People think that a personal injury attorney is in it for themselves and going to take a majority of their proceeds. That a personal injury lawyer may not really help them in the sense that they could do it on their own and get the same type of settlement, because other people have told them that, or the insurance industry or insurance adjuster has told them, “We can settle this for you, you don’t need a lawyer, and we’ll pay you the value of your claim or policy limits, if you hire a lawyer, he is just going to take that portion that we were already going to pay you. Little do they understand that when they reach a settlement, many times there are lots of other insurance companies, healthcare providers, health insurance carriers that have their hands out and are going to take a portion of their proceeds.
That is a big misconception on their part. Just because they settle the claim for a lot of money does not mean that they are going to get a lot of money unless they take care to negate or lessen the lien holders that are standing there ready to take portions of their settlement. So that is one of the main things that we do in our office, we work really hard to reduce those liens or eliminate them if at all possible so that more money is put into the pocket of the collision victim over these lien holders who are just trying to get as much of the money out of the settlement as they can. The other misconception is that the lawyer who screams the loudest on TV or in the Yellow Pages is the best lawyer, and that is not always true. What they do not understand is some of those lawyers who scream the loudest have a volume business and that volume business makes the insurance companies happy.
If you are with a lawyer with a volume business who is just in the business to turn the volume over, turn cases over at one rate after the other, then you are probably with the wrong law firm, because that lawyer will turn your case as quickly as possible. That is their goal. Not to get the most for you, but to turn it as quickly as possible. Sometimes people think that is great, I will get my money quicker. But most of the time, when you turn a case quickly, that means that you are going to end up with less money than what you could or would and should have received had you exercised a little bit of patience in the negotiating of the claim. Make sure that all of your liens were minimized, reduced or eliminated and negotiated from a strong position, not from a quick one.
It is perceived that many folks who have a personal injury lawyer, that they are there just to turn over a case and make a quick buck. If you use that kind of attorney, then yeah, you could be in trouble. But most of the personal injury lawyers I know are pretty good people and they will take their time to work on the case and use due diligence as opposed to a quick buck, they will give it their best shot to get as much of the net settlement from the claim or plaintiff’s pocket. Those are just some of the perceptions that come off the top of my head.
Most people do not really have a good understanding of the process. They do not understand all of the important elements of the process, including getting adequate, well-documented medical care. Getting into the paper chase is what the lawyer and their staff does in getting the documentation together. The logistics of getting that documentation together to create the appropriate settlement demand, they really do not understand and think that. Quite frankly, it is a simplistic understanding, and I understand why they would think it is simplistic in that they think, well, I have $10,000 worth of medical bills. Somebody told me it is worth three to four times that and that is what I should settle for.
It is just not that simple. Ten thousand in medical bills could mean poor quality and the case is only worth $11,000 in Kansas. Or it could mean that a person had a really nasty injury, did not receive medical treatment, but has a lifelong scar, that is worth a whole lot more than three to four times the medical care. So they had these misconceptions. And most people when they walk into lawyers’ office do not really understand what we do in our communication with both them and their healthcare providers. The various insurance companies involved that help put the case in the right posture for the right settlement, with the right lienholders being kicked out of the case, or minimized so that the case can be properly settled or properly litigated.
I really think that it is this misunderstanding, that it is a simple thing. Part of that comes from some of the advertising that is here in the market suggesting that it is simple and easy when it really is not. Very few cases that I have handled are simple and easy and get done quickly without any problems whatsoever. Everybody has their unique attributes or characteristics and that is what makes the cases unique and that is what makes everyone interesting, but also at times, certain aspects of it make it difficult in order for the case to be resolved fairly for the claimant. If a lawyer is not paying attention to the details that need to be paid attention to, then the case may not settle for what it should settle for and may not be litigated successfully for what it should be litigated for.
The perception that people have when they first walk into our office changes by the end. We notice people have a much better understanding through our education process and no longer have those misconceptions of the process and appreciate the fact that we take the time to educate.