I routinely tell my friends and family that I hope they never need an attorney. I do remind them, however, that if they ever are in need of one, that they give our firm consideration. The reasons are many, but if asked to state only two (2), I would say: 1) No one treats their clients better than we do; and 2) We are a Litigation Firm. Simply stated, we are good to people and we are skilled in the area of litigation.
Although it may come as a surprise, an attorney’s willingness to spend money on advertising is not necessarily indicative of their representative ability and/or skill in the courtroom or at the negotiation table. An appealing commercial or popular radio advertisement does not always reflect the amount of time an attorney actually spends in court, or more importantly, their ability to produce results once there. Frankly, while not all attorneys are great marketers, not all marketers are great attorneys.
I am never offended when a client asks me how long I have been an attorney. I believe there is an absolute need for people to educate themselves in the event they are in need of an attorney, particularly when it relates to matters of personal injury. The harsh reality is that insurance companies, now more than ever, rarely make “fair and reasonable” settlement offers; rather, consistently and systematically, insurance companies are more often denying claims and making low-ball offers, resulting in claimants either being forced to resolve their reasonable claim for an unreasonable amount, or alternatively, filing suit and pursuing justice via the court system. Further saddening the process is that while you as the claimant may be willing to pursue the matter through litigation, there is no guarantee that the attorney you have hired is willing, or even prepared, to proceed in such a manner on your behalf. And where is the justice in that?
One of the most common questions I field is “Do I really need a personal injury attorney?” Well, a qualified personal injury attorney and their staff help to oversee, manage and prepare your claim so that insurance adjusters can reasonably evaluate your claim in order that a fair settlement proposal is made. It is important to understand that insurance companies are not in the business of currently making fair initial or even final offers, so you need to be prepared to move forward in litigation, or at least give the impression that you are not fearful of doing so. Therefore, if you are represented by an attorney who is not in the business of filing lawsuits, you run the risk of being the recipient of a low offer from the insurance company, while simultaneously feeling pressured…by your attorney…..to accept the same.
Low offers should be expected from insurance adjusters if they know that the law firm representing you rarely files lawsuits. Can you really blame them? If it is the job of the insurance adjuster to make offers they subjectively deem “reasonable” and “fair” (which are routinely objectively low and unfair, by the way), while simultaneously attempting to save money on each claim, why wouldn’t they purposely under-value your claim knowing that a significant percentage of attorneys will encourage settlement in order to avoid filing suit?
So how do you choose an attorney for your personal injury claim? Well, first, you should know that there are really only two scenarios for resolution of your claim: 1) a settlement is reached which should only occur with your authority and complete understanding of the end result; and 2) you file a lawsuit and obtain a jury verdict or arbitration award. While anyone can settle your case, the results are not uniform across the board, even in cases involving similar facts, scenarios, asserted damages and injuries. After all, the reputation, skill and ability, or lack thereof, of your attorney all play a factor in the offers and settlement amounts achieved. And, although any attorney, in theory, can technically file a lawsuit on your behalf, not all are capable of actually trying your case to a jury…..and that, folks, is where the skill and ability, and yes, even the reputation, of your attorney plays an even greater role.
The advertisement game in the legal profession is saturated. The public is bombarded by ads, billboards and commercials, funded by the same group of attorneys who have allocated significant budgets in an attempt to get your business. If you have been injured in an accident and are in need of an attorney, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make inquiries. Do your homework. After all, while any attorney can settle your case, when it comes to maximizing your claim, or creating a truly fair and reasonable result through the litigation process, an attorney with actual litigation and trial experience is most often your best bet.