You have done a great job building your Personal Injury practice and your caseload is growing. It’s a great place to be, right? Well, maybe. When your firm’s income is based on contingency fees and the settlements that you are receiving from insurance companies are way too low (as they usually are at first) then you may just be spinning your wheels and working harder for a lot less money.
When I talk to my most successful personal injury clients about how to get higher settlement awards, the number one response is always the same: “You have to try more cases!” Insurance companies will very often bluff and make ridiculously low offers just to see how you will handle a given situation. Will you cave and just take what’s on the table or will you play hardball and show that you are willing to go the distance for your client. It takes excellent client management and guts to turn down a cash offer regardless of how unfair it may be. You have to be prepared to discuss options when your client has just been offered several thousand dollars and may be thinking, “a bird in the hand. . . ”, let’s just wrap this up and move on.
The key to winning consistently larger settlements is to show what your firm is made of and go the distance to trial more often. Long term it will mean higher settlements for your client and much more respect for your firm from the insurance companies. These days insurance companies can easily do a verdict search on your firm and find out about your reputation and how willing you are to take an auto accident or other personal injury matter to trial. If insurance companies begin to see you are winning big awards and are willing to go to trial, they will be much less likely to low ball you and your clients.
The way to apply the most pressure and receive the highest settlement offers is to not settle too soon. Begin to prepare for the trial, get it ready for the courtroom, and show that you are in it to win it! It really is like a poker game where you have to show that you are “all in” and willing to go the distance. The fact is that 95-97% of cases get resolved somewhere short of trial but the problem is that you never know which ones will settle and which will ultimately end up in a verdict at trial. The key is that you absolutely have to be ready, and appear to the insurance companies that you are committed to a trial if it becomes necessary.
Helping the plaintiff be patient is absolutely crucial since many people don’t realize the severity of their situation and a small sum of money offered by an insurance company can seem very tempting when the injured party is in a weakened state after an auto accident. As the statistics suggest, it is likely a settlement can be reached but if the plaintiff is not counseled properly they may simply jump at the first offer which is not good for them or your firm.
Remember why you got into Personal Injury law in the first place, hopefully it’s to fight for your client’s legal right to the maximum award allowable by law. Showing that you are willing to do battle and take cases to trial will have a major, positive effect on how strong you are perceived by potential new clients as well as the insurance companies.