In my opinion, the practice of law is a very personal business. The practice of law within the area of personal injury is even more so, but all too often I hear horror stories from people I meet or who come to see me after they have hired another attorney. The stories you hear are all the same. These very unhappy clients complaint that:
1. There was no communication between client and attorney;
2. They did not know or had never met their attorney;
3. Paralegals did all the work on their case;
4. The staff at the law firm seemed to constantly change; and
5. The attorneys were never in the office;
These are all telltale signs of the settlement mill.
What is a Personal Injury Settlement Mill?
A personal injury settlement mill is a law firm that handles a high volume of personal injury cases, but tends to evaluate all of the cases according to a cookie cutter formula and seldom if ever takes a case to trial. These personal injury settlement mills often spend millions each year in advertising to ensure a steady, if not impressive, flow of new clients. I believe that the advertising budgets are necessary because there are very few referrals from prior clients and even fewer from other attorneys in area. I have always been a very big advocate of asking for referrals from peers and colleagues. Before hiring a personal injury attorney, I would recommend meeting with several. One question I would ask, at every such meeting would be, “If you were injured in a car accident and could not represent yourself, who would you hire?” The answers would be very revealing as to which attorneys are really the best in their field. If you do not even meet your attorney during your free consultation, I would view that as a very bad sign.
The Lawyer that Advertises the Most is not Necessarily the Best
Many of the settlement mills spend exorbitant amounts of money on advertising. Just because a particular law firm can pay to have a platform does not make them the best firm, just the loudest. The advertising in the legal field, especially within the personal injury specialty can be appalling. I see lawyers, who I know have never tried a case, standing on the court house steps telling the viewer about how they fight for justice. It is pathetic and misleading. It is also a common among the personal injury settlement mill law firms.
How Can a Personal Injury Settlement Mill Harm My Case?
Personal injury settlement mills can harm your case. First, they do not take the time to determine the value of your individual case. Settlement mills tend to evaluate most cases in a very generalized manner, relying upon outdated formulas. Settlement mills tend to assign most of the legal work to paralegals. The paralegals will be expected to handle a large volume of cases and will have weekly quotas regarding the number of demand for settlements made. This overload of work and pressure to settle at all costs tends to lead to mistakes and the acceptance of settlement offers which are less than the client would otherwise be entitled.
How Should You Hire an Attorney?
Set up appointments to meet with various attorneys. Your initial consultation should be free. Most reputable attorneys will provide you a 30 minute consultation for free. During that consultation, the attorney should be able to answer basic questions about your case. Keep it mind that at this initial meeting, the attorney likely will not have any accident reports, hospital records, witness statements and other documents that provide information specific to your accident so the questions that the lawyer will be able to answer will be more general in nature. In my opinion, this initial consultation should be used by the client to “interview” the attorney and determine if the “fit is right. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Remember, hiring an attorney is a personal decision. It is important to do your due diligence. Check the attorney’s background, history of bar complaints and results. Do not rely upon a billboard or a television ad to make a decision. Once you armed with information, interview several attorneys who you believe to be qualified. You should ultimately hire an attorney that you feel comfortable around, because that attorney will likely know more about you than your doctor.
Contact Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you in the privacy of your own home.
Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707