1) A Personal Injury Claim Is Not A Lottery Ticket
One of the biggest things I look for before I agree to take on a new client is whether the person is hiring an attorney for the right reasons. It’s not a direct question I ask potential clients, it’s just a vibe and feel I get after meeting with someone and discussing their claim. Unfortunately, many people these days seek the help of a personal injury lawyer thinking it is a way to access quick and easy money. That simply is not the case. In a very general sense, the law is intended to make you whole again and nothing more. A personal injury claim is not a get-rich-quick scheme that anyone should be looking to cash in on.
Most people with this opinion is due to lawyer advertising proclaiming large monetary payouts for clients. What you don’t see in those advertisements is what that person’s injuries were, what type of medical treatment they needed and received and what type of long-term financial support they may need. What I can tell you is that if you hear about a personal injury settlement with significant monetary compensation involved, that person has been seriously injured. When you hear of a million dollar or multi-million dollar settlement, that person’s injuries likely resulted in death or some type of life-altering condition or disability. There simply is no such thing as easy money or “jackpot justice” in a personal injury claim and it should not be viewed as a means to get rich.
2) Litigating A Personal Injury Case Can Be A Long And Frustrating Process
Although some simpler cases such as auto accidents or a slip and fall can be settled fairly quickly and often times prior to filing a lawsuit, most personal injury cases are very complex situations that involve extensive litigation. Things move very slowly in the litigation process. There is discovery that must be completed. There are depositions that must be taken. There is evidence that must be gathered and exchanged. There is mediation that must take place. Eventually, assuming there is no resolution prior to, there is finally a trial.
Often times the litigation system is comprised of many “hurry up and wait” scenarios. Meaning, once something is done, you are waiting on a response from a third-party before you can move onto the next step. Likewise, the court system is generally overcrowded and scheduling hearings and trials usually take very long times to be heard. It is quite normal for most clients going through the litigation process to get frustrated and discouraged at some point in the process. It at these times that you need your lawyer’s reassurance and guidance that your day for justice will be heard.
3) There Is Always A Certain Degree Of Risk And Unknown Involved
A “slam dunk” case is very rare. When you do get those types of cases, they are the ones that usually settle prior to filing a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed, that inevitably means there are some issues in dispute. The initial litigation process is designed to gather and obtain evidence. The truth is, prior to gathering and obtaining all the necessary evidence in a case, there really is a certain amount of risk and unknown about what the final outcome may be.
Likewise, there is no set blueprint for how a personal injury claim will go and there is no formulaic approach on valuing personal injury claims. Each claim is different depending on the individual facts and scenarios. One simple fact discovered in the litigation process could bring about an adequate legal defense that could dismiss the claim in a blink of an eye. I always describe litigating a case like building a house of cards – it is a very fragile and slow process that could all come crashing down with one wrong move.
4) Lawyer Advertising Can Be Misleading
Shocker, I know! One of the most important decisions you will make in your injury case is which lawyer to hire. You should not simply call the first attorney you see on television and expect to be happy with that lawyer’s services. I always advise people to do their due diligence when hiring an attorney. Research the lawyer either through their website or independent resources. Review client testimonials and past case results. Meet with several lawyers in-person to get a feel for their personality and who they are.
Many people think that a lawyer should have a certain personality or demeanor in order to be successful. You often hear lawyers described as a “pitbull” or “bulldog,” implying that an aggressive personality is necessary to be a good lawyer. Unfortunately, the name of the game is “civil” litigation. It is a civil environment and an attorney must be able to work well with others. Although there is always a time to be aggressive and tenacious, those qualities do not necessarily make the best attorney.
5) Everyone Hates Lawyers Until They Need One
I truly feel for my clients – people who have been seriously harmed by no fault of their own and are facing rising medical bills, often times unable to return to work and provide for their family. On top of that, I also understand that my clients aren’t familiar with the legal system and don’t know what to expect. Or, even worse, they have an expectation about what should happen because that is reasonable or fair in their eyes, but the litigation process simply does not work the way they believe it should.
For example, I always advise client’s to use their medical insurance if they have it. Some clients simply don’t thing this is fair. Trust me, I get it. My job in these situations is to simply advise my clients how the law works, how the process works, and hope to build their trust so that, in the end, it will work out. My job often times involves consulting clients and putting them at ease – truly one of the things I enjoy about representing injured victims. I am motivated by someone placing their trust in me with such an important situation. Most of all, I love when the litigation process comes to a conclusion and clients are satisfied from such a tragic event.