As a personal injury attorney in Stuart and Port St. Lucie for the past 22 years, I have seen a recent explosion in TV ads for lawyers in my field. When you see how the biggest advertisers handle their cases, you may want to think twice before you hire one.
Recently, a client hired me after receiving a disturbing letter from one of these high-volume law firms. The letter from her former lawyer demanded she either settle the case or sign a power-of-attorney form authorizing the law firm to settle on her behalf.
The woman wanted to wait because she was very concerned about the cost of future medical care and because she thought that the insurance company offer was too low. Her doctor said she needed surgery immediately, but she wanted to hold off. There was no waiting at the big-advertising-budget law firm. It told her to either have the surgery or take the insurance offer.
With its huge advertising budget, a high-volume law firm does not have the luxury to allow clients to go slow. It must turn over cases quickly, even if it means clients get a smaller settlement. To be clear, I’m not one of those firms. I have a few billboards and take out a small newspaper ad every now and then.
The woman came to my office and asked me if I would allow her to wait. I said of course, I would. I told her the client’s best interests come first; it’s right there in the oath every attorney takes when admitted to the Florida Bar.
A year and a half later, the woman decided to have the surgery and she recovered 10 times what the other law firm insisted she settle for. She was attracted to the law firm with its big-budget advertising and slick ads, but she got the legal advice and justice she deserved from my firm.
In another case, a lady hired me after a heavy-advertising law firm insisted she settle for a small amount because she wouldn’t have surgery. The attorneys told her they wouldn’t file a lawsuit for her unless she had the surgery because it was too expensive for them to try a non-surgical case.
We filed suit for her even though she never had surgery and settled her case for five times the offer that the other firm received. It took longer to get her the money she deserved, but she was more satisfied with the outcome.
Justice can’t be rushed. The next time you see an expensive TV ad for legal help, ask yourself if the firm cares about you or will it rush your case through so it can pay its advertising bill.