Why You Should Avoid Settlement Mills
“Settlement Mill” law firms are like the lost cost superstore of the legal industry. Most are viewed negatively in the legal profession. Settlement Mills are a firm that processes and settles as many cases as possible every month. In their words you will be “processed”. Extended trial fights for additional settlement funds and client needs are avoided. Huge marketing budgets and closing goals need to be met putting pressure on these organizations to cut corners. Fast settlements are prioritized over maximized settlement amounts the client’s case details may justify.
Auto Injury Settlement Mill Formula:
Higher Volume of Cases Closed + More Advertising = Profit at the Expense of Client
By consulting with a real law firm, you receive personalized service.
Legitimate attorneys will honestly investigate and inform you of your best legal options.
Concern for you as a client SHOULD be above “processing” your cases.
Auto Injury Legitimate Law Firm Formula:
Referred Clients + Honest Consultations = Higher Settlement for Client & Law Firm
Before making a quick decision, you should receive at least one traditional consultation.
If the firm you consult with is overbooked or unable to help they will refer you another capable attorney. Referrals happen frequently because of the growing number of injured drivers and passengers on today’s fast pace roadways.
What to Look For When Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
Auto accident attorneys cover a range of issues stemming from personal injury, wrongful death, property destruction, and liability determinations. When looking for a lawyer, you should concentrate on their experience, skill level, commitment, location, and fee structure.
For example, your attorney should be well versed in state and national transportation laws, know how to deal with insurance and health care companies, and know how to effectively prepare and settle a case. Also, it’s important that you check the attorney’s background, references, and track record.
Lastly, a good lawyer will typically accept your case on a contingency or “no win-no fee” basis if the attorney feels your case has any merit, so it’s important to check the attorney’s standard fee structure.
Meeting with a lawyer for the first time
Here are some tips for when you sit down with a lawyer. Remember, initial personal injury consultations are normally free of charge and could take anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour, depending on the complexities of your case.
The cost and time can change from industry to industry (employment law is different from personal injury law, which is different from traffic law, which is different from patent law), so always make sure to ask. If you’re looking for a lawyer after an accident, you’ll notice that many law firm websites say “free consultation”, which is the norm for personal injury lawyers.
Know your narrative
One of the things your potential attorney will be assessing when you’re sitting together is whether you have a case and whether you will make a good witness, should your case proceed to trial. They are assessing you as much as you are assessing them – you both want to make sure you are a good fit, somewhat like in a job interview.
The attorney will be looking to determine: Do you seem genuine? Do you stumble over the facts of your story, or do you know them inside and out? Are you constantly referring to your notes, or do you know the dates of when everything happened? Are you complaining of pain but presenting as perfectly fine?
These are basic items that an attorney will assess because your credibility as a witness can be essential to a case. Additionally, if you don’t know the thread to your own timeline, that is a bad sign.
Your attorney can’t help you if you don’t help yourself.
Many people try to make themselves look better than they were in a situation (“Oh, I was driving 40 miles per hour,” when it was actually 75 miles per hour, or “Yes, I was perfectly attentive,” when you were really applying mascara while running a stop sign).
What kind of settlement should I expect from a car accident?
One guideline for determining a settlement is that the total will be about three times the cost of your medical bills. However, a variety of factors go into deciding the average settlement for a car accident.
A judge will take into account the type of injury, treatment plan, length of therapy, loss of income and severity of the wreck. In most cases, a settlement is only offered when the medical treatment has been completed. Permanent injuries will influence the amount of compensation that you receive.
If you’re working with an insurance company after a car wreck, let them know if you’re still going through medical treatment so that you don’t settle for less than you deserve.
Can You Collect Additional Damages?
Although auto accident settlements do not often exceed the policy limits, suing beyond policy limits is possible. However, you will likely have to look to other sources to obtain more compensation.
Here are a few ways to collect extra damages if your claim exceeds your policy limits.
If the defendant has an umbrella policy, you may be able to collect extra damages from that policy. Umbrella policies kick in after other policies have paid out their maximums.
Corporate defendants, such as trucking companies, are more likely to have umbrella policies than individuals. However, it is important to discover what kind of coverage the defendant has. That way, you can draw from as many resources as possible to ensure you are compensated fairly.
If more than one person can be held responsible for the accident, you may be able to recover under multiple insurance policies. For example, if you were hit by a delivery truck, both the driver and the trucking company may be liable.
If each has a $50,000 bodily injury policy limit, you could potentially recover up to $100,000 between the two insurance companies if your injuries demand such a payout.
Personal Judgment Against the Defendant
Remember, the person who is ultimately responsible for the accident is the defendant. The insurance company pays damages only because they have a contract with the defendant to do so.
If your damages are greater than the defendant’s insurance policy limits, you may be entitled to a judgment for more than the policy limits. You could potentially recover the remaining judgment by garnishing the defendant’s wages or putting a lien on their property.
An insurance company may act in bad faith if it denies a claim even though it knows that the claim should be approved. If the insurance company refuses to enter into a reasonable settlement that is less than the policy limits, a jury could award damages greater than the limits.