As a personal injury lawyer I get very tired of seeing TV commercials with big multi-law office TV lawyers telling injury victims that they alone can handle their injury case, and if they hire a smaller firm they just may not have as good a result.
Here’s a real life example of what a smaller firm can do for injured folks from my own practice. This happened just earlier this summer but some facts have been slightly changed to disguise identities: A woman was in a really horrific crash as a passenger when the driver lost control of the car and slammed it into a concrete pole at a high rate of speed. It was a single car collision. The driver may have had a medical event, like a seizure or was perhaps overmedicated.
The car engine was pushed back so far that the dashboard was in their laps. A photo of the front of the car looked like the pole ended up where the windshield used to be. They each had to be cut out of the car.
My client was in the critical care unit of a local hospital for 4 days with massive, but survivable injuries. She was released from care after almost 7 days in the hospital to go home and was in severe discomfort with fractured ribs and a broken collar bone.
A friend recommended a billboard law firm be called which immediately sent out an “investigator” to her home to just “talk to her”. Alone, in pain, on medication and feeling like she was being marketed by a used car salesman, she did sign up with this firm. She immediately regretted it.
This woman started calling around day 2 or 3 to inquire the status of her claim. Who would pay her bills? Should she give the doctors her Medicare information or her car insurance information? What doctors should she see? Can she get some medical care at home? This senior citizen was told that her case hadn’t been assigned to anyone yet and that someone would get back to her.
Days later, frustrated after having heard nothing, another friend advised her to fire this firm and to come and see me. So, she did fire them and she did come and see me.
As is customary, I wrote Big Firm and reminded them that their representation had been terminated and I requested a copy of their file so that I didn’t have to duplicated efforts in writing to insurance companies and in getting the police accident report, etc. However, having been down this road before, I knew I wouldn’t receive anything from Big Firm because……they hadn’t done anything yet.
Within two days, my paralegal and I obtained the police accident report, I had all the insurance information, I notified the insurance companies of my representation, I wrote for all medical bills and reports. I also introduced myself to the insurance company adjusters as the attorney on the case and I spoke with them of the severity of this incident, the hospital stay and the huge hospital bill that would be coming. I cooperated with the adjusters and built credibility on the claim.
Probably by the time Big Firm knew and processed that they had been fired, I settled the case for the insurance limits of liability with both insurance companies. It was a bit rare that the case settled so quickly, but considering the modest limits of a little more than $100,000 and the client’s obvious injuries, the insurance companies knew that the value of the claim exceeded their insurance limits, so they paid.
And, since we settled the claim before Medicare had paid out any benefits to the doctors or hospitals, we didn’t have to wait for or negotiate a lien. My client’s settlement was very satisfactory to her and she was, in a word, thrilled.
I have to wonder if Big Firm would be this far by even now, late summer.
Before hiring a big billboard firm, I have few questions consumer should ask them: Who is my initial contact? Is it a lawyer? Will I be assigned to one lawyer that I can talk to? Will I ever talk to a lawyer? If not, will I have one dedicated paralegal or case manager assigned to my case, or will I be forever in the shuffle of various paralegals assigned to hundreds of cases at any given time? How many cases does this lawyer/paralegal handle at one time? Is it dozens or hundreds? If I don’t have one of those multi-million dollar cases they boast about on TV, but one with more modest value, will my case be given equal treatment as those big cases?
I don’t have billboards; I don’t want billboards. I also don’t want hundreds of cases. Those of us with smaller firms are proud to represent our clients on a much more personal, one-on-one basis. Those of us like to get to know our clients, their families, their medical conditions and build a case upward to reach maximum settlement potential. A client should be more than a claim number to an insurance adjuster and more than a score-card to the Big Firm. “We’ve represented over 1 million clients…” That’s great, but what can they do for you?
Image credit: kadmy / 123RF Stock Photo