The primary job duty of a personal injury attorney is to fight hard on the behalf of their clients and represent them with dignity in a court of law. Every lawyer wants to maximize their clients’ financial compensation, and many attorneys pride themselves on the lofty settlement amounts they have won on behalf of their clientele.
Like every other field of work, there are good lawyers, and there are bad lawyers. While there is no such thing as a perfect attorney, there are certain legal “experts” out there who commit real-life errors that can put their client’s financial compensation in jeopardy.
As a citizen, it is important for you to know that not every Houston personal injury attorney will deliver the same service and outcome. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the common negotiating mistakes that are made by personal injury attorneys.
Not Knowing Your Claim’s Value
An important part of succeeding as a personal injury attorney is being able to properly appraise your claim’s value. One of the biggest mistakes lawyers make is not knowing the value of the case they are working on, causing them to make unreasonable demands when it is time to negotiate settlement offers. When an attorney sets their “price” at a ridiculously high rate, the defense lawyers will begin to heavily invest in case defense, which may cause you to spend much more time on depositions, interrogatories, document production, and many more tasks.
If this happens and you begin to realize that your client’s claim value is lower than you initially thought, you may have already lost your chance at maximizing your recovery. At this point, the defense will typically balk at making any sort of settlement offer because from their point of view, they have already front-loaded far too many resources into their defense costs to spend even more money on a settlement offer.
It is extremely important for lawyers to make sure they do not accidentally overprice their claim’s value. Attorneys who have not meticulously studied their client’s case may find themselves in court struggling to properly explain their case’s value, failing both themselves and their client.
Confidence is an important quality that most top tier lawyers possess, but at times, lawyers can allow their self-assuredness to turn into arrogance. Quality lawyers know that regardless of their experience, talent, or knowledge, they should never approach a lawsuit with a know-it-all attitude. Arrogance and boastfulness can result in an unwillingness to compromise, as well as a propensity to request lofty and unrealistic settlement amounts that will do nothing but make the defense less likely to make viable, realistic counteroffers.
In addition to this, the best lawyers also know how to deploy common courtesy. Backing down should never be an option once you enter a court of law, but the most successful attorneys know that your confidence should never impede your ability to be a “people person”. The best personal injury lawyers are confident in their abilities while also knowing that nothing is guaranteed. They speak confidently and are quick to defend their client whenever they are wrongfully attacked, while also being polite and kind to every individual they share the courtroom with.
While this may seem like an easy mistake to avoid, it still deserves to be mentioned. Inexperienced attorneys may make the mistake of sharing certain comments with the. In certain situations, lawyers may even make the mistake of confiding in a defense lawyer about their uncertainty or lack of confidence in their ability to win the case at hand.
Speaking to an insurance adjuster or defense lawyer “off the record” is never a good idea. The only goal these people have in mind is to avoid responsibility for your injuries, damages, and losses. Because of this, if a personal injury attorney or their plaintiff decides to self-sabotage by confiding in a defense lawyer (or someone close to them), the entire value of their case may be compromised.
Failure to Review Records
You can’t pass a class without doing your homework, and you can’t win a case without conducting a proper investigation. In certain instances, personal injury attorneys fail to interview eyewitnesses or study important background information, such as the medical records of their client. Lawyers who go to trial without doing their due diligence are setting themselves up for failure. They are putting their clients’ financial wellbeing at risk, and if the attorney is working on a contingency fee basis, they are even putting their own payday in jeopardy.
Failure to properly review the medical records of a client can be especially detrimental. When a lawsuit begins, insurance adjusters and their defense lawyers are usually in a rush to get their hands on the plaintiff’s medical records. They do this in an attempt to begin poking holes in the plaintiff’s case. Adjusters and their lawyers typically try to find a history of drug use, prior injuries, or reckless behavior in an attempt to portray the plaintiff in a negative light. If a defense lawyer is able to convince the judge and jury that the plaintiff’s damages were not completely caused by the incident in question, your client may find themselves at risk of accepting a much smaller recovery amount than previously expected.
Personal injury attorneys need to be experts on their clients’ medical records and medical history. They must also make sure they are studying any and all other relevant documents and information related to this case. In certain instances, attorneys have compromised their clients’ loss of earning capacity claims because they failed to property evaluate their client’s work history.
Viewing Insurance Adjusters as “All the Same”
Quality attorneys are able to see the patterns and similarities amongst insurance adjusters. However, they know that even though certain adjusters may use the same tricks and excuses, each and every situation is different. Do your best to remember that no two insurance adjusters are the same. Do your research and understand exactly whom it is you are going against. In addition to this, do your best to keep your cool if you enter court and you are taken aback by how unfamiliar you are with an adjuster of this type.
Lack of Objectivity
Personal injury cases can be extremely emotionally charged. Compassionate lawyers who are working closely with their clients can begin to feel sympathetic towards their situation. As a result of this, they may begin to over evaluate their clients’ recoverable damages in an attempt to maximize their financial recovery. While it is simply human nature to feel bad for someone close to you who is going through a hard time, quality lawyers cannot let this destroy the case at hand. Do your best to always remember that even though it is your job to help your client recover from their accident, as much as possible, you must maintain a certain level of objectivity at all times. Properly evaluating your case’s value from the beginning will not only help your negotiations go exponentially smoother, but it may also help you save time and settle your case a bit sooner than expected.
Failure to Use Objective Experts
Many of the top lawyers possess expert investigative skills, and other elite litigation experts work closely with professional investigators who help them see details they may have otherwise overlooked. However, if a personal injury attorney decides who hire a second- or third-party expert to assist them with their case, they need to make sure the person in question has a stellar reputation that demonstrates objectivity and fairness.
Taking the Wrong Advice
It is not uncommon for an attorney to spend well over a decade mastering their craft before ever stepping into a courtroom. Because of this, these professionals are typically experts at what they do, but it is still common for lawyers to seek a second opinion from their peers.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but top tier attorneys are typically very wary of who they take advice from. Quality lawyers typically only take feedback from their fellow legal experts, whereas a faulty attorney may succumb to the advice given from family members, friends, and Internet forums.
It is perfectly fine for an attorney to seek a second opinion, and as we previously stated, approaching every case without a “know-it-all” attitude is one of the first steps towards being great at what you do.
Pusch & Nguyen | Houston Personal Injury Attorneys
Personal injury lawyers can change your life for the better. The best in the business are individuals who are able to take a broken situation and help its victim see the light at the end of the tunnel. Personal injuries are never wanted, but when they do happen, receiving a fair settlement offer can be the difference between making a full recovery and permanently succumbing to your ailments.
Pre-trial settlement negotiations can be extremely high-stress for all parties involved, but at the end of the day, negotiation is an art. No two interactions will be the same, but if you are an injured citizen looking to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you, make sure it is someone who will fight for your rights without committing critical errors that can destroy the value of your case.
Searching for a quality Houston personal injury lawyer can be extremely difficult. There are so many to choose from, and this is a decision that cannot be taken lightly. If you are interested in fighting for your rights and pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses, the Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm can help. Serving Houston, San Antonio, and their surrounding areas, our law firm specializes in personal injury cases including car accidents, 18 wheeler accidents, dog bites, product liability, and more. For more information on how we can help your case, call us today at 713-524-8139 to speak to a professional.