Serious Injuries Led To 2.75 Million Settlement ONLY After Firing Big Injury Law Firm!
My partner & I recently settled a tractor trailer & car accident case for 2.75 million, after a couple of years of work. There were several lessons that you could learn from this case.
Why Our Client Called Us After Hiring One Of The Big Injury Firms
First, our client came to us from a gigantic law firm. Not surprisingly, they had been ignoring his case since he hired them. He came to us in the nick of time because he believed that he wasn’t getting the attention that he needed, in light of the seriousness of the accident and his injuries.
I can’t share a lot of details because of various rules with which Orlando personal injury lawyers must comply. But our client’s injury was extremely serious although not the most catastrophic. He can still walk, talk, eat his food, etc. He doesn’t need constant medical attention. But he has lost an important bodily function.
Most Important Things Needed To Get The Most Money From A Serious Injury & Accident Case
I’ve said in many blogs that the at fault driver must have enough insurance coverage to match your injuries (which, in tractor trailer or commercial truck cases, they usually do; individual drivers in regular cars or trucks tend to have less coverage although sometimes still enough to be worth pursuing).
And I’ve explained that there must be some reasonable argument that the other driver did something wrong. You can share fault (we call this “comparative negligence.”) But you can’t be 100% at fault for the accident and still recover money.
However, I rarely discuss probably the most important factor in getting the most money from your case — and that’s which Florida truck accident law firm you hire. I know that sounds entirely self-serving but keep reading. Because it’s true. And this case proves the point very well.
Huge Mistakes By Big Law Firm Almost Cost Our Client His Entire Case Value
In this case, our client hired a huge law firm soon after his accident. It didn’t take him long for him to realize that his assigned lawyer, from the hundreds who worked at this firm, didn’t seem to be doing much work on his case, or giving him any guidance. So he called us, thankfully for him. If he had waited even a few weeks longer, his case would have settled for FAR less. And if he had called us from the beginning, his case might have settled for far more money.
You see, in a serious injury case with a lot of available insurance money (like a tractor-trailer case), MANY things need to happen QUICKLY to secure evidence that is NECESSARY to prove your case. Unfortunately, as I have discussed before, big law firms are settlement mill firms, and a comprehensive study at Stanford University a few years ago proved that the biggest injury law firms, by design, simply do not have enough lawyers per client.
You really should read those links above and the Stanford study if you are even remotely considering hiring a big firm for a serious injury case. I never, ever would. If you don’t call us — call another small firm where the lawyers and staff seem good. How they make you feel is a good indicator of how they will make a jury feel.
Why Do Big Injury Firms Have Billboards With Huge Dollar Amounts?
You might wonder how, if the bigger firms don’t have enough lawyers per client, they manage to get many high settlements, if you believe the big numbers on billboards all over Florida (and I have no reason to doubt those). And here’s the answer — the biggest law firms receive THOUSANDS of calls. They literally have floors of people answering phones in call centers, trained in high pressure sales (not law). Is that the law firm you want to hire? They say that they have more resources and lawyers. Ha. What a joke. We have all the resources we would ever need to fight the biggest of cases. Moreover, they certainly do not bring all of their resources to the table when handling an individual case. On average, I would bet all of my personal assets that they do not spend more than we spend per case (my guess would be far less because we do more work — as shown below). And all of the lawyers from those firms would not be working on your case. You would be assigned ONE highly over-worked lawyer who would most likely have hundreds of other clients. And those lawyers have varying credentials but certainly aren’t “the best.”
Hand to God, if I were injured in another state, and needed to hire a lawyer, the absolute LAST thing I would ever consider is hiring one of the bigger injury law firms. If you want to be treated like cattle, or goods on an assembly line, that’s your decision. But I do not refer cases to those firms, I would never hire one, and I would strongly advise friends and family against hiring any big personal injury law firm.
Anyway, some percentage of the thousands of monthly calls to the biggest injury law firms involve serious or catastrophic injuries. Some of those cases settle without a lot of work. More importantly, even if they do not maximize the value of every case, they still make a ton of money.
In the case we just settled — our client received 2.75 million (from which fees, costs and medical care was deducted before they received the balance). But, if X giant law firm had not screwed around in the beginning, then our client could have received much more. So we achieved what sounds like an impressive settlement except there was a huge attorney error that happened before we were hired — meaning even a high number could be much higher, if handled by the right lawyer from the beginning.
In short, with personal injury law firms, bigger definitely doesn’t mean better.
How We Saved The Day For Our Client’s Case Value
Back to our client.
Once he hired us, we QUICKLY had to make sure we purchased his damaged car! The other big law firm had done NOTHING to make that happen. And his car was ESSENTIAL evidence in our case. We contacted the tow truck company, and arranged to pay for the vehicle, then moved it into storage, at our expense for the duration of the case. The tow truck company was in the process of selling the car because they had not been paid (we estimate a few weeks more and the car — absolutely essential to the case — would have been destroyed).
Purchasing a wrecked car might seem like a simple step in the case. And it was. But not having the car would have been devastating to his case. And the other big law firm was not getting that done.
If we had not purchased that vehicle, then the jury would have been instructed that they needed to presume that any evidence related to the car would have been negative for the plaintiff. You see, it was the plaintiff’s attorney’s JOB to secure that evidence. If you don’t secure evidence, and then the defense is unable to examine things like the seat belt, the nature of the impact to the vehicle, or the interior showing the type of damage plaintiff’s body might have sustained. As a result, they can absolutely ask the judge to tell the jury that they need to assume that the evidence would have been detrimental to the plaintiff. For example, if the defense were able to examine the vehicle, then their accident reconstruction expert might discover that the plaintiff’s version of how his car was impacted wasn’t true. There are HUGE battles in serious injury cases about how the crash happened, who caused the accident, and the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. So the defense is entitled to inspect the car. And it’s the plaintiff’s attorney’s job to make sure they can. If they can’t, then the court tells the jury to assume that anything the defendant could have theoretically proven if they had inspected the vehicle — would have been favorable to the defense.
But that wasn’t all this big law firm failed to do!
Another Gigantic Mistake Made By The Big Injury Law Firm Before Our Client Hired Us Instead
The big injury law firm also — critically — did not notify the trucking company that they need to preserve the trailer from the tractor-trailer. This gets complicated but the law only requires parties in auto accident litigation to preserve evidence when they are given NOTICE that they need to preserve the evidence. In other words, the prior big injury law firm needed to send a letter to the trucking company saying “do not destroy or change the trailer before we inspect it.” That’s called a spoliation of evidence letter. Again — not complicated — but critical and urgent.
Unfortunately for our client, prior big injury law firm never sent that critical letter.
So, before we were hired, the tractor trailer company repaired the trailer and put it back into service. That meant that we were unable to inspect the trailer — which absolutely might have led to evidence that would have helped our accident reconstruction expert prove that the driver of the trailer did more things wrong. (Remember, even though we settled for 2.75 million — that number could have been higher — and having more evidence that the tractor-trailer driver was at fault would have increased that number.) And there was no penalty to the defense (like the jury instruction I mentioned above) because, to get that jury instruction, you have to send the “do not destroy evidence” letter BEFORE they get rid of the evidence.
That means time is critical after any serious accident case!!! Especially a commercial or semi-truck accident case — where vehicles get repaired and put back on the road. But really ANY serious auto accident case WITH a lot of insurance money needs extensive investigation and action QUICKLY after the accident. Sometimes we can still do well if we are hired later, like in this case. But we usually can get the most money if we are hired immediately after a serious accident.
One More (Sad) Fact That Could Have Doubled Our Client’s Settlement
Another interesting but sad fact about this case. Our client wasn’t wearing a seat belt. We estimate that the case would have settled for approximately double what we recovered if he had been wearing his seat belt. That kind of evidence hurts. And we hire experts who can usually determine if the seat belt was engaged, in serious accident cases with a large insurance policy at stake. So always buckle up!!
If You Were Involved In An Accident With Serious Injuries, Please Do Not Hesitate To Call Or Text ASAP
If you have received serious or catastrophic injuries from a car or truck accident (or if you lost a loved one and are pursuing a Florida wrongful death lawsuit), then please call us as soon as you can after the accident. Text or call anytime (407) 803-2139. We have an answering service 24/7/365 — and attorneys who review all new call information ASAP. You pay nothing unless we win. And we would be glad to further explain what we might do in your specific case, if you give us a call or send a text. (If you text, it’s helpful to give some details about your accident, WHEN and how it happened, what type of vehicle the defendant was driving (especially if a semi, tractor trailer, or commercial truck), defendant’s insurance information if you know it, what injuries you sustained, what treatment you’ve received or plan to receive, and any photos of the vehicles or your injuries).
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