Personal injury cases could come from a slip and fall at a retail store, a car accident on the highway, or a falling tree limb on a neighbor’sneighbor’s property. Regardless of how the injury occurs, the costs of medical treatment, recovery, and property damage may not be your liability. However, getting a fair settlement from an insurance company is challenging. Many people turn to legal help to get the compensation they deserve but run into the unfortunate experience of dealing with a settlement mill.
Defining Settlement Mills
Television ads for personal injury lawyers tend to appear bold and aggressive, with messages firmly declaring your need to hire these experts for your personal injury case. In many cases, these law firms are nothing more than settlement mills. While not every advertising agency is a settlement mill, many attornies investing heavily in daytime and late-night television advertising are nothing more than settlement mill law firms.
This kind of law firm will take a large volume of injury cases, benefiting financially from the mass production approach to legal action. To substantiate their bold claims of success, these personal injury attorneys have a reputation for getting a quick settlement, but typically because they convince their clients to accept a lower settlement amount than they should receive.
Recognizing Settlement Mills
While a television commercial might be an easy way to spot a settlement mill, you probably have locally-based law firms that take the same approach to settle your personal injury claim. While the settlement mill law firms advertised on television usually have a national audience, you can never be sure who you work with when you make a phone call. Whether at the national or local level, settlement mills process tens of thousands of personal injury claims each year.
This reputation and experience may be attractive in a personal injury attorney, but you won’twon’t get full and fair compensation when you work with settlement mill attorneys.
The two key signs that should send up red flags about a possible settlement mill are the television ads and website design. Settlement mill lawyers tend to share similar tones, styles, and claims when trying to attract attention. Once you get past the flashy advertising, look at how the agency handles your claim.
Signs you’re dealing with a settlement mill
You may be dealing with a settlement mill if any of the following happen while you are trying to settle your case:
- You aren’t paired with a lawyer but instead placed into a paralegal’s care.
- The paralegal is working alone and only wants the basic details of the case to move to the next case waiting for attention.
- You are quickly contacted with a settlement offer and come under pressure to accept it.
- The law firm issues a deal to reduce or change its contingency fee structure if you quickly accept the settlement offer.
- The law firm’s fee structure adjusts to a much higher expense if you insist that your case goes to trial.
A settlement mill is interested in turning a quick profit while adding more success stories to its long list of advertising talking points. This is how settlement mills differ from a personal injury lawyer intent on helping you get the compensation you deserve.
Seeing the Truth of Settlement Mills
All attorneys need advertising to secure new clients. However, reputable law firms value word-of-mouth and referral advertising to build their business. Settlement mills need a high volume of cases to make any money. They need flashy advertising and attractive talking points to get the most attention. While they may use a high-profile lawyer to guarantee their time and resources to your case, most of the workforce behind personal injury settlement mills is paralegals.
It’sIt’s not unusual for paralegals to help a law firm assist as many clients as possible; the tactics and experience level should concern you. A settlement mill law firm places heavy pressure on the paralegals to deliver on a quota of settlements and reach a settlement quickly. The legal ethics behind their tactics are questionable. Your personal injury compensation shouldn’t be in their hands.
You should only work with a personal injury attorney who is personally dedicated to seeing your case through. While legitimate personal injury lawyers often file fewer lawsuits, their clients receive more attention and resources. This often leads to a better working relationship and more favorable results for the client. It also goes a long way in spreading the good word about the law firm.
Seeing the Tactics of Settlement Mills
When you are injured, worrying about where the money will come from to take care of your bills or cover lost income is stressful. With your financial stability on the line, it’s only fair that you receive the maximum compensation allowed according to personal injury law. While settlement mill claims are typically successful, this is because of how they handle the case.
Personal injury settlement mills know you desperately need money to handle the unplanned expenses and stress your injury brought. They capitalize on the urgency of your situation and motivate you through fear or coercion.
The Job of the Settlement Mill Negotiator
Settlement mills won’twon’t spend a lot of time preparing your case to go to trial. Their goal is to avoid trial and work directly with insurance companies for an out-of-court settlement. Unlike local personal injury law firms that dedicate hours to gathering evidence, preparing arguments, and talking to experts or witnesses, a settlement mill negotiator uses past settlements as a bargaining chip when talking to the insurance claims adjuster. You are no longer a valued injury victim but a case number to close as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
An actual attorney willing to fight on behalf of their clients usually offers free initial consultations to make sure the potential client is a good fit for the lawyer. Law clerks then assist in developing the case and legal argument to present to the court. Injury victims are given personalized, dedicated service where the team has no intention of making a deal that devalues their injury and lowers the amount of money they deserve. While a settlement mill law firm has the same opportunity to take your case to trial, they would rather persuade you to take a settlement and avoid the costly headache of a trial.
Realizing the Difference With Personal Injury Attorneys
Insurance companies are just as happy to make a quick settlement as a settlement mill, as prolonging the case only increases the money it will have to pay. Nothing in the legal system requires you to settle claims with insurance companies on a specific timeline. A settlement mill may try to convince you that time is of the essence, but this is not the case. Accepting the first offer could leave you receiving a few thousand dollars less than you are owed.
Attorneys who fight on your behalf are more interested in getting your medical bills paid, your lost wages recovered, and your emotional trauma addressed than making the insurance company happy. This legal help takes an active role in helping you receive the compensation necessary to support you through your rehabilitation or permanent disability.
Working with an attorney offering free consultation time or a free case review is essential. Not every injury is eligible for significant compensation, given the complexities of the legal system. A personal injury lawyer that cares about their clients will give you an honest assessment of your case and the potential for a favorable outcome if you go to trial. They may advise you to take a settlement, but look at the motive that drives the advice.
Getting an Alternative Option to a Settlement Mill
It can be overwhelming to try and deal with your injuries and recovery while trying to find legal help for your situation. By contacting 1-800-Ask-Gary, you have personalized advice to guide you in choosing a lawyer to represent your case. You can also get your questions answered concerning medical care and how to choose a doctor. Don’tDon’t get caught in a settlement mill. There are better options, and 1-800-Ask-Gary can help you find them.