As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer that has been helping accident victims and their families for over 25 years, I wanted to write a blog about something that I have begun hearing more and more of in the past few years. Clients are coming to me stating that they hired a personal injury attorney, they attorney submitted a settlement demand to the insurance company, the settlement offer was either nothing or not a reasonable amount and then they were told, “You’ll have to find another lawyer, we don’t litigate cases.” This is preposterous to me! If an attorney was willing to sign up your case because they believed that the claim had merit, why would they not be willing to file a lawsuit? The answer is simple and it goes back to something I’ve been “harping on” for some time now: There are too many self-proclaimed “personal injury attorneys” in Los Angeles that are simply out to do the least amount of work on each case, get what they can get, and move on to the next case!
What are “settlement mills” and why are they bad for every personal injury victim in Los Angeles?
As I blogged about extensively here, there is a disturbing trend across the United States especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles when it comes to “Personal Injury Law Firms.” The trend is for lawyers to spend big bucks on advertising or use other methods to get a high volume of clients, try to do very little work on the case, try to get a settlement as quickly as possible and then move on to the next case. Why is this their business model? In order to sustain a high volume practice where the majority of the overhead consists of money spent on advertising such as television ads, radio spots or plastering the sides of the freeways with billboards, less money must be spent on the actual pursuit of the claim. For example, if a law firm is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month (which some in L.A. are doing) to get new “sign ups”, how does this leave any resources to be spent on things like attorney and staff salaries, court costs, costs of taking depositions, cost of hiring expert witnesses and other expenses that go into fully prosecuting the claim? The answer is there it doesn’t! From a time standpoint, how is it possible to give each claim enough attention to ensure that the best result happens when you have thousands of files at any given time? The answer is it isn’t!! The business model of the settlement mill, therefore, is to bring in as many cases as possible, try to spend as little money and time as possible to get the case to settlement, get paid quickly and move on to the next case.