).

Medical DITI is filling the gap in clinical diagnosis; X-ray, Computed Tomography, Ultrasound and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), are tests of anatomy or structure. DITI is unique in its capability to show physiological or functional changes and metabolic processes. It has also proven to be a very useful complementary procedure to other diagnostic procedures.

Unlike most diagnostic modalities DITI is non invasive. It is a very sensitive and reliable means of graphically mapping and displaying skin surface temperature. With DITI you can diagnosis, evaluate, monitor and document a large number of injuries and conditions, including soft tissue injuries and sensory/autonomic nerve fiber dysfunction. Medical DITI can offer considerable financial savings by avoiding the need for more expensive investigation for many patients. Medical DITI can graphically display the biased feeling of pain by accurately displaying the changes in skin surface temperature. Disease states commonly associated with pain include Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD, Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis.

Medical DITI can show a combined effect of the autonomic nervous system and the vascular system, down to capillary dysfunctions. The effects of these changes reveal an asymmetry in temperature distribution on the surface of the body. DITI is a monitor of thermal abnormalities present in a number of diseases and physical injuries. It is used as an aid for diagnosis and prognosis, as well as therapy follow up and rehabilitation monitoring, within clinical fields that include rheumatology, neurology, physiotherapy, sports medicine, oncology, pediatrics, orthopedics and many others.

Results obtained with medical DITI systems are totally objective and show excellent correlation with other diagnostic tests.

Thermographic screening is not covered by most insurance companies but is surprisingly affordable for most people. For more information or to find a certified clinic in your area, go to www.proactivehealthonline.com [http://www.proactivehealthonline.com].

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Finance

Hooray for the Federal Rules of Evidence!

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The Federal Rules of Evidence used in the United States federal courts and adopted by many states and the military are codification of many years of common law evidence rules. The development of the modern rules of evidence has been a process of nothing more than putting old wine into new bottles. If one can understand common law notions of evidence the Federal Rules will be easy to understand.

The purpose of the Federal Rules of Evidence is to secure fairness in administration of trials; eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay; and to promote the growth and development of the law of evidence in order that truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined. As a former trial lawyer and current law school professor who teaches the rules of evidence to students, I view the Federal Rules of Evidence, adopted by Congress in 1975 as a master work of putting the old common law wine into a new bottle. I have used the Federal Rules of Evidence throughout my career.

This article is not about any specific common law rule or rules that may have been put into the new bottle known as the Federal Rule of Evidence. Instead, I write this to show how influential and widespread has been the use of the rules. Forty-four states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the military have all adopted all or parts of the Federal Rules for use in their court systems. This is a very good trend because the evidence rules of most states will be roughly the same throughout the United States.

The following paragraphs provide fundamental information about the jurisdictions that have adopted evidence rules patterned on the Federal Rules. They include information concerning the date on which the local rules became effective and when amended, if at all:

ALABAMA. Adopted by the Alabama Supreme Court effective January 1, 1996. No amendments.

ALASKA. Adopted by the Alaska Supreme Court effective August 1, 1979. Last amended October 15, 2003.

ARIZONA. Adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court effective September 1, 1977. Last amended June 1, 2004.

ARKANSAS. Adopted by the Arkansas Supreme Court effective October 13, 1986. Latest amendment on January 22, 1998.

COLORADO. Adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court Effective January 1, 1980. Latest amendment July 1, 2002.

CONNECTICUT. Adopted by the judges of the Connecticut Superior Court effective January 1, 2000. No amendments.

DELAWARE. Adopted by the Delaware Supreme Court effective February 1, 1980. Latest amendment December 10, 2001.

FLORIDA. The Florida Evidence Code was enacted by the Florida Legislature effective July 1, 1979. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

GEORGIA. Governor Nathan Deal signed a House bill which made the Georgia rules effective January 1, 2013. No amendments.

GUAM. Adopted by the Guam Judicial Council effective November 16, 1979. Latest amendment July 18, 2003.

HAWAII. Enacted by the Hawaii Legislature effective January 1, 1981. No amendments.

IDAHO. Adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. No amendments.

ILLINOIS. Adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court effective January 1, 2011. No amendments.

INDIANA. Adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court effective January 1, 1994. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

IOWA. Adopted by the Iowa Supreme Court effective July 1, 1983. Latest amendment February 15, 2002.

KENTUCKY. Enacted by the Kentucky Legislature effective July 1, 1992. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

LOUISIANA. Enacted by the Louisiana Legislature effective January 1, 1989. Latest amendment August 15, 2003.

MAINE. Adopted by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court effective February 2, 1976. Latest amendment July 1, 2002.

MARYLAND. Adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals effective July 1, 1994. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

MICHIGAN. Adopted by the Michigan Supreme Court effective March 1, 1978. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

MINNESOTA. Adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court effective April 1, 1977. Latest amendment January 1, 1990.

MISSISSIPPI. Adopted by the Mississippi Supreme Court effective January 1, 1986. Latest amendment May 27, 2004.

MONTANA. Adopted by the Montana Supreme Court effective July 1, 1977. Latest amendment October 18, 1990.

NEBRASKA. Enacted by the Nebraska Legislature effective December 31, 1975. Latest amendment July 13, 2000.

NEVADA. Enacted by the Nevada Legislature effective July 1, 2004. No amendments.

NEW HAMPSHIRE. Adopted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. Latest amendment January 1, 2003.

NEW JERSEY. Adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court and the New Jersey Legislature through a joint procedure effective July 1, 1993. Latest amendment July 1, 1993.

NEW MEXICO. Adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court effective July 1, 1973. The latest amendment became effective February 1, 2003.

NORTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the North Carolina Legislature effective July 1, 1984. Latest amendment October 1, 2003.

NORTH DAKOTA. Adopted by the North Dakota Supreme Court effective February 15, 1977. Latest amendment March 1, 2001.

OHIO. Adopted by the Ohio Supreme Court effective July 1, 1980. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

OKLAHOMA. Enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature effective October 1, 1978. Latest amendment November 1, 2003.

OREGON. Enacted by the Oregon Legislature effective January 1, 1982. Latest amendment July 3, 2003.

PENNSYLVANIA. Adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court effective October 1, 1998. Latest amendment January 1, 2002.

PUERTO RICO. Enacted by the Puerto Rico Legislature effective October 1, 1979. Latest amendment August 30, 1999.

RHODE ISLAND. Adopted by the Rhode Island Supreme Court effective October 1, 1987. No amendments.

SOUTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the South Carolina Legislature effective September 3, 1995. No amendments.

SOUTH DAKOTA. Enacted by the South Dakota Legislature effective July 1, 1978. No amendments.

TENNESSEE. Adopted by the Tennessee Supreme Court effective January 1, 1990. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

TEXAS. Adopted by the Texas Supreme Court effective March 1, 1998. No amendments.

UTAH. Adopted by the Utah Supreme Court effective September 1, 1983. Latest amendment November 1, 2004.

VERMONT. Adopted by the Vermont Supreme Court effective April 1, 1983. Latest amendment May 27, 2003.

WASHINGTON. Adopted by the Washington Supreme Court effective April 2, 1979. Latest amendment September 1, 2003.

WEST VIRGINIA. Adopted by the West Virginia Supreme Court effective February 1, 1985. Latest amendment January 1, 1995.

WISCONSIN. Adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court effective January 1, 1974. Latest amendment March 30, 2004.

WYOMING. Adopted by the Wyoming Supreme Court effective January 1, 1978. Latest amendment February 28, 1995.

THE MILITARY. The Military Rules of Evidence were adopted by Executive order No. 12,198 March 12, 1980. Latest amendment by Executive Order No. 13,262 April 11, 2002.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS. No date of adoption found.

THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. No date of adoption found.

What an impressive list of adoptions and enactments patterned after the Federal Rules of Evidence! Several jurisdictions have not adopted rules of evidence based on the Federal Rules of Evidence. They are: California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York and Virginia.

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