Proper legal representation is the perfect balance of research + communication. So what are the secret strategies of some of the best in the personal injury lawyers? We polled the industry and here is insider information from six in the know.
Sherwin Arzani, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, is a founding partner of Citywide Law Group in Los Angeles, CA. For the past 15 years, he has been committed to helping accident victims assert their rights and obtain the compensation they deserve.
**INVESTIGATION IS KEY**
Never approach negotiations in a personal injury case unless you’ve spent quality time investigating the case. Clients don’t always know what information their lawyer needs, so they often leave important details out. Other times, clients are unaware of factors that affect their case. The simple solution to this problem is by thoroughly investigating all personal injury matters. I’m able to more fully understand the cases I handle and be a better advocate for my clients after I look into an accident on my own.
**EXPERTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE**
Many attorneys forego the assistance of expert witnesses when handling personal injury cases. In my view, this is a mistake. Experts may cost money up front, but the benefits can certainly make the investment worthwhile. As an attorney, I’m not an expert in medicine, injuries, physics, or property valuation. Bringing in someone who really understands these (and other) areas can provide a wealth of information. This information can be used as leverage in negotiations, which is what’s best for the client.
**DON’T BE AFRAID TO LITIGATE**
The threat of litigation is a powerful weapon in negotiations. Insurance companies want to avoid going the time and expense of going to court. They’d much rather settle a lawsuit privately than risk losing in front of a compassionate jury. I always make it clear that I am not afraid to go to trial, and insurance companies and defendants’ attorneys in the area know it. My reputation for being a tenacious trial attorney helps my clients to secure the financial awards they deserve.
The strategies employed by a personal injury lawyer can make or break a client’s case. Here are the strategies I’ve developed in the years since I first became a personal injury attorney.
–KNOW THE OTHER SIDE–
The best way to get desired results in a personal injury case is by knowing the other side. The better you understand the opposition and how they generally approach cases like yours, the more you can help your client. When you know how your opponent thinks and which strategies they typically employ, you can change your strategy accordingly. Preventing the opposition from relying on their normal tactics can put a wrench in their case and give you an advantage.
Complacency will not help clients to obtain the money they need after an accident. As a personal injury lawyer, I carefully scrutinize every statement, document, and piece of information that may be relevant to my client’s case. The more I question things, the more I can understand what caused an accident and who may be to blame. Taking the time to analyze specific case details allows me to develop and adopt the best strategy for winning a particular case. What works for one case may not be the best design for the next.
–USE OUTSIDE HELP–
Strong arguments are ones based in fact and evidence. Lawyers aren’t experts on everything. It pays to hire experts who understand the more complicated or nuanced aspects of a personal injury case.
Richard Morse III
Richard Morse III, a graduate of the University of Vermont Law School, is a personal injury lawyer in San Diego, CA. As a former insurance defense attorney, Richard is all-too-familiar with the uphill battle many plaintiffs face as they fight to recover compensation. Today, he and the team at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC are dedicated to leveling the playing field and helping injured accident victims and consumers obtain the money they deserve.
Ms. Willis handles serious injury, accident & death cases in Orlando, Florida. She is a former law professor and big firm defense lawyer, who spends a lot of time educating her clients about how to get the most money possible from their cases, then fighting hard to help them recover every penny they deserve.
Although this is very simple, we believe we are best able to increase case values by spending time listening to our clients, and making sure they understand the importance of listening to their doctor, communicating well with their doctor (like mentioning complaining about everything that hurts), and continuing any recommended medical treatment. We also think a client educated about the litigation process leads to a higher accident case value, since they are less likely to make innocent mistakes that can destroy their case value. We also believe that thoroughly reviewing all medical records, and other evidence (like accident reports), helps us get higher case values.
So, essentially, being thorough when communicating with our clients, or reviewing any evidence, is really our secret strategy for getting the most money from each accident case.
The best strategy is to get to know your client—well.
Good personal injury lawyers will spend lots of time speaking with their clients and sometimes their clients families to learn more about who they are as a person and invariably how the injury has affected the client’s life. While our office does use an intake form which asks questions about the client, I find that I get more information through conversation.
Often, clients don’t know that they may be able to recover for certain things so they don’t write them on the intake form or wouldn’t mention it if not for the conversation with me. For example, a client who coaches his son’s baseball team and is injured in an accident may not be able to coach his son’s team for the rest of the season. This is important information.
First, it gives me the information I need to humanize the client to the insurance adjuster–who hasn’t met my client and doesn’t know that he’s an active father and the accident has affected him in that way unless I tell them.
Second, it also lets the insurance company know that a jury will do the same. It will be harder for the insurance company to claim and the jurors to accept, that my client is just going after money.
Third, if there are costs that were associated (e.g. “Coach” jersey’s printed or increase in fee for son to play since dad no longer coaching) we can try and recover those as well.
Also, when you get to know the client and really understand the client and their lives you can tell their story more effectively and more convincingly whether to an insurance company or a jury of 12.
Have clients take pictures or videos of themselves before, during, and after treatment. As the old saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. You’ll be able to use the pictures while negotiating.
Saying that your client has a big bruise that hasn’t gone away is one thing, showing them the picture of just how big and ugly it is, is another—and if it’s big and ugly enough the adjuster or opposing counsel is not going to want the jury to see it, thereby increasing the chance for a bigger settlement prior to trial.
Encourage clients to keep a treatment journal detailing the treatment they’ve received, and how they feel. Treatment can take weeks, months, or sometimes years.
During pre-trial negotiations and during trial, the attorney will want to make sure that he or she is adequately conveying the amount of loss suffered by the client–this includes pain and suffering. However, after the passage of time client’s memories become faded and they forget just how awful they felt. Having a journal reminds them, allows the attorney to understand and then communicate, and is great for refreshing the client’s memory when it’s time for trial.
Falen O. Cox, Esq.
Falen O. Cox, Esq., Partner at Cox, Rodman, & Middleton, LLC
Lance J. Robinson
Owner and lead attorney @ The Law Office of Lance J. Robinson
Lance J. Robinson is a trusted New Orleans attorney with over 22 years of experience in dealing with criminal and civil matters.
When working with personal injury clients, there are a few strategies I like to consider. Here are some important strategy tips:
- Gain the sympathy of the judge or the jury. Your best bet in a personal injury case is usually presenting evidence documenting your client’s injuries. Not only can you confirm the extent of your client’s injuries, but you can help win sympathy from the judge or jury when they see the painful injuries your client sustained.
- Consider the reliability of the witnesses involved. Vet your witnesses carefully and make sure they practice their testimony. A reliable eyewitness who has nothing to gain from lying can help bolster your client’s case immensely.
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