Maybe I’m a little sensitive lately. Last week a favorite political blogger of mine referred to a politician’s television address and described him “as sweaty as a personal injury lawyer.” I was offended. It wasn’t funny. It doesn’t even make any sense.
I know the indictment of the profession and am familiar with all the derogatory terms that won’t be regaled here for those who delight in lawyer-bashing. Suffice it to say, “ambulance chaser” sums it up. Some of my colleagues make light of this and reply with, “No, we beat the ambulance!!” Yuk, yuk. Bad answer – this just plays into the stereotype.
Really good personal injury lawyers are a paradoxical mixture of empathy and swagger. You must like people and take an interest in their lives. You must get to know their family and learn about their jobs, their recreations and truly understand how this serious injury has turned their world upside down. And make no mistake, a serious injury does affect the whole family – sometimes for years.
The “swagger” of an effective personal injury lawyer comes with experience and confidence. You feel uniquely qualified to represent this client and his or her family to the insurance company with absolute assurance that you are zealously representing this client to the best of your ability. No one could do a better job than you – not even Atticus Finch could come close. Good aggressive negotiating skills are critical and a successful result that leads to a settlement or judgment for your client is your best referral source. One happy client is worth five billboards.
Those of us who have represented the injured all have anecdotal stories of families helped. Of settlements that allowed a client to retire early to concentrate on therapies for further recuperation. Of a minor child’s settlement that will allow a pretty little 6 year old girl to get scar revision surgery as she grows after a horrid dog bite to the face. Of the client too young for back surgery after a wreck, but who can now put away the money for future surgery since she is now “uninsurable” for purposes of health insurance.
I cannot tell you how many new clients have confessed at the time of the initial client interview that they never, ever thought they’d be employing a personal injury lawyer. “I’m not the suing type, but I’m hurt, I have no car, medical bills I don’t know what to do with and I cannot work…….”
I know. I understand. No hard feelings. We’re here to help. Just remember that the next time someone refers to personal injury lawyers and you, by extension as “sweaty” or “slimy”.