UNITED STATES—Several high-powered and widely advertised legal firms handle personal injury cases with a surprising sleight of hand. Rather than helping their clients get the compensation they deserve, these firms rush cases through to settlements, collect their fees, and move on.
Known for raking in profits by settling large numbers of cases ultra-fast, these firms are frequently referred to as settlement mills. The high volume of clients that they routinely service makes it all but impossible to give each case the individual attention it deserves.
If you are in the process of shopping for a personal injury attorney, there are several red flags that you might be dealing with a settlement mill.
Settlement Mills Rarely Take Their Cases To Trial
There are several benefits that plaintiffs can gain by working with personal injury attorneys. For instance, an attorney can:
- Assist in the collection and filing of all case-related documents;
- Handle all communication with insurance company representatives;
- Help gather evidence to support your claim;
- Negotiate a fair settlement based upon a comprehensive assessment of your losses.
More importantly, a personal injury attorney can also represent you in court if your case ever goes to trial. When considering your options in picking lawyers, find out how often various firms have won their cases in court. One tell-tale sign of a settlement mill is a lack of experience with trials.
Insurance companies don’t generally feel threatened by settlement mills as these firms don’t dramatically increase the amounts that they have to payout. In fact, studies show that insurance companies actually like them. If insurers want to push plaintiffs to settle quickly, settlement mills will often help. Many settlement mills market their services with promises of ultra-fast settlement offers.
By working with one of these firms, not only will you be limiting your ability to get the highest possible settlement for your claim, but you’ll also be forgoing attorneys with adequate skills and experience for taking your case to trial. More importantly, you may miss out on the peace of mind that comes from knowing that there’s a competent professional at the helm.
When you take the time to hire the right attorney, a car accident lawyer can handle the insurance company while you recover, makes sure that no important deadlines are missed, and verifies that all of your losses, pain, and suffering are properly accounted for.
Settlement Mills Frequently Pressure Their Clients Into Accepting Rushed Settlement Offers
If you choose to work with a settlement mill, you won’t have a lot of leverage for pushing for a trial or for negotiating a higher settlement. These companies frequently offer lower contingency fees to clients who are willing to settle right away.
If you decide that going to trial is the best choice for you, you may wind up facing far higher contingency fees. Check out the online reviews of different firms that consumers leave to find out if this is their manner of doing business.
Failure to Properly Prepare Cases For Trial
A personal injury attorney working with your best interests in mind will start preparing your case for trial at the very start of your relationship. Although going to trial isn’t necessarily the ultimate goal, the best lawyers are ready for whatever comes their way.
Given that settlement mills work with such a high volume of clients, they don’t always know the facts of individual cases, and they rarely go out of their way to learn them.
You Don’t Have A Consistent Point of Contact
If you hire a law firm to handle your personal injury claim but are never given a consistent point of contact, this is a sure sign of trouble. Keep in mind that although you probably won’t speak to your attorney directly every time you call in, you should be able to get in touch with the same paralegal or office assistant.
When paying for these services, it shouldn’t be necessary to explain the details of your case every time you have a question or concern. When firms do not provide a consistent point of contact, this also means that their caseload is too high to offer individualized services and attention.
Your Initial Consultation Wasn’t What You Expected
Before hiring an attorney, be sure to schedule an initial consultation. This will allow you to share all the details of your case and learn more about how the attorney plans to help you get your settlement. The best personal injury attorneys are willing to devote approximately 30 minutes to each consultation appointment.
By doing so, they can determine whether prospective clients have worthwhile claims, whether they’re likely to end up in court, and how much support they’re going to need for a positive outcome.
During these visits, experienced professionals may also share important information about themselves and their case histories. They can additionally tell you why they are uniquely qualified to handle your claim.
Settlement mills don’t generally take the time to make these connections during their appointments. In fact, because you’ll be competing for attention with hundreds of other clients, you’ll likely feel under-valued from the minute you step foot through their door.
There are several drawbacks of working with settlement mills. Although a rushed settlement might seem ideal right now, taking an early offer for far less than what your case is worth could come back to haunt you later.
If your injuries aren’t entirely healed or if your treatments have yet to be completed, you may incur other expenses that should be accounted for in your settlement but aren’t.
A good attorney will always put your needs above all else. This type of professional devotes ample time to your case and makes sure that you are prepared for trial if it winds up being the surest path to success. Unlike settlement mills, quality personal injury attorneys do not charge high fees for work they aren’t actually doing.