Will Going To Trial Affect The Overall Costs Of The Personal Injury Process As Well As My Settlement?
Yes, going to trial will certainly affect the costs of the process as well as your portion of the settlement. It’s certainly more expensive to litigate cases than to settle them before litigation. However, I’ve been doing this for a while, and I have a good handle on how to try a case as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Still, even with an experienced attorney, the costs of litigating a case are going to be much higher than the costs of settling pre-litigation. For this reason, we are extremely wary of adding extra costs during the litigation or litigation prep process. We are constantly reviewing our cases and determining whether or not it is worth it, for instance, to hire a particular expert, knowing that if we do, we need to be able to justify the additional cost. When we evaluate whether or not to hire experts, we think about whether hiring that expert will increase the offer to where it will offset the cost and become a value to the client.
Again, at the end of the day, the client is only going to really care about how much money they get in their pocket. They’re not going to care about who gets paid what or what the total settlement is. That’s for the billboards that you see driving around town. I care about what my clients care about. How much do my clients get in their pocket at the end of this case? How much money do they have for next 10, 20, 30 years to pay for medical expenses, including follow-up treatments that they’re going inevitably need? Those are things that we look at when we’re narrowing down costs.
Still, even then, going to trial will affect the costs of a case. In fact, as we have mentioned elsewhere in this book, sometimes the lower settlement pre-suit will net a larger recovery than going to trial, even if the verdict is larger, because of how costly trial can be. It’s important that clients understand this, and that it is a very important matrix that we are constantly evaluating and looking at.
What Are Some Mistakes That You’ve Seen Injured People Make That Can Potentially Reduce A Settlement, Or Ruin The Chance Of Getting Any Settlement At All?
There are a number of mistakes that I’ve seen injured folks make throughout the years that have hurt their cases, or could have potentially hurt their cases.
One of those mistakes is exaggerating the extent to which they are injured. In the beginning of a case, I try to do the best I can to explain to my clients that we do not want them to exaggerate their injuries. A common misconception among some clients is that the worse they say an injury hurts, the more money they will get. In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite.
If you have a little fender-bender and you say it’s a 10 out of 10 pain, 10 being the worst pain imaginable, you’re going to come across as insincere and like an unreliable narrator. You will come across as though you’re just making it up or exaggerating, or you’re looking for what I like to call “Jackpot Justice.”
This will hurt our ability to build your case. In the best of circumstances, in every personal injury case we are fighting a constant uphill battle. The defense will always be insinuating that our clients are exaggerating their injuries, whether or not they actually are. They claim our clients are malingering, or making up their injuries, even if they never come out and directly say it. For instance, they may bring an expert medical witness who will say something like, “Well, in a typical case like this, we expect patients to be fully recovered in 4 to 6 weeks,” without ever having actually seen the patient in a medical capacity. This insinuates without actually saying outright that our client is a liar because they didn’t get better in 4 to 6 weeks.
One of our jobs in these cases is to constantly expose the bad-faith attempts to claim that our clients are lying about their injuries. However, if you actually exaggerate your injuries, it makes it very, very difficult for us to do so.
For this reason, we always tell our clients to make their complaints known to their doctors, and to be honest if they are in pain, but to never, ever exaggerate injuries. Doctors have their own ways to know if a patient is exaggerating. For instance, if you’re claiming that you’ve got pain radiating into your back up, but due to your specific injuries that sort of pain would be physiologically impossible, they may question whether or not you are telling the full truth about what you are experiencing. In medicine and in law, it’s never a good idea to exaggerate your injuries.
Another common mistake I see has less to do with the actions of clients and more to do with their perception. Some clients think that every case is similar and will have similar outcomes with similar financial settlements. For example, if their neighbor got into a crash and they got $75,000, they think that they are also guaranteed $75,000. In reality, this is not always the case. Each case is different, and will have different outcomes. Comparing two cases is sometimes like comparing apples to oranges, but many people make that mistake.
Two common mistakes I see clients making at the beginning of their cases is not collecting evidence—photographic and otherwise—soon enough after a car accident or a slip-and-fall, and not contacting an attorney to do so on their behalf. If you are physically able to collect evidence directly after an accident, you should do so. If for whatever reason you are unable to do so, you should contact an attorney, or even a friend or family member, to do so on your behalf.
Still, perhaps the most common mistake that I see—and often the most damaging—is exaggerating injuries. Every personal injury case is really a race to the truth, and credibility and truthfulness is always quite literally on trial. It’s hard to overstate how damaging it can be to sully your own reputation and credibility by exaggerating your injuries. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be brutally honest with your physicians and doctors, as well as with the court during personal injury proceedings.
What Is Important For Potential Clients To Know About Your Firm’s Experience Representing Injured Persons In Florida Personal Injury Cases?
What’s important to know about our firm is that we’ve been doing this for quite a while. We understand the common pitfalls and faulty arguments commonly made by the defense in these cases. We can anticipate these mistakes and be proactive with addressing them. This allows us to easily eliminate bad facts, or neutralize them by putting them into context.
In other words, we don’t shy away from dirty tricks the defense likes to play. If they introduce a bad fact, we come and hit it head-on. For example, if you have a preexisting condition or injury, and the defense tries to use that to discount your claim, we don’t run from it. Rather, we disarm it by putting it in context. We explain that actually, your preexisting condition makes you more susceptible to injury, or that your preexisting condition actually worsened the impact of the injury on your body. It is much easier to believe and understand how an injury could be catastrophic if there was previous stress on the body part in question. For instance, if a person’s spine was weakened from years and years of trauma before a crash, it is actually easier to understand how even a seemingly minor impact could cause a catastrophic injury. We also add the legal context: in this case, that whether or not someone had a preexisting condition, they must be taken “as-is”, and cannot be discounted for their condition.
Those are the kind of things that we’re good at. Our experience taught us what the defense’s pitfalls are, as well as how to anticipate them and how to use them against the defense in real time.
I also have a background in education, which helps with my ability to explain complicated things simply and clearly, but in a compelling fashion. I was a history teacher before I went to law school, so I like to pride myself on being able to teach the jurors or adjusters by taking a complex issue and breaking it down into very simple terms, or using metaphors that help communicate and explain what’s really going on with my clients.
Probably the most important thing to know about our firm is that we truly care for our clients as human beings. I believe in the old attorney’s adage: how do we get a jury to care for a client and act on their behalf if we can’t personally do the same? In my field and in this day and age, this type of viewpoint can be considered contrarian or outdated. Some attorneys are very clear about their mission, which is just to win the case and nothing more. According to them, we aren’t therapists, so our job is to represent the client, not to really care about them and their story.
I take the opposite approach. I think if you can care about your client as human being, and really care about their outcome, it will change how you work together and how you handle the case from beginning to end. In my experience, this difference has always been palpable. The defense can see it, the jury can see it, and the judge can see it. Really getting to know and care about our clients gives us a distinct advantage. Whereas the defense has hundreds of clients and who are basically just file numbers to them, we are truly emotionally invested in the outcome of our clients’ cases, and argue accordingly. In the end, we’re willing to do what it takes to change their lives for the better. That’s a main part of our mission statement: really trying to change lives and helping the people we care about. That’s been our priority from Day 1, and has remained our priority every day since.
For more information on Personal Injury Cases In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 546-7608 today.