Why Do Lawyers Work So Slowly?
Despite Marge Simpson’s insistence to the contrary, we all know that slow and steady usually doesn’t win the race. Therefore, many people wonder why it’s taking so long for lawyers to agree on a settlement in their personal injury cases.
After all, when buyers and sellers haggle about the price of a used sofa, they usually reach an agreement in a few minutes. Yet when these negotiations occur in a personal injury case, they often take a few months, at the minimum.
Unfortunately, in a few cases, lawyers work slowly because they don’t pay attention to a case. Age-old excuses, like being overworked and understaffed, explain much of this delay. However, they only go so far.
Delay is frustrating for everyone. In most cases, though, delay is a necessary part of the process. Fundamentally, many people question the efforts of a Los Angeles personal injury attorney because they don’t trust the lawyer to do what’s right. Experienced attorneys who are dedicated to the practice of personal injury law almost never let you down.
Ongoing Medical Treatment
Injury treatment is usually a long process. Whiplash, a common car accident injury, is a good example.
Early symptoms of this head/neck injury, like soreness and disorientation, mimic shock symptoms. As a result, many victims don’t get the treatment they need when they need it. So, instead of improving, their physical conditions deteriorate. If not promptly and properly treated, whiplash could cause paralysis.
Broken bones, a common fall injury, are another example. Usually, falls are so bad that victims shatter their bones. So, doctors must use highly invasive tactics, like metal implants, to reconstruct these bones. Additional invasive surgery causes recovery issues. Physical therapy lasts a lot longer in these situations. Additionally, these broken bone victims usually experience some permanent loss of use, like frozen shoulder (lost range of motion in the joint).
Advanced medical treatment in such cases usually means future medical expenses and/or future pain and suffering. Unless a settlement fully accounts for such items, the victim may be financially responsible for future costs, and the victim may get nothing for future emotional distress. Therefore, meaningful settlement negotiations cannot start until medical treatment is at least substantially complete.
Best Evidence Unavailable
In the wake of an injury, only basic evidence, like the police accident report, is usually available. Such evidence may be strong enough to establish a bare-bones negligence claim. Victim/plaintiffs must only establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. However, a minimal amount of evidence is usually enough to obtain minimal compensation. Most injury victims aren’t willing to settle for the minimum.
Moreover, bare bones evidence usually isn’t enough to refute some common insurance company defenses, like comparative fault and assumption of the risk. In many cases, these defenses could torpedo damage claims, meaning that the victim filed suit for nothing.
The best evidence, like electronic evidence in a car crash claim, usually surfaces during discovery. This lawsuit stage happens well after a victim/plaintiff files legal paperwork and the insurance company files procedural motions.
Patience usually pays off. Once the best evidence is available, a claim’s settlement value usually increases. Even the most stubborn insurance company lawyers typically face the fact that they cannot win the case, so they’re willing to make a deal.
Time Is On My Side
Late-stage evidence isn’t the only thing that drives up a settlement value. The calendar matters as well. The closer the trial date is, the more motivated an insurance company is to settle.
Additionally, if cases remain unresolved late in the game, most SoCal judges refer such matters to mediation. During mediation, insurance company delay tactics, like low-ball offers, are illegal. Both sides have a duty to negotiate in good faith. They must be willing to compromise, if that’s what it takes to cut a deal.
Since discovery has already occurred and the best evidence is available, the insurance company is usually the party that must compromise the most. In other words, thanks to mediation, victims don’t have to accept a second-rate offer an insurance company made earlier. Once again, patience pays off.Injury victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. Lawyers can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.
Image Credit: Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash
Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.