The Problem with Settlement Mills

Today, one of the biggest changes in the practice of personal injury law has been the development of personal injury “settlement mills.”  Settlement mills are the law firms that spend a great deal of money advertising.  You see their names and logos on every bus, billboard, television station and bus bench in your town.  Advertising is expensive.  To justify the expense, more money must be made than is spent. Settlement mills make up the money they spend on advertising by passing the cost onto you, the client. (Forbes Magazine gives a good overview of Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom in depth analysis of this phenomenon.)

Learn about the Lawyer before your hire him or her. Will he spend time talking with you? Will she want to know more about your case than just what you will settle for? Will he call you back? Will she take enough to make sure you understand what is going on?

These things matter. A lot. So find out.

Settlement mills have a high volume of cases, most with quick turnover and minimal amount of litigation. Clients rarely talk with the attorney who “is handling their case.” Much of the work, sometimes nearly all, is done by paralegals, assistants and or secretaries. In short, these firms rush the process in order to make a quick buck. Since injuries take time to be treated, an equal amount of time must be spent on the case. It’s very simple: Personal injury cases cannot be rushed.

While it’s important to seek legal counsel on a timely basis, sometimes very soon after the accident, do take the time to review the lawyer that’s going to represent you.  Check their website. Ask questions. Before you choose a law firm to represent you in any kind of accident, whether it be the death of a family member or a relatively minor accident, research a law firm or lawyer before you hire. Remember, it’s your injury. It’s your case. It’s your future.

Three questions accident victims should ask before agreeing to hire an attorney (by William Kirk Saron):   

How many years of experience do you have with  handling personal injury cases?
What percentage of your overall caseload is dedicated to personal injury claims?
How many times have you taken a case to trial in your career?

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