WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF A PERSONAL INJURY CASE FOR AN ATTORNEY TO DEAL WITH?
The single most difficult thing we have to deal with is the insurance company; that’s where the rubber meets the road; the only thing a personal injury attorney can do is to be direct about it and get compensation from the insurance company for the client. That’s the only job we really have in personal injury, to get compensation for the medical bills and lost wages incurred and, the most important, for the pain and suffering, the inconvenience and discomfort that they have suffered due to the negligence of another person.
The insurance company has the gold and the golden rule is often “He who has the gold makes the rules.” As a graphic picture, we have an injured person who has hopefully gotten good medical care; we refer our clients to physicians for our clients that we know are very good and we are proud to do that. They will hold onto their bills until settlement, but the medical part is the single most important aspect for the client because, while money comes and goes, they only get one body.
Once they are done treating, I go in to action to get that person money for what they have suffered; the art of it is mainly getting the money for the pain and suffering part. The insurance company has the money, so initially we have to go hat in hand to them to ask for voluntary compensation, a voluntary settlement, on behalf of our client and they can call the shots. It’s their money and, at that stage of settlement negotiations, they have the gold and they make the rules; they don’t have to pay a penny voluntarily. They can be made to pay that penny by going to trial and having a judge or jury decide the value of the claim, but most insurance companies don’t want to go to trial, which is good because most clients don’t want to, either.
Everyone has to find a way to split the loaf of bread and the insurance company holds all the cards in the beginning; we have the threat of taking the insurance company and their insured to trial if they don’t voluntarily give us something close to what we are asking for. The most difficult part is this stage of a personal injury claim is submitting a claim package, having the insurance company review it and then beginning negotiations. Most cases settle, which can be an agonizing and difficult process, but that’s what we’re paid for; that is the art of the deal, although it is the most challenging.