What Are The Top Misconceptions About Personal Injury Attorneys?
Most people believe a lawyer is a lawyer, and if one has a law license, he or she should be able to handle an injury case. However, most do not understand that the complexity of handling a personal injury matter requires a skillset that is very unique. Not only should the practitioner have a sound understanding of the client’s injuries and the medicine involved, but he must be able to translate that understanding into an economic sense, because the recourse we get for people is monetary. He or she has to be skilled at advocacy and must be able to effectively represent a client in court, which is something that takes many years to develop. The injury practitioner must understand a myriad of statutes, codes, case laws, and precedents in each and every area of injury law, since different rules apply to each different type of case.
Are People Generally Aware of The Complexities of The Personal Injury Recovery Process?
In personal injury law, we are mainly dealing with insurance companies, which is a process that has changed dramatically since our law firm’s inception, 40 years ago. The process was much simpler then. There are many more issues to consider now. As a result, cases generally do not resolve as quickly as one would like. The insurance companies want to hold on to their money as long as possible, whereas the client wants a fair and expeditious settlement. But if the insurance company senses that the plaintiff is eager to settle, they will discount the value of a case, hoping to settle it for pennies on the dollar. Once this posture is taken by an insurance company, it is a long upward battle to obtain fair value for a case.
The client must complete all of the medical options suggested by their doctors. It will be assumed that a client is not injured if the client does not follow up with the medical care or treatment advised by their doctor. As well, delays in seeking medical treatment after an injury suggest to the insurance carrier that the client was not significantly injured, as a reasonable person with the injuries described would have had immediate medical attention.
The insurance companies understand that a jury will most often not hear the actual amount of a client’s medical expenses. Agencies such as Medicare and Medi-Cal as well as most private medical insurance companies pay only a small portion of the actual medical bill. The jury will only hear the amount that those agencies paid, rather than the actual expenses. Twenty or thirty years ago, it was commonly thought that an injury case would settle for a certain amount based upon the value of the medical bills. For example, the settlement in a non-complex case would be thought to be three or four times the amount of the accumulated medical bills. Many practitioners who are not skilled or educated in this area still think that a formula based on medical expenses is how insurance companies evaluate these cases, but it is not true.
A client may have medical bills in the six and seven figure range, but Medicare may settle with the hospitals and other healthcare providers for cents on the dollar, thereby leaving a jury to hear only about insignificant medical expenses. Therefore, it is so important that the injury is explained. It is no longer the dollar amount of the medical bills that dictate a settlement. In many cases, medical experts are needed in order to properly explain the injuries and the expected sequelae of those injuries.
If the plaintiff’s attorney is not acknowledged in the insurance industry as being skilled in handling these cases, the value of a case is often discounted. This is the main reason why some attorneys are able to get wonderful settlements and verdicts for their clients, while others simply cannot get an insurance company to come up with a reasonable amount of money.
In short, for an effective recovery, the insurance carrier must understand the downside of their case. This can only be done by an effective presentation by the injured party’s attorney. The insurance carrier must understand the experience, the resources, and the commitment that the plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff’s law firm bring to the case in order to reach a fair settlement.
Should Someone Expect Insurance Carriers To Put Up A Fight When It Comes To Paying On Injuries?
In our present insurance environment, it’s always a fight against the insurance company, regardless of how straightforward a case is. The proper presentation of a claim is needed and is indeed a highly complex process. Therefore, it requires the skills of a studied practitioner to smooth out the bumps as much as possible. If not done correctly, the process will evolve and escalate into an inordinate amount of time, work, and frustration for the client.
Why Do Most Personal Injury Claims Settle Prior To Trial?
Although most cases do end up settling rather than going to trial, there is much work that must be done to accomplish a settlement. The resolution of disputes occurs in two basic ways: settlement or trial. A settlement occurs when the parties are able to reach an agreement as to the amount of money to be paid in order to resolve a dispute. Trial, on the other hand, occurs when the parties are unable to reach such an agreement. At a trial, the outcome is decided by a judge or a jury. Although most cases do end up settling, this agreement is based upon what parties think a judge or jury would do based upon the evidence that would be produced at trial.
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