Beware of Settlement Mills: Choose Your Personal Injury Attorney Carefully
By Sandra Dalton, Staff Writer
When you have been seriously injured, you need the help of a personal injury lawyer who is dedicated to winning maximum compensation for you. A firm that is always ready and willing to take your case all the way through jury trial, if that’s what it takes. Settlement mills are high-volume law firms that rarely if ever go to trial and pressure their clients into accepting low-ball settlement offers in order to settle as many cases as possible quickly and cheaply. It is a scheme that the insurance companies love because, even though they wind up paying out on low-value claims, they know they will pay far less than they should to victims who are seriously injured.
Recognizing a Settlement Mill
Nora Freeman Engstrom described settlement mills in-depth in her article Run-of-the-Mill Justice.
- Settlement mills advertise heavily and few or none of their clients come from referrals
- They rarely or never take cases to trial
- Settlement mills have very little interaction with their clients
- Negotiations are often handled by paralegals and legal assistants, rather than attorneys
- They are high-volume firms with substantially more open cases at any given time than law firms that fully litigate cases
- Settlement mills put little or no effort into accident investigation
- They settle quickly, typically within two to eight months
When you are dealing with serious injuries, you face long-term expenses and losses that are probably far greater than you currently anticipate. It is crucial that you receive fair value for your claim. To do that, you need to do your research, ask the right questions, and choose a personal injury lawyer who will perform a thorough investigation and prepare your case to go to trial, even though a settlement is more likely.
You are looking for a trial attorney. Settlements are not bad. Most injury personal injury case are resolved with a settlement. But, the insurance companies know that lawyers who are afraid or unwilling to go to trial will accept much lower settlement offers and in the unlikely event that they attempt to go to trial they will not have the experience or have prepared well enough to win. Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective attorneys how many cases they try to a jury verdict each year.
You are also looking for an injury law firm that prides itself on personal attention and time spent with each client. Your story should matter to your attorney. Understanding how your injuries affect you and your family is an important piece of presenting a meaningful case to a jury. If you are rushed to sign a contract and go home, be very cautious. A personal injury law firm that will maximize the value of your claim also chooses its cases very carefully and will want to get all the facts and investigate before committing to your case.
If you were seriously injured in an accident, you can learn more about your rights and how you can recover damages for your losses by searching our directory to find a lawyer near you.