Choosing a law firm after an accident is a difficult choice. With so many law firms advertising about large settlements and results, it is easy to be led astray into choosing a personal injury “mill” that only cares about their bottom line. This begs the questions: what is a personal injury mill and how do I know if I signed with one?
A personal injury settlement mill is a high-volume personal injury law firm that often take cases and then avoid going to trial to get the case to settle quickly. This approach often leaves the client with a settlement that’s far less than deserved and only serves to benefit the law firm. In certain instances it’s beneficial to settle out of court. But there’s a huge difference in the quality of service provided by a personal injury attorney with extensive trial experience and a personal injury settlement mill.
At Jones Law Group, we’ve seen first-hand clients seeking representation after being harmed by the slick promises and catchy jingles of these settlement mills. Unfortunately, under circumstances, it can be too late. Please contact us online or call (727) 571-1333 for a free review of your case.
After an accident, you may be wondering how you can tell the difference between a settlement mill and a personal injury attorney who ensures your needs are met. The following is a guide on what to look for and how to avoid hiring a personal injury settlement mill for your case.
How to Tell That a Law Firm is a Settlement Mill
In order to avoid working with a settlement mill and properly choose a law firm that represents your best interests, you should look out for these warning signs.
Everyone has seen the flashy advertising practices employed by lawyers all over the country. From TV commercials to high flying billboards, these advertising practices have created the stigma behind “ambulance chasers” and personal injury settlement mills. These settlement mills need a large volume of clients so they can make as much money as possible. To do so, they constantly advertise, putting claim quantity as the priority over claim quality. Bigger is not always better. And personal referrals from friends and family are the best way to discover a good personal injury law firm.
Settlement Mills are famous for their intake specialists. Clients often never meet or even speak to any attorney. The injured person certainly never meets the larger-than-life attorney from the commercials and billboards. Paralegals will handle the cases from start to finish. Although paralegals help lawyers in every firm, in a settlement mill the paralegals are coached to reach settlements quickly. And they’re given a quota of settlements they’re expected to reach each week.
When hiring an attorney at Jones Law Group, you receive a partner’s cell phone number so you may contact them at any time with questions or concerns. Problems arise after accidents. Reaching your attorney at settlement mills is next to impossible at times. You’ll want to speak with the attorney who is handling your case, not necessarily a paralegal or intake specialist. You want attorneys who are dedicated to giving you the time and attention you deserve to ensure your needs are met.
Settlements are not always a bad thing. However, you need to make sure it’s fair and fully compensates you for your injuries. A quick settlement isn’t always a bad thing. But it’s critical that your attorney is not under time constraints to fulfill their quota. And that they pay your case the individual time it deserves. With the pressure to meet their numbers, many of these settlement mills process tens of thousands of claims each year, with only a very slim amount of those claims actually going to trial. Empirical studies have suggested that conventional personal injury firms have somewhere around 70 open files at any time, whereas settlement mill attorneys often triple that – serving 300 to 400 clients annually. In one instance, one Georgia settlement mill attorney reported she personally settled approximately 600 to 700 claims in a 13-month span.
Insurance companies love settlement mills because they’re focused on getting cases settled as quickly as possible. These insurance companies know they can make a low offer. And the typical settlement mill attorney will accept it rather than expend the time to fully prepare their client’s case. This leads to terrible results for clients left with too little to fully compensate for injuries. In a 1988 study, only 2.8% of represented auto accident victims had their claims tried to a verdict (although the number nowadays is expected to be closer to .5%).
At Jones Law Group, we will fight to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve no matter how long it takes. Settlement mills do not do this. With our firm, you’ll have an attorney who works with you from day one to ensure your needs are met. We prepare your case from start to finish, from collecting your medical records, to determining whether you need future treatment. Our attorneys will be there for you every step of the way. We strive to obtain the best possible results for our clients. And we are not afraid to go to trial to see that through.
No Help with Medical Care and Rehabilitation
A good attorney will not only represent the client in the courtroom. They’ll also see it through that you receive the best possible medical treatment for your injuries. The process of seeking treatment after an accident is complicated. When injuries are severe, navigating this process leaves clients frustrated and without the care they need. It’s crucial that you have medical care that understands the complexity of your injuries. A good attorney does not manage your medical care. Instead, they listen to the client’s complaints and concerns about their medical care and can act as an advocate with the doctor giving voice to the client’s concerns.
Attorneys working for settlement mills do not help their clients navigate this complicated process. Because there is no communication between the client and the attorney, clients are often left on their own to seek treatment without anyone who can explain the process and act as an intermediary when they have medical concerns. Certain clients and claims require more attention and advice, and you simply do not get that level of care at a settlement mill.
The attorneys at Jones Law Group work with a wide variety of medical providers all over the state of Florida to cater to each individual clients needs. From traumatic brain injuries to broken bones, our attorneys work hand in hand with some of the best doctors in the country. Jones Law Group has dealt with nearly every injury imaginable. We’ll see it through that you receive the best medical attention available.
Settlement Mills Do Not Stand Up to Insurance Companies
As stated earlier, insurance companies love settlement mills because they are quick to settle and often don’t fight back after the first settlement offer. After an accident, insurance companies spring into action and conduct their own investigation into the facts. In cases involving commercial vehicles, insurance companies often send representatives to investigate the scene before the vehicles are even cleared. From the outset, these insurance companies are looking for every possible way to reduce, deny and defend your claim.
Personal injury settlement mills help these insurance companies by failing to advise you after interacting with adjusters, and don’t stop you from giving interviews or signing documents presented by the insurance company. Given their goal in obtaining settlements as soon as possible, these settlement mills often fail to investigate your accident, and stick solely to what is on the paper in front of them.
Unsatisfactory Client Interaction
As stated above, often clients hire a settlement mill expecting to get the person on TV. Only to discover there is no attorney interaction. Clients quickly find out the TV lawyer is not handling their case at all. At settlement mills, paralegals are frequently tasked with handling the cases from start to finish. With the exception of accepting the settlement offer, clients of settlement mills often have little to no interaction with their attorney. As eloquently stated by a prominent South Carolina Attorney, “Very often, the first time I saw the client was when they came in to sign their settlement check.” At another firm, attorneys recalled the majority of clients never met a lawyer face-to-face.
After being in an accident and hiring an attorney, many clients will find it necessary to maintain contact with their attorney to ensure their needs are met. From getting the client to proper medical treatment, to discussing the clients wants and needs, lawyer-client interaction is one of the most important parts of the personal injury process. At Jones Law Group, you will have access to your attorney 24-7. We don’t just hand your case off after you sign up. We will be there for you until you are satisfied with the result.
As apart of their advertising, settlement mills often employ the catch phrase “we don’t get paid unless we win!” While this is true, this is the case for every personal injury firm in the state of Florida. In personal injury cases, a lawyer’s payment is governed by what is known as a “contingency fee.” Without diving into the specifics, typically a contingency fee is capped at 33% for pre-suit settlements, and 40% for cases that are litigated. In other words, if you agree to a contingency fee, your attorney will receive 33% of the total settlement if the claim is settled before a lawsuit is filed, and 40% thereafter. The benefit of the contingency fee is that the client owes no money up front to the lawyer; the lawyer’s payment is “contingent” on the outcome of the case.
Here’s the catch, settlement mills often do not monitor their clients’ medical bills as well as they should. This makes sense considering the enormous caseloads these settlement mill attorneys carry. However, failing to adequately monitor the usage of insurance benefits can work to the detriment of the client, and may even result in the client owing money even after the case settles for full policy limits. Consider the following scenario.
Example Settlement Mill Fee Structure
Let’s say Jane Doe gets into a car accident caused Joe Schmoe. Jane Doe is seriously injured and needs immediate medical treatment. Joe Schmoe has $100,000 worth of insurance coverage for his vehicle.
Jane Doe has seen advertisements for The Bigger-is-Better Settlement Mill Law Firm all over TV. And she thinks it’s a good idea to hire them for representation. After going to the hospital and receiving surgery, Jane Doe finds herself facing a $70,000.00 hospital bill. She then discovers that she’ll need another $15,000 in rehabilitation and future medical treatment following surgery.
While this is going on, The Bigger-is-Better Settlement Mill Law Firm races to get that $100,000 payout from the insurance company.
The Bigger-is-Better Settlement Mill Law Firm calls Jane Doe and says “come by to pick up your check!” When Jane Doe gets to the office, she receives a settlement check for $67,000. Jane Doe says, “but wait! I have $70,000 in medical bills and still need $15,000.00 in treatment where am I going to get the remaining $18,000?” Settlement Mill Law Firm replies “sorry, but you are going to have to pay the $18,000 out of pocket.”
While Settlement Mill Law Firm walks away with a nice $33,000 check, Jane Doe is now left with hefty medical bills and nowhere to turn.
Believe it or not, this happens all the time. In certain instances, medical bills can exceed 6 figures. And it’s rare to find an insurance policy that covers such a high amount. In fact, approximately 12.6% of motorists in the U.S., or one in eight drivers, are uninsured. Alarmingly, in the state of Florida, it is estimated that 20.4% of all drivers are uninsured.
Why Hire Jones Law Group Instead of a Settlement Mill
The benefit of hiring Jones Law Group as opposed to a settlement mill is that the attorney handling your case will be constantly monitoring your medical expenditures. While it comes down to a matter of “luck” with insurance coverage, a good personal injury attorney will do everything they can to ensure your medical needs are met while also informing you of what potential costs you face. Don’t be fooled by the slick advertising employed by these settlement mills. While all contingency fee agreements operate the same, not all law firms work to maximize the benefits for the client.
Jones Law Group Personal Injury Attorneys
The attorneys at Jones Law Group have years of experience trying personal injury cases and dealing with insurance companies. After an accident, the best thing for you to do is interview a number of personal injury attorneys before you make the decision to hire one. At Jones Law Group, we offer free consultation time where you can ask any questions you have about your case, and where you can meet with the attorney who will be handling your case from start to finish. While under certain circumstances these cases take some time to evaluate and develop, the attorneys at Jones Law Group will at least be able to provide you with an assessment of your claim and provide you with treatment options so that you can get immediate relief.
If you need a personal injury attorney who will work to make sure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve, contact Jones Law Group online or call us at 727-571-1333. We do not settle easily with insurance companies and only take on as many cases as we can handle. When you choose us, you will be provided with one of the partner’s personal cell phone numbers. And you will work directly with the attorney who is handling your case. Even if you are currently working with a law firm that fits the description above, contact us. We will help you get your case back on track before it is too late.