“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” You’ve heard that old saying. And you probably know, like I do, that it is a wise old saying.
I think some lawyer advertising in Georgia, especially some you see on television in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims, creates an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve. You know the ones, where the person is standing in front of a picture of a horribly wrecked car; the person looks great; and she says “This is my car. Lawyer X got me $250,000.00.” and over to the side in small type it comes on the screen ─ just for a second ─ “Fatal injuries.” We aren’t meant to pay attention to that quick disclaimer. The advertisement wants us to see someone who looks great AND got a wallet full of money.
Folks, it just doesn’t work that way, and it shouldn’t.
Almost everyone who comes to see me about representing them in an injury claim tells me that they don’t want anything they don’t deserve. I respect that, and I tell them they will be lucky to get what they do deserve. Contrary to what we hear on TV, juries are not routinely awarding outrageous verdicts to plaintiffs. And insurance companies sure aren’t in the business of giving away money. So whether your personal injury case is settled or taken to trial, recovering what you are entitled to will take a lot of hard work on the part of a lawyer who knows you and your case (See my blog entry “How Much Is Your Personal Injury Case Worth?” to get an idea of all that is involved in valuing your case). Every case is different and must be assessed on its merits.
Hiring the right lawyer from the get go is so important. Considering the lawyer’s advertisements is fine and may be helpful, but you should not make a hiring decision based on that alone. Before you hire a lawyer, talk to her. I tell people when they come in to have their free consultation with me that I don’t assume because they are there that they have decided to hire me, and I haven’t decided until we’ve talked whether I think their case is one I think I can help them with. In my next article in this series, I will talk about what can happen with your case if you do not hire a good lawyer.