Twenty years ago, a prospective client would often ask me if I was up to the task of trying their case. Perhaps it was my youth or lack of gray hair. I rarely get asked that question now, but it's not because I am a lot older and have a head full of gray hair. No, it's because folks have been conditioned to the idea that they don't want a lawyer that is willing to try their case. They want the lawyer that will settle their case … for big bucks … in less than a month … just like those billboard and tv ads promise.
Though I wish it was true – it's not – at least if you are talking about settling a case for its true value. A settlement can be great, it can be fair or it can be unfairly low. Remember – THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IS IN THE BUSINESS OF GETTING SUED. It's what they do seven days a week. When you do something every day, you get good at it. When the adjuster tells you "don't hire a lawyer," it is because they believe it will be to their financial advantage to do so. When the adjuster pushes you toward a quick settlement, it is because they believe it will be to their financial advantage to do so.
What you want is a lawyer that will settle your case for fair value and try if that can't be done. If you want to settle it for fair value, you sure have that right. But you should know what you are doing. How do you do that? You do it by hiring the right lawyer. How do you do that? Today, there is so much more that one can do than just ask questions. Throw your lawyer's name in a search engine. See what her website says. Ask others who have had to hire lawyers. And if you don't want to get shortchanged, hire a lawyer who is not afraid to try your case if that is what you decide that you want to do.
Cum Laude graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Pet Mackey is a civil trial litigation expert who represents plaintiffs in business and consumer tort, contracts and construction, employment disputes and insurance. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Certified Alabama Mediator, and an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.