- posted: Nov. 28, 2014
I felt sad when USC lost this week to Washington and then when coach Sark was let go. I also felt terrible when 3 potential clients called over the weekend wanting a legal answer over the phone or wanting me to represent them... and I could NOT accept their cases. I know they would not expect a doctor or contractor to diagnose or give a bid without meeting the patient or customer in person but somehow a lawyer is often thought of differently.
It makes me sick when potential clients call and I explain why I cannot accept their civil case but it is hard for most people to understand why. At The Law Office of Dale Gribow our focus is on favorably resolving our client's civil and criminal problems.
On all civil litigation we are concerned with our client being able to "stay in the game" because of their inferior financial situation compared to that of the other party. Other than with a contingency accident case, most civil cases are handled only on an hourly. That can be very expensive.
Therefore I ask each potential hourly client, "Who has more money... you or the other party?" The last thing we want is to start litigation on a good case and then have our client tell us they have to fold their cards and drop the case because they can no longer afford the litigation. If the other party has more money and knows it, they often "paper" us with motions etc. Unfortunately a less affluent client cannot "stay in the game".
Another consideration is whether our client has a prior Felony record, as the judge will issue a jury instruction that they can decide how much credence to give to the testimony of a convicted felon. Also important is whether the client has a history of suing people or being sued. For an accident case does the client have a prior history of accidents or injuries to the same area?
In addition we consider whether the client contacted us in a timely manner and whether they had been talking to the lawyer for the other side or an adjuster etc. If so, we will never know what the client said OR WHAT THE OTHER PARTY THOUGHT he heard my client say. That is how a lawyer gets blindsided in trial.
A large amount of my practice is collecting compensation for accident victims, a contract dispute and real estate issues. Accident victim's compensation is more difficult today because of new insurance company policies of denying and delaying.
Today insurance companies offer $6,000 when the victim has a medical bill of $9000 and clear liability. If we accepted that amount and paid 100% of the accrued bills there would be no money left for the victim. We do not want to accept a case when we know the victim will not be happy and will be a victim twice. Thus we reject many small soft tissue cases.
If we decide to go to trial, the costs dramatically increase. It can take between $15,000 to $50,000 to pay for court costs, investigation and expert witness testimony on a soft tissue case. The lawyer, client and witnesses are all required to increase the time spent to prepare for trial and the client has to wait several years for the case to get to trial because of California's court cutbacks.
After reading this you can easily see why it is not always in the client's best interest to take a case to trial. This again is a reason to not accept a case.