A Confident Lawyer is Key if You Want to Maximize Your Case's Value
Many of the qualities one needs to see in his or her lawyer are obvious: intelligent, experienced, loyal. Equally important, though perhaps springing to mind less immediately, is another key characteristic for your lawyer to have: confidence. Confidence to go to court, and to succeed when he gets there. Confidence to speak to a jury effectively. Confidence to invest in an injured person’s case once he takes it on. Confidence that aggressive moves will pay off for the client.
One of the first things an insurance company asks its own lawyer is whether the plaintiff’s lawyer can try a good case. If the defense lawyer answers that the plaintiff’s lawyer is a high volume mill practice, more interested in settling for what he can get than maxing out value for the injured person, the insurance companies immediately reduce the value they otherwise would put on the case.
Think about it: if the insurance company knows the injured person’s lawyer will jump at the chance for a quick settlement, the insurance company has nothing to fear. It can low-ball the plaintiff with impunity. It does not have to worry about what a jury of the injured person’s peers will do with a case in a fair trial, because it knows the plaintiff’s lawyer lacks the confidence to go all the way for his or her client. A confident, experienced trial lawyer, on the other hand, will turn down that low-ball offer from the insurance company in a heartbeat, knowing he or she can get more from a jury. A volume-oriented, fast settlement lawyer will accept that low-ball offer, because ultimately he’s taking what he can get rather than using the jury as the hammer it is meant to be for injured people.
Simply put, the jury is the plaintiff’s greatest source of leverage in a personal injury case. If the other side knows from the beginning that your lawyer lacks confidence to go to the jury, the claim has lost value right from the start. Keep in mind that most cases settle without the necessity of a trial, many without the need even to file suit. We at Traywick & Traywick like a quick resolution as much as the next guy,provided the value is there and that the deal makes sense for the client.
And here is where reputation comes in. Remember: the insurance industry, for whom TLO partner Ben Traywick worked for seven years before deciding to represent real people, knows who your lawyer is. They know his reputation. They know if he’s a TV lawyer. They know whether he tries cases. They know whether he drives a hard bargain for his clients. They know whether his tendency is simply to settle quickly (and cheaply) and move on to the next case. They know whether your lawyer has the confidence to get every last penny for his client.
Confidence to make aggressive moves on your behalf—procedural tactics, use of experts, hard-line negotiation—go hand in hand with the confidence to go to the jury. If as a lawyer one is ready to go all the way for the client, if he has a successful track record with juries, if he knows what the case is worth, then he will not hesitate to make significant investments in the case,
That confidence to invest in your case is critical. As many know, in the contingent fee arrangement on which most plaintiff’s lawyers (including Traywick & Traywick) offer their services, the lawyer advance the expenses of prosecuting the client’s lawsuit. In many instances these expenses are relatively small: a $150 or $200 filing fee, a $25 motion fee, a couple of hundred bucks for a deposition.
But in more complicated cases, the lawyer can face the need to make a far more substantial advance: five thousand dollars for an accident reconstruction expert to confirm that the defendant was the at-fault driver in a car accident or trucking accident case. Three thousand dollars for a vocational specialist, and another two thousand for an economics expert, to ensure that full compensation is secured for clients whose injures have left them with diminished earning capacity for the rest of their lives.
For a lawyer faced with the decision whether to advance this type of cash, confidence is critical. Under the typical contingent fee agreement (including ours) these costs are not recoverable by the lawyer unless the claim is successful. If the lawyer is going to advance three thousand, five thousand, ten thousand dollars, he’s going to need to be confident that these advances—investments, really—are going to pay off. Here’s the kicker: smart spending on expert witnesses like these are critical to truly effective legal representation. Experts drive value in modern personal injury litigation: don’t let anyone tell you different. If your lawyer does not have the confidence to make these advances—if, for example, his model is high volume, quick settlement—then he may well be leaving money on the table, money which a more confident lawyer will go after hard.
So confidence matters. Courtroom experience matters. A willingness to invest aggressively matters.
Your choice of lawyer matters. One of our personal injury lawyers is available to discuss your case–and our firm’s confident, value-driven approach–right now.