I had the pleasure of handing over a sizable settlement check to the victim of a Pennsylvania Motorcycle Collision the other day. It’s a pretty common occurrence, but the circumstances of this particular case made it particularly satisfying. My hope is that by sharing the information on this blog, I can keep a future motorcycle client from making the same mistake.
This client didn’t come to us when he was first hurt. He made the mistake of calling one of those firms who advertise on TV about every 15 seconds. So they sent an “investigator” to him to have him sign a retainer agreement, and made him travel to their BIG CITY office several hours away to meet with some paralegal. Everything seemed to be going fine until the time came to discuss settlement with the insurance company. It turned out that who was at fault for the collision was a little bit of an open question, so the insurance company decided they wouldn’t pay a penny and basically dared the attorney to sue them.
This is where things get really interesting. You see, the client had a really significant injury. If this “BIG CITY” lawyer with the multi-million dollar advertising budget could convince the insurance company that their driver was at fault, the insurance company would surely offer up the entire policy due to the nature of the biker’s injury. For whatever reason, this “BIG CITY” attorney couldn’t convince the insurance adjuster to do this. That kind of thing happens. Insurance companies don’t stay in business long if they hand over money every time an attorney comes knocking with an arguable claim. If the insurance company refuses to pay anything willingly, the next step is clear: you sue them and start heading for trial. It doesn’t mean there will necessarily be a trial, as after the discovery part of the law suit is concluded there will be another round of negotiations where the case may settle, but you have to keep the case moving.
What happened next astounded me. This “BIG CITY” lawyer with the tough guy commercials tucked his tail and ran for the hills. He told the client he would no longer represent him. Now that the case might actually take a little work, this “BIG CITY” lawyer wanted nothing to do with it.
So the client came to me. I couldn’t figure out why the “BIG CITY” lawyer dropped the case, as it seemed like a good case to me. I sued the case and proceeded with the litigation. I was eventually able to convince the insurance company that their driver was at fault for the accident, and they agreed to pay my client the fully policy limits.
There are a couple lessons to be learned from this case. First, spending millions of dollars a year on tough sounding TV commercials doesn’t make a lawyer tough. Second, you don’t have to drive to a big city to get quality representation.
If you need a personal injury attorney, ask your family, friends and neighbors who they may have used. Do some research, and make an informed decision. As the above situation reveals, which attorney you choose can make a huge difference in how your case comes out. Ask any attorney you meet with if they are willing to take your case to trial if necessary, and how many similar cases they have tried. Insist that you actually meet with the attorney that will be handling your case and not some “investigator”. After all, do you really want to hire an attorney who is “too busy” to meet with you himself? If you are too far away for the attorney to drive to meet you, aren’t you too far away to drive to meet the attorney?
Everything for this client ended up working out for the best. I just worry about that firm’s other clients. Heaven help them if the going get tough in their case.
Thanks for reading,
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901