Jul 1, 2010

Self service gas stations are great and have effectively brought to extinction the full service gas station. Fundamentally, the reason why people like self serve gas is that it's cheaper than full service. It requires no specialized training or knowledge. Essentially anyone can pump gas.

Law firms often secretly adopt this idea of self service when dealing with injury clients. They want to resolve the part of your case that they feel makes them money, and delegate to you the responsibilities of doing most everything else. But, unlike self service gas there is nothing in bright lights telling you that you are entering the world of self service. There is nothing cheaper about self service law practice. They expect you to pay a contingency (percentage of recovery) just like clients in a full service firms. But, watch out, because the differences could cost you!

In a motor vehicle accident, a lawyer looking to shirk responsibility will not want to take on the responsibility of assuring that MedPay is properly paying for a client's care. They will try and delegate any involvement with the repair or totaling of the vehicle. They will not want to handle anything related to assuring you having a paid for rental car during the initial stages before the vehicle is repaired. They will want to pass the responsibility off onto you to coordinate medical care. They will say things like, "well once you tell me that you aren't treating anymore..." And once the case settles, the lawyer looking to make his client do the leg work will offer little if any help to resolve outstanding medical liens or other obligations. In fact, once the case settles, you will likely never hear from the lawyer again.

Each of these shirked responsibilities means you are left holding the bag. It also means you will be navigating uncharted waters and invariably you will make mistakes and end up with less than you should. The bottom line is that self service law is unquestionably a bad deal for clients.

The problem arises is when you think you are being represented by a full service law firm only to suddenly one day realize that you are in the self service lane. In your first meeting with the person you are considering hiring as your lawyer, the last thing he will ever admit to is that he plans on self serving you. So, the trick to selecting your lawyer is to watch for signs before you commit to letting that guy to represent you.


A) If the lawyer has you meet with his secretary:
When a lawyer has you meet with his secretary more than anything wants you to know how involved he wants you to be in communicating with her, is a bad sign of things to come. It projects non-interest in the details.

This is likely a lawyer looking to do very little in the way of heavy lifting in your case. You will find yourself doing your own leg-work and developing a relationship with your lawyer's voicemail and of course his secretary.

B) If you arrive expecting to meet the lawyer and instead you meet with his secretary:
Now this is a really bad sign. This lawyer is too busy, lazy, or uninterested in you to even fake interest in your case. I suggest you had better really like the secretary a lot because she is going to be your only real lawyer.

C) If your lawyer meets with you and asks nothing about your car damage, your doctors and how your medical bills are being paid:
These are the heavy lifting questions. Without an understanding of these details, it is crystal clear this lawyer is looking for a quick pay day and expects to be gone long before the dust settles.

D) If your lawyer requires you to obtain your medical records and police report:
I hear about this a lot. Nothing says "self service" like not securing for himself the essential documents of the case. Believe me if he is sending you to get these, you can rest assured the only thing he will be motivated to obtain through his own efforts is your settlement check from the insurance company.

The bottom line is that no one should expect to receive full service and pay a contingency for full service and yet be duped into self service. Watch for signs and ask lots of questions. If at some point you realize that you are in the self service lane and you would really rather be in the full service lane, call us and we can help you make that transition.

At Anderson Hemmat, we believe in only offering the highest quality full service to our clients. We understand that there is a lot more to your case than just gathering the settlement check at the end of the day. With that understanding we look forward to working with you on your case. Please call us today if you are want this attention to detail and full service on your case.


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