It’s a fair question – why wouldn’t you want to go with the volume firms that are currently handling thousands of personal injury cases just like yours? The reason is because you’ll be treated like “Case #837″ out of 1,000.
In the beginning, you’ll be treated like a rock star. Perhaps the firm will even send a fancy ride to pick you up when you call. They’ll be sure to get you to sign a Retainer Agreement so that no other attorney can take your case. Then … silence, as the firm gives priority to cases that they think are worth more money. You may have difficulty reaching your attorney on the phone. If you do reach your attorney on the phone, he or she probably won’t be familiar with your case, since it was passed to the associate attorney or paralegal months ago. That’s where your case will sit for 8 months while better cases come along.
The Statute of Limitations (deadline to file) on many cases is one year from the date of occurrence. When your case gets close to filing, your volume attorney will dust off your file to determine if he or she really wants to work it. If not, you’ll receive a call from an assistant telling you that the firm no longer represents you on the case. Now, you may have difficulty finding another attorney to take your “old” case before the deadline to file. Even worse, he or she might realize that the deadline to file has passed, so you’ll never hear another word from your lawyer. By the time you realize what has happened, he or she may tell you that the firm couldn’t file because you didn’t check in, or some other excuse.
A client recently told me that she had a slip-and-fall case. She fell on an unsafe bathroom floor in a hospital. A nurse even witnessed the event and wrote a statement about how the hospital has repeatedly failed to clean and dry the floor. The woman who fell suffered injuries to her right ankle, right arm, and right shoulder. She had intensive physical therapy for nearly six months. She wasn’t holding out for some huge settlement – she just wanted to get the case into court. Pre-filing negotiations stalled, and her firm lost interest in the case. Eager to get the medical bill collectors to leave her alone, she called her volume attorney and asked, “When are we going to go to court?” The attorney then told her, “We haven’t even filed the case. We don’t want to pursue it anymore, because you weren’t working when the accident occurred. Without the lost profits, it’s not worth us doing the case.”
Now, all of the witnesses were hard to locate. Any photographs of the scene, or investigation would be too old to be of any use. Her credit rating had been ruined by the bill collectors who didn’t know that the medical bills were supposed to be assessed against the negligent hospital.
Why would a firm take a case, if they didn’t want to work it? It happens every day. Some of the volume firms may do great work, but the workload is too heavy to do well on every case, and your case may be the one that falls through the cracks.
Don’t be Case #837 – be my client!