- posted: Oct. 17, 2022
Initially, you must understand, accident cases require proof of Negligence which requires “both” Liability and Damages. Liability means another party is at fault, and the law is on your side. If you can’t prove Liability, then you don’t get to the second prong …of Damages. Is there good Property Damage, Injuries and Loss of Earnings? Does your client have full coverage with UM/UIM and the Defendant have the ability pay a judgment?
Cases are rejected for delay and/or a break in treatment, as well as an attorney not believing the case is financially worth pursuing and requires costly litigation. Lawyers are asked to invest their “Personal” money on a case you want handled on a contingency. This means the lawyer does not collect unless you do… and Accident cases are expensive and time intensive since Covid. The Indio Court is backed up by 1700 criminal cases, as of October 17, 2022. I predict another civil freeze where only criminal cases go out for trial, as they take preference over civil.
Lawyer’s deal with victims during the most financially challenging times of their life. Often, they are not able to work, drive or have no insurance for medical treatment. Clients’ need cars for doctor’s visits to prove their injuries, and in the Coachella Valley, unlike LA, many doctors will NOT accept treatment on a LIEN… which requires doctors to await payment until settlement.
Ortho & Neuro specialists, X-rays and MRI’s are very expensive. Does the client pay, or do they expect the lawyer to pay or coordinate a loan for the client? Of course, everyone has to take into consideration, what if the case does not generate any money? Then who pays?
A case is lost when it doesn’t settle or a jury awards a Defense verdict. Maybe your client saw a chiropractor they had seen before for an unknown injury. Sometimes, the Insurance Company has a very prestigious Ortho, who says the chiro was wrong …and a judge or jury believes the Ortho over the chiro? Often, CV doctors don’t know how to prepare a med/legal report or the doc doesn’t order Physical Therapy …and just says come back in 2 months? For years I lectured at the International College of Surgeons Convention, on “How to Write a Med/Legal Report”, not just a medical report…because they don’t teach that in medical school.
In addition to legal overhead, hiring investigators, experts, accident reconstructionist, deposition and reporter’s costs are expensive as is ordering the doctor’s or hospital’s med records. Many docs will charge thousands of dollars for the report alone, and the insurance company won’t pay the report fee. For trial, lawyers often hire a company that prepares an expensive video of how the accident and injury happened.
Attorneys pay medical experts for consultations and reports. One doctor wanted $10,000 per hour to talk to me, and I paid $2,500 for a 15 minute consultation. Absent a large case, the costs may eat up what the client should collect and I don’t want an unhappy client at the end because too much money went to costs.
A client who saw an Eisenhower doctor that moved to New York, demanded $10,000 /day, 1st class airfare and a 4 Star hotel and food to testify…which I paid. Dozens of cases are set for trial each day, and the courtroom may not be open yet, or the case from yesterday is not concluded. The doctor/expert will charge all over again for the next day and demand payment before going to court again.
Cases are typically rejected when the lawyer believes there would be a problem with Liability or Damages…or the client’s previous statements to the insurance company, that can come back to haunt the case. I often say Silence is Golden and Handcuffs are Silver. You can only hurt a case by talking to the insurance company or police or deny being injured. Lawyers don’t know what was said or “what the insurance adjuster THOUGHT they heard.”
Clients are advised to remove Social Media on all Accident/DUI cases, but often don’t. Today’s insurance adjusters have an easy job. They follow plaintiff’s posts talking about playing a sport; taking a trip and carrying luggage, or a slip and fall in the bathroom or poolside etc. Adjusters will consider all future treatment as being from the new accident.
What if the client doesn’t notify his/her lawyer of any of this…OR forgets to divulge a prior accident? Sometimes it’s a school friend who says online, “wasn’t that the same injury you had on your motorcycle before graduation?” The insurance company learns of this and gets the client to say there were no prior injuries, and from that point on the judge or jury does not believe them. In other words you want a good credible client without substance abuse issues?
These are just a few of the challenges facing PI Lawyers acceptance of a case, because with an insurance company, you will NOT BE DEALING WITH A FRIENDLY NEIGHBOR WHO WILL GIVE YOU, A PIECE OF THE ROCK.