A question I often get after someone has suffered a personal injury due to someone else’s fault is “Does the lawyer I hire to handle my personal injury case really make a difference?”
Usually when someone has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, or fault, they don’t know where to turn for legal help. Some people call a non-personal injury lawyer they know already for assistance. They’ll call a friend or a relative they know who is a lawyer. Sometimes, they’ll call a lawyer who has helped them in the past with a legal matter, like the guy who helped them with a divorce or a real estate closing. I have no problem with that. It’s a good idea. However, what happens all too often is the lawyer decides to take matters into his own hands and handle a personal injury matter on his own. This is despite having zero to very little experience handling personal injury matters. I’ve had a recent experience with this.
A lawyer I know out in the western suburbs of Chicago called me a little more than a year ago. He is a general practitioner but primarily handles divorce cases. He let me know that he agreed to handle a car accident case for a former client of his. It was a pretty clear liability case and his client suffered a shoulder injury that required arthroscopic surgery. He had gathered all of the medical records and bills and shipped them off to the responsible driver’s insurance company. He and the insurance adjuster that he was dealing with reached a stalemate with negotiations. The last demand was $65,000 and the insurance company’s last offer was $50,000. The time limit for filing a lawsuit was coming up quickly. Therefore, the lawyer let me know that he wanted to refer the case to me and I agreed to take it on. I thought he was under-evaluating the case and taking all the wrong steps to maximize its value.
I filed suit and aggressively litigated this matter. As an experienced personal injury lawyer, I knew the right steps to take and when to take them. I knew that the best way to achieve a full and fair settlement was to push this matter towards a trial date. In fact, it wasn’t until after we received a trial date from the judge that any “real” negotiations began. The case recently settled for $150,000. So back to the question, “Does the lawyer handling your personal injury case really make a difference?” I think so.