Beware of Tips Which Hurt Not Help

Everyone has an opinion. Nothing wrong with that, and as matter of fact, something I encourage among everyone. The reader should consider what is being suggested and then consider other options or points of view.

As applied to personal injury claims, there seem to be all types of suggestions on what to do and what mistakes to avoid. All opinions offered as suggestions or tips, however, should be scrutinized before relying on them. This includes any suggestions or random thoughts provided here.

Some Personal Injury Claim Tips Are Not Helpful

The reason I suggest thoughtfully considering any tip—whether provided by an experienced lawyer or some self-styled guru—is because some recommendations may not help your circumstances or cause.

For example, there are some lawyers who suggest that immediately after an accident causing injury—whether auto accident, slip and fall, construction mishap, or other event caused by negligence—suggest the injury victim start the claims process.

  • Call a lawyer from the scene;
  • Take photographs at the scene;
  • Video record the accident scene;
  • Interview witnesses.

The desire is to document what happened and identify witnesses who may help explain the incident. This is a noble goal.

At first blush, some of these suggestions sound reasonable—with the exception of contacting an injury attorney from any accident scene which I believe is a horrible idea—and have a goal in mind of preserving and strengthening a possible injury claim. There are some unintended consequences, however, which should be considered as they can negatively impact the claim.

If you have been seriously injured in a car wreck or fall down, then how do you start identifying witnesses and obtaining their information? How do you start taking photos? You may take these steps—you are not prohibited from doing so—but how does that look?

The perception this type of post-accident activity can generate may affect your credibility. The circumstances are critical here. Someone with a broken arm or leg may be conscious and be able to take photos. This person may be able to talk to witnesses who approach him or her asking to help. Perhaps exchanging cell phone numbers can be quickly done so as to identify the witnesses.

Roaming around the crash scene or store where the fall accident occurred—calling an injury lawyer, taking photos, taking video, or questioning witnesses and taking notes—may document the incident, but destroy the viability of the injury claim itself.

Common Sense and Reasonable Judgment are Critical

After any severe injury, the first priority is health. In my experience, genuinely hurt people and their families are focused squarely on their injuries and getting better before they start thinking about accountability.

How the accident occurred, what the at fault driver or company did wrong, and who will pay your bills are likely expected by your peers—jurors—to be part of the post-accident investigation after your health is being addressed at hospital.

Perception—right or wrong—often plays a large part in valid personal injury claims. Insurance companies are looking for reasons to deny or fight a legitimate accident injury claim. Insurance adjusters want to minimize the amount of money they pay you. Do not give insurance carriers any grounds to question your genuine injuries and value. Knowing that you conducted a comprehensive investigation at the scene of your accident may provide an insurance corporation with the narrative—the misconception—they need to fight the true value of your claim.

The bottom line is that everyone should be careful about what injury lawyer tips, suggestions, and recommendations they heed. Think about that content critically and try to place it in context of the circumstances. In my opinion, the better road to follow is to be yourself and practice common sense. Do what what you believe is right under the circumstances.

Lawyer Tips on Accidents May Miss the Mark

Every accident presents different circumstances. Auto accidents are governed by different facts and law from premises liability claims from other negligence claims. Each of these situations has different needs in terms of re-constructing what happened and the reasons for the occurrence. Some facts are simple to piece together while many others are more intricate and complex.

Directing someone on how to react after a crash or fall is not appropriate. There is no one-size-fits-all response from the victim which is always correct or always incorrect. Accidents are too fluid, victims are really hurt, and reality prevents any tip or suggestion from applying across-the-board.

Staying calm, cool, and collected and using your best judgment to keep yourself and family safe are rules of thumb. As a tragedy unfolds, keeping it together is easier said than done. That is reality.

Perhaps there is a single thing—just one—anyone can do in any accident injury scenario. No memorization is needed. No tricks or tactics.

Instead, just be yourself. This will happen naturally, and takes no coaching. Genuineness requires no assistance. How you react to the event will depend on, and vary by, the incident. As your lawyer, I will deal with those faultless and genuine circumstances.

Staying Positive and Hopeful in Your Injury Claim

Every plaintiff in a personal injury claim faces burdens and hardship. This is part of life as well as the claims process.

There is no dispute that you did not ask to be hurt. You did not ask for your life to be interrupted, or put on hold, regardless of how many times the at-fault insurance carrier dismisses your damages and needs.

Showing Hope is not Easy When Facing Insurance Companies

Remaining hopeful while in severe pain—in the face of the indifference and mocking attitudes often expressed by insurance companies—can be a genuine challenge. Sometimes, we are moved from the inside to want to express our anger, disgust, and frustration with the games being played by those responsible for our hardship.

This is what insurance companies want. Providing them with just a snippet of your distress can provide them with how they seek to define you. While you may be an optimist and demonstrably happy person, suffering can often diminish that side of you. Just a momentary lapse of giving voice to your anger can have lingering effects.

You may be the victim but that does not mean you should act like one. Why fight the facts of your injury case when they can make the claim about you?

We all may have an undesirable side, or an ugly side, to our personality. While typically dormant, this unflattering dimension could be provoked into saying something or acting in a manner which is inconsistent with the real person inside.

Instead of feeling as though the walls are caving in because you have been through so much and you feel as though there is no end in sight, just take a moment of quiet. Reflect on what happened and how far you have come. There may be a long road ahead, but chances are you are considerably father along then you though possible at this point in time.

Allow that to sink in deep. Resume who you are once again.

Do Not Give In or Give Up

Staying positive shows who you really are inside. Coping with the pain and hardship is challenging, and there are certainly days when it is difficult to find the positive side of the obstacles you face.

Staying hopeful is critical, however, not just for your sense of self and moving forward, but in maximizing your potential compensation. Juries tend to favor likeable people who—despite long odds and a difficult journey ahead—do not give up. Jurors want to help people who are trying to help themselves. Jurors want to extend their hand and help those whom they believe will benefit from the compensation and use that money constructively in the future.

Part of the rationale is that pretty much everyone has encountered a particular hardship or struggle in his or her life. Some are huge by objective standards and others small in comparison.

Each person, however, has faced some challenge at some point in his or her life. Each person has frustrated in trying to overcome that obstacle. Every person would have welcomed help from some source to have made the process earlier.

Jurors are people too. They have have this same universal desire to help others who are seeking to overcome hurdles programmed into their minds—just like that sense is in your mind—but has to be activated. In order to tap into that sense, however, you have to be worthy.

You earn a great level of this credibility by showing hope. You do not give up despite the burdens you face, do not give in to your frustration and anger—no matter how justified and righteous those emotions may be—but instead, show only your hope and positivity.

Staying Positive in the Face of Adversity Helps Resolve Personal Injury Claims

As discussed, jurors invest in winners. You are a winner by being true to yourself and flowing with the positive stream despite your harms, hardship, and losses. This often puts the insurance company defending the claim in a very bad position.

Without a victim mentality to highlight or bash, the insurance company must focus on combating the facts of the claim. This is not where the insurance adjuster or carrier wants to be as the company tries to defend the claim.

The circumstances and the law are certainly important factors to favorable resolution of your personal injury claim. In my experience, personal injury plaintiffs who remain themselves—continuing to demonstrate hope and positivity as they move forward to accomplish their goals and overcome hardships—will enhance their claims and benefit from their dispositions.

Fight Insurance Company Bullies

Insurance companies are often bullies. They are multi-billion dollar corporations which like to throw their weight around. Their weakness, of course, is money. They will pay handsomely to avoid paying more.

The need to, “avoid paying more” has to be a reasonable likelihood in the universal sense—a realistic proposition in everyone’s minds—and not just your perception of the facts. After all, this is a business decision for the casualty carrier. Managing the risk created by your personal injury claim has to make financial sense insofar as paying you full value appears to be a wise business decision.

How do you help yourself overcome the insurance corporation bullying? Let’s review a couple important lessons you need to know.

Insurance Companies Like Fighting in the Alternative Universe

Many of these ideas are conjured up by the insurance company and defense attorneys who stand with the at fault party. These strategies tend to focus on anything which shifts the focus away from the facts of the claim to instead portraying the plaintiff in a false and negative light.

Many of these tactics target the personal injury plaintiff’s past medical history—suggesting that coincidence predominates probability. Perhaps the most common strategy, however, is the insurance carrier highlighting the smallest and narrowest of inconsistencies—especially the art of taking isolated statements and word fragments and casting them out of context to manufacture an inconsistency out of whole cloth—and making this scheme the focus of the defense.

There are several different ways to sink your personal injury claim—regardless of how legitimate your harms and losses may be—despite the evidence of the wrongdoer being clearly at fault for your damages. Critical to dismantling the defense is simply not enabling them. Starve the beast, so to speak, and it will succumb.

If left alone, this alternate world created from an orchestrated perception can become your reality. As your attorney, I will deal with this nonsense directly and fight these tactics head-on. Shining the light of truth on the games being played is a powerful tool.

As the client, you should not be giving the defense fodder by wasting time or shopping for doctors picked by your lawyer.

Send the Right Message From Day One

Different types of serious bodily injuries require different levels of treatment. In turn, these forms of treatment have different planning, performance, and recovery timelines. You and your doctors—physicians whom you selected on your own—should be in charge of your care and how it plays out.

While your attorney needs to know your medical status, your current treatment, and and future treatment plan and medical needs, your lawyer should not be directing your approach. You should be living your life as you would in the absence of a personal injury claim. You are the patient and in charge of your medical needs and consult doctors and other health care providers to direct, oversee, and provide your care.

This natural flow is coordinated by you and your physicians. You must live your real life in real time. You should not try to create an alternate you, which lives in the same alternate universe the insurance company has created to shield itself from paying full compensation You will lose the battle here, as this is the insurance company’s domain.

What is Best for Your Health is Best for Your Injury Claim

If and when you start thinking, “what is best for my case,” instead of “what is best for my health now and in the future,” then you are going down the wrong path. You are headed into being fake instead of genuine.

In my experience and view, you are damaging—or even losing— your case effective immediately when you go down this road. While some attorneys will be all too happy to oblige your thoughts and coordinate everything for you, my suggestion is run away from such firms.

The reason is that you are heading exactly where the insurance company wants you to go. The insurance carrier would much rather deal with the “fake you” or “lawyer-choreographed you” than the real you. Insurance carriers have created the modern-day gamesmanship which can consume personal injury and wrongful death claims, and they are the best at it when you provide them the arms and ammunition. So, don’t provide them the resources to take you down.

What gives bullies life, besides their size, is their knowledge of the environment they operate in, and understanding their target. Bullies typically know the rules, what they can get away with with, what buttons to push to inflict maximum damage, and will cross the line as often as they believe they can do so without consequence. A bully who is disarmed, detached from their manufactured environment, and trying to fight in your world—the real world—will succumb, or surrender. Honest brokering takes hold.

Defeat the Insurance Bully by Being Real

Insurance bullies may be big, but they also fall big, and critically, can be persuaded avoid the fight by making a sound business decision by paying full compensation to avoid paying more. The best battles are those which are won without ever being fought. Insurance carriers who recognize this and do what is right when shown the light deserve credit for the detente.

If you want to fight insurance company bullies and win, then you have to do so with credibility. I fight insurance companies every day, and as your personal injury attorney or wrongful death lawyer, I strive to accomplish your objectives and goals using reality and truth. Whether the battle must take place, or is planned but avoided, will depend on your circumstances. In every instance, however, I pursue justice with your best interests at the heart of the claim.

Know Your Personal Injury Attorney

Legal services and lawyering are meant to be personal, and in my experience, the best results and client satisfaction occur when the client knows his or her lawyer. In my view, this is particularly true for personal injury lawyer and client.

The gulf between lawyer and client in personal injury claims has appeared to widen over the last many years. Too often, prospective clients—consumers of legal services—have to come to because they simply did not know who their attorney was, what he or she was doing, and received all of their information through assistants. Unfortunately, law firms of ll sizes have increasingly used the practice of putting assistants between attorneys and clients.

Do You Know Your Injury Lawyer?

In this day and age, clients who have suffered serious injuries have a choice about the attorney whom they retain to represent their interests. That choice should be exercised with care and attention.

When choosing, you the consumer look for a personal injury attorney with the depth and breadth of experience you believe is best for your claim. That may be a great starting point. What should not be lost, however, is determining whether that lawyer will be actively engaged with you. Very often, a profile looks good on paper but not in person.

The positive indicators—and most certainly the warning signs—start with the first consultation.

  • Have you met your lawyer in person?
  • Can you get along with this advocate?
  • Do you have any rapport?
  • Will this lawyer be someone you can truly confide in?
  • Are you confident he or she understands your hardships and burdens on a more personal level?
  • Does the lawyer personally return phone calls?
  • Is the attorney responsive?
  • Is the attorney available for you?
  • Will you even be a part of your own team?

These traits can be evaluated during the initial consultation or meeting. If your first consultation or meeting is with someone other than the lawyer who will represent you, then how will you have any idea on how he or she plans to pursue justice for you? If the lawyer is too busy to meet with you now, then a big red flag should be raised in your mind.

Think about this: if the lawyer you are considering to hire claims to be too busy for you now, then how do you think he or she will act when you have hired them? Does this seem like someone who will be available for you later?

Good News and Bad News Should be Openly Communicated

No lawyer should play hide and seek with a client under any circumstances. Lawyers should not avoid clients.

The lawyer is hired to do a job, provide a service, which is advocacy and representing the client’s best interests. When the client has been injured by negligence or wrongdoing, then the injured client needs that experienced legal help more than ever.

When difficult choices have to be made, and options are limited, communication between attorney and client are critical to optimizing the circumstances. Unfortunately, there are instances where the lawyer chooses not to be engaged directly with the client, and uses assistants as messengers. Details can be lost in these important moments, and in my opinion, the attorney is not providing the service he or she was hired to perform.

Sometimes, the lawyer has legal advice the client may not want to hear. The lawyer must deliver the news when it is good, bad, or in-between, and should not shrink from that duty. This means telling the client directly what is happening and why. This means explaining options and alternatives. This means discussing pros and cons of pursuing different avenues in the law.

From tactics to settlement to trial to verdict, the client should be an active participant in the representation. There may be injuries of a catastrophic nature which prevent the client’s involvement, but there are husbands, wives, children and others who know the client and can provide a wealth of valuable information and ideas.

You Should Know Your Personal Injury Lawyer and Your Attorney Should Know You

Legal services are driven by knowledge. There is no substitute for a having an open and honest, responsive, and accessible relationship with your personal injury attorney. Just the same, your lawyer should know you and be just as candid in his or her representation.

Drive and determination for justice do not happen in a vacuum—telling an injury client’s story of loss and hardship, burden and challenge, goals and hope—takes more than reading a memorandum written by an assistant who interviewed the client. Knowing the client is critical, and there is no substitute for direct and personal communication.

Open communication serves the client, the attorney, and ultimately, the ends of justice. Sit down face-to-face with any lawyer you plan to hire and get to know that counselor. Do this before signing any lawyer paperwork or fee agreement. Ask questions. Have those questions answered. If your lawyer wants to know you, then he or she will make that effort in the first phone call or meeting.

When you are confident that your lawyer is open, honest, accessible, and responsive, should you proceed to next steps. You will see that knowing your personal injury attorney can often be the critical first step toward securing justice.

Distracted Driving

Driving does take some level of skill and coordination of senses.  When these is an interruption of attention and focus caused by the driver’s own distraction, or an outside force, then a car crash in Southwest Florida is likely to occur.

This is distracted driving, and it causes big auto crashes and severe injuries to innocent people. Examples of distracted driving involve use of cell phone and driving as well as texting and driving. In other instances, however, the distraction may include tuning the radio, staring at the GPS navigation, or fumbling with food or drink.

In other words, distracted driving is the moment in which the driver’s eyes leave their focus on the road and traffic to other activities.

Liability for Talking on Cell Phone and Driving

Talking on a cell phone can be distracting. The driver’s focus is on the conversation, even if the motorist’s eyes are on the road.  One hand on the cell phone means one hand on the wheel. This leads to a lack of agility in responding to immediate traffic conditions.

Additionally, the driver is focused on hearing the cell phone discussion, thereby tuning out the audio of traffic. Paying attention to audible clues as to other vehicle movements can be critical in maintaining proper focus of traffic developments. Talking on the cell phone and driving can deprive the driver of this needed hearing sense.

Cell phone use while driving often leads to traffic collisions. In Southwest Florida, many serious accident injuries caused in a car accident were preventable if only the driver had paid attention instead of talked on the phone while driving.

Liability for Texting and Driving

Texting and driving is perhaps the most extreme instance of distracted driving. The driver is actively taking eyes off the road and surrounding vehicles to look at a text message. Engaging in this activity not only requires visual attention, but separate manual attention, regardless of whether the driver is sending or receiving a text message.

Composing a text message or scrolling through a received message, requires the motorist to look at the phone, pad, or tablet. Attention on the road is lost. Critical attention to speed and control of the motor vehicle is also lost.

No driver can text and drive without placing themselves and others at substantial risk of injury or death. No matter how smart or agile, no matter age or energy level, every time a driver texts and drives, attention to the road and visual focus is lost.

Pursuing Justice and Money Damages in Distracted Driving Auto Crashes

Distracted drivers are a menace. These reckless drivers risk life and limb—not just their own, but of their passengers, other drivers and passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and others—and cause numerous car accidents. At-fault drivers  who caused a crash because they were focused on their phone, pad, or device deserve to be held liable for their actions.

At Harris Law, justice is sought for clients who are injured by distracted drivers. Accident attorney Fort Myers David Harris is an experienced personal injury lawyer and litigator who pursues maximum compensation for clients. Justice matters, and that is what David seeks for every client.

In distracted driving accident injury claims, you may be eligible for compensation and additional money damages—known as punitive damages—for your harms and losses. Compensation includes money for pain and suffering, medical expenses, insurance reimbursement, and lost work.  Punitive damages is money designed to punish the at fault driver who was reckless.

David seeks full money damages for your circumstances.

Fort Myers Accident Attorney Serves Southwest Florida

You do not have to drive difficult and challenging road alone, or hire a lawyer outside Southwest Florida. Attorney David Harris values clients, which is why every client has access to David by phone, email, or text, and you the client have your phone calls answered and returned promptly. David answers your questions and values yur input, so you remain involved in your claim.

David represents accident victims throughout SW Fla., including Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Port Charlotte, Ft Myers Beach, Sanibel, Estero, Lehigh Acres, Punta Gorda, Naples, Immokalee, Golden Gate, Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, LaBelle, North Port, Venice, Englewood, and the other communities of Lee County, Charlotte County, Hendry County, and Sarasota County.

Call David for for a free and personal consultation regarding your circumstances and discuss how he may help.

Find Your Own Doctor After Your Injury

After a serious personal injury, the victim may have initially visited the hospital emergency room by ambulance. Perhaps the patient was admitted for surgery or other procedures. Eventually, the patient is discharged from the hospital with instructions to follow up with a physician.

The instructions—written by the emergency physician or a physician assistant—often name the patient’s family doctor, the attending physician for the hospital admission,  or actually provides a different specialist’s contact information.

The purpose is to get the patient to seek follow up by another doctor outside the hospital. Depending on the injuries and other circumstances, the patient may decide to seek an office visit with a different doctor than the physician listed by the discharge paperwork. Your lawyer should not be the one making your arrangements for you.

You Are Your Own Best Advocate in Seeking the Health Care You Need

If your personal injury was caused by negligence of another—auto crash, motorcycle accident, truck accident, slip and fall, construction injury, and similar incidents often caused by at fault parties—then you may seek a lawyer to represent your interests. The ethical lawyer will be seeking to hold the at-fault person or business  accountable for their actions, and in that regard, seeking compensation for your injuries.

The fact that you have retained counsel to recover money compensation for all that you have been through is entirely appropriate. The lawyer should be using his or her best efforts to maximize the compensation which you deserve through knowing your injuries, hardships, hopes, and needs. This is principled advocacy.

What should not be a part of the lawyer’s focus and effort is directing your medical care in any manner. That is for you and your health professionals to decide. As the personal injury lawyer representing a client, I want the client to find a qualified doctor whom the client trusts, and proceed with the treatment which that patient and physician have discussed, understand, and agree has the best chance of promoting health and recovery.

Choosing Your Physician is Important

Just like choosing your personal injury lawyer, you should choose your doctor. You want the best physician for your medical needs and circumstances. This may come from word-of-mouth, internet research, reviews by others who have used the professional’s services, or a referral from friend, family member, co-worker, or another doctor.

You should be seeking the doctor whom you believe will provide you the help you need, and perhaps have the medical answers and care you are seeking. Your decision should not be whether or not that doctor is connected to an attorney, or whether your lawyer personally knows the doctor.

There are physicians who are patient-friendly and support their patients in injury claims. There are doctors who are linked to insurance companies, to whom these  insurance carriers pay large sums of money to deny the existence of injuries and further treatment. It is because of this that some lawyers believe the client must be saved from seeking treatment with a known defense-oriented physician.

In my experience, however, there are many more doctors who are indifferent and not involved or linked to lawyers or insurance companies in the small world of personal injury matters. When a client is left to choose his or her own physician, based on that client’s injuries and circumstances, the client is often very satisfied with the care provided and the results. Similarly, allowing the natural course of choosing a physician also leads to a more convincing outcome for the insurance company.

Finding Your Physician on Your Own Helps Your Personal Injury Case

While some consumers believe that a doctor who is connected to a lawyer is important in achieving a good result, in the real world the opposite is often true. A physician who is known as a plaintiff’s doctor may have a credibility problem with the insurance adjuster. The care may be excellent and the doctor well-qualified and credentialed, but the impression is a bad one in the minds of some insurance carriers and some jurors.

Why tempt that impression at all? Nowadays, injured persons have access to volumes of information about doctors. Use this information to select yours. Because I hold to these principles, I can emphasize to insurance adjusters that the physician who has treated the injury victim, and who is supporting the client’s injury claim, has enhanced believability and authority. Insurance companies often agree—because they know it is true.

There can be no suggestions, inferences, or similar silliness that the attorney is some puppet-master over the physician. Notably, the same cannot be said of the insurance company’s hired gun, as such doctors are so vested and become so wealthy through the insurance pay master arrangement.

Helping You Recover Top Compensation by Allowing You to be You

Being yourself can be an unstoppable force toward securing justice in your auto crash claim or personal injury matter. Sometimes, your lawyer has to step aside and realize that choreographing important parts of your life—such as picking your doctors—is the wrong play.

Because I have been a trial attorney and litigator since 1995, I have learned a lot of about what leads to success and justice and what leads to loss and poor results. Part of this experience also means unlearning methods others use which in my view do not serve clients well.

Lawyer Not Taking Your Calls? Get a New Lawyer

Understandably, a lawyer who does not answer clients’ telephone calls or have the courtesy to return the call promptly—as soon as possible and practicable—draws the ire of clients. There can be occasions in which the lawyer is in trial for days morning through evening, and I have found clients comprehend the need for the attorney to focus on that courtroom battle, and can wait until the trial’s conclusion. The client’s call is returned upon completion of the trial or perhaps during a recess of the action, depending on the circumstances.

Legal Representation Should Mean Personal Involvement

In virtually every other circumstance, however, the professional and courteous thing to do is to call the client back as promptly as possible. If the lawyer is available for the call when it comes in, then the attorney should take the call. If the attorney is in with a client or at deposition or in court when the client calls the office, then the lawyer should simply call the client back as soon as he or she becomes available—during the same day in most scenarios.

Legal representation in personal injury claims used to mean that the injury attorney would be personally involved with the client and the claim. That is still true for some of us; however, it seems as though many lawyers are trending toward placing more people between themselves and the clients they represent.

Nowadays, many law firms—large, medium, and small—have numerous legal assistants who are a buffer between the lawyer and client. Among the various titles:

  • Intake specialist
  • Case manager
  • Case coordinator
  • Client liaison
  • Claims analyst

Shouldn’t the lawyer be managing, coordinating, and analyzing your circumstances? Do you want your lawyer to know you and your needs? Why is a legal assistant running the case? Whatever happened to the lawyer and client working directly together?

Your Personal Injury Lawyer Should be Personal to You

Something many prospective clients discuss with me is their desire to know their lawyer. They want a hands-on attorney who knows the details of their injuries, harms, losses, and struggles. Knowing a client’s hardship, and understanding their needs directly from them, is part of the confidence of the attorney-client relationship.

In my experience, clients are yearning for what seems to be old-fashioned: knowing their attorney, meeting their attorney, and having their lawyer personally represent them. They want the lawyer to do the work, not only because they think the lawyer should actually earn his or her keep, but want to make sure that the lawyer’s experience which was part of the hiring decision is actually used for their benefit.

Universally, in my experience as an attorney since 1995, clients want the lawyer to vested in their legal case. After all, clients hire the lawyer—not a receptionist or assistant—to do the substantive work. I am personally involved in every client’s case, this is not an issue with my law firm.

Building a Stronger Attorney-Client Relationship

The lawyer-client relationship should be a strong one, and building that relationship begins with knowing your lawyer. If you have signed a fee agreement, talk only to assistants, and have never met or talked about substance (and not chit-chat) with your attorney, then you do not have a real relationship with your attorney. You may be technically attorney and client and covered in that respect, but you don’t know your attorney.

Honesty about where you stand, the challenges you face, and how your attorney may overcome them, should be discussions you have with your lawyer, and not some legal assistant. Knowing your needs, your hopes, and your goals should be conversations you have with your attorney, and not a helper.

How can you get to this place? Very simple. Interview your lawyer—personally—before you hire him or her. Do not sign any fee agreement placed before you by any assistant unless or until you have met the lawyer or had a thorough discussion by phone. This basic step will tell you almost everything you need to know.

If your lawyer is not taking your calls or calling you back, then perhaps it’s time for a new lawyer. Chances are you did not get to know your attorney before hiring him or her, and counsel never got to know you. You are now experiencing the reality of this type of distant relationship.

As a personal injury lawyer, I view candid conversations with clients as basic building blocks to develop and maintain a strong lawyer-client relationship. Through in-person meetings and thorough discussions by phone, I answer my clients calls or return them promptly—every client, every time.

Settlement of Personal Injury Claims

Like you, I am a consumer.  So, when I see all of these personal injury lawyer ads that seem to be chest-thumping and talking about “trials” and “trying your case,” I wonder:  who cares?  I personally do not think anyone cares about such claims.

Personal Injury Lawyers and Trial Lawyers

You have to understand that not every personal injury lawyer is a trial lawyer and not every trial lawyer is a personal injury lawyer. Some lawyers have tried cases before juries, and others have not. Some lawyers who have not tried cases are excellent, whereas others are simply not that good. Similarly, simply having tried a case before a jury does not transform an attorney into some superhero. The fact is, some lawyers are simply good at telling a story of loss and hope and connecting with others in the personal injury context, and others are not.

Great trial lawyers lose cases at trial. The old saying—which I believe is true—is true, is that if a lawyer boasts about never losing a case then he or she probably has not tried enough cases. This is because the circumstances—the actual facts, the genuine story of what happened and the person whom the events affected, along with the law which applies to those faces—are hugely important.

Framing the story and making sure the critical details are told, and told effectively, are very important as well, but ultimately depend on the actual circumstances. In other words, unfavorable circumstances and law, more often than not, yield unfavorable results; regardless of how excellent or learned the advocate may be.

Trial Lawyer Who Focuses on Personal Injury Claims

I am proud to be a trial lawyer, which I have been since 1995. I have tried cases to juries and arbitration panels. Some years have involved many trials while others have seen none. Many civil cases—which includes personal injury, wrongful death, and similar tort claims—settle out of court. These cases may be litigated in court but the parties often come together and resolve their differences through settlement. This is the reality of 90% or more of these claims.

Trials for me are exciting.  Win or lose, they can be exhilarating. The pressure to win, the tradition of addressing the jury in opening statement and closing argument, the thrill of cross-examining witnesses.  Taking all of the information and using your skill to present it in a cogent, coherent way; telling the story of your client and the challenges faced.  It can be epic for the trial lawyer.  Creating a genuine, gripping, show based on the evidence is a form of theater.

I enjoy trials and the process of trying cases to juries. I enjoy the work, the tactics, strategy, and storytelling elements and performing them live in front of an audience. Nevertheless, I also understand that perhaps the overwhelming majority of lawyers do not like trying cases. In reality, of the million or more lawyers out there, only a small fraction have ever tried a case to a jury.

Many Individuals and Businesses in Personal Injury Claims Prefer Settlement

A lot of clients, actually, do not want a trial. The pressure, the risk—a trial is often all-or-nothing bet—is rarely the desired route for plaintiffs or defendants. Individuals and businesses do not like having their stories in the public domain. Individuals do not like the exposure of their private lives, their medical history, and personal stories publicly available for the masses. Similarly, businesses do not like the negative publicity, details about their company, or mistakes they have made, made public. many people prefer to avoid that tension.

Instead, plaintiffs and defendants alike, in the overwhelming majority of personal injury claims, prefer to reach a settlement. Reaching terms which are fair, reasonable, and fulfill the needs of the injured do take a lot of work. Contingencies have to be planned for; the terms must be carefully developed to protect the injured person. Your lawyer should be be seeking maximum compensation for your circumstances.

I have not a single client who has desired a trial instead of a fully reasonable settlement. Most injured persons and most at-fault parties would rather reach a settlement and move on. That is the reality.

Do You Want to Settle Your Personal Injury Claim?

The questions you should be asking, perhaps, are whether the lawyer you choose can appreciate the facts of your case and present them in a way which may lead to the results you want. Is your personal injury lawyer someone who can negotiate the best settlement under your circumstances? Can your trial lawyer take your facts and craft a truthful story—the art of theater based on the evidence—without having to go through a jury trial? Is a trial in your best interests? What are the risks of going to trial versus the risks of settlement?

Ask yourself these questions when considering your options and who will represent you and your family in your personal injury claims. If you have questions, then contact me for a free consultation.

Consumer Agency Links

At Harris Law, I pursue justice for victims of personal injury and wrongful death in Southwest Florida. Their causes  come in different forms—auto accident, motorcycle injury, commercial vehicle accident, defective product, dangerous drug, medical implant defect, premises liability, dangerous property conditions, slip and fall, construction accident, child sexual abuse—and many more.

Part of seeking justice includes recover compensation for their pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, and future needs. Although helping serious injury victims obtain compensation is the focus of my law practice, I often receive calls from good people who believe they were ripped off, and these victims don’t know who to call.

Here are some resources to start you on your road to protecting yourself and fighting back.

Lee County Consumer Links

For theft, criminal fraud, and other criminal conduct in Lee County, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Fort Myers Beach, and Bonita Springs:

Collier County Consumer Links

Charlotte County Consumer Links

Hendry County Consumer Links

Sarasota County Consumer Links
SW Fla. Consumer Protection Links

For consumer fraud, contractors, mechanics, doctors, banks, employment, and everything else A-Z, then try the following Florida agencies. Each of these agencies has a consumer division:

Using Your Consumer Resources

Each of these local and  agencies has a different mission. You may have to search their sites or call them for a quick answer on which agency oversees which business or trade with whom you have a dispute.  There are many departments, bureaus, and divisions within each agency which may have jurisdiction over your issue.

For the smaller claims, however, these agencies can be very helpful.

Hopefully, by contacting a consumer protection agency for your Lee County rip-off, or to recover losses and deliver justice to unscrupulous scammers, you will be on your way to better days ahead.

After Personal Injury You Are the Underdog

How do I act now? Can I continue to live my life as best I can after the personal injury? How will the insurance company react?

A common question in various forms comes up all the time when a person has sustained a serious personal injury, whether broken bones, TBI, spinal cord injury, disfigurement, or similar harms and losses. Whether the injury was caused by a slip and fall, car accident, motorcycle crash, construction accident, dangerous product, or injury at work, my answer is always the same: be yourself.

Always Be the Underdog Overcoming Adversity

Do what you do. Live your life as though there is no personal injury claim. Honesty and truth are your stock-in-trade, your lifetime assets. They cannot hurt you. Only untruths damage your injury claim.

What will hurt you and your injury compensation claim is if you start editing your life into what you think a jury or insurance carrier may find sympathetic. Think about it: do you cheer for the competitor who does not try and clearly pities himself, or the person who keeps trying again and again despite all the hardship and conditions going against him or her? The answer is obvious. The true underdog is the one who is seeking to overcome, not having a pity-party. True underdogs often prevail in personal injury claims.

There are certainly some catastrophic injuries which take a long time to heal or improve, and the goals for the conscious survivor may be limited. Such harms and losses speak in large part for themselves, and the measure of self-improvement is much smaller.

Get Going Again When You Can and Your Personal Injury Claim Will be Stronger

In other instances, severe injuries begin to heal or permit the survivor to start gaining ground on getting back into life. For these injury victims, healing and going back to work or performing daily tasks again—even if there are limited or even if you work through the pain—are points of celebration—we want to put this hard work on display—and never something to hide. On the other hand, if you believe that laying in bed when you are capable of getting up and going to work or doing daily activities will your help you obtain more compensation, then you will be disappointed.

No one should be afraid to live their life, trying to overcome challenges and succeeded, and stopping them from fulfilling their goals. The personal injury may have caused a serious setback in all respects, but that does not mean you are required to wallow in the pain and suffering to enhance your compensation. You cannot rely on any insurance company to care about the depth of your loss and the misery it has caused you and your family. Such reliance is misplaced and will not help you.

Underdogs Often Win Big

You can help you. In my experience, juries and many insurance companies prefer to compensate good people who have a winning attitude. This means that you have goals, no matter how small or how large. When you take steps to achieve them—even in the face of incredible odds because of the injury caused by a negligent or careless person or corporation—you are demonstrating that you want to move forward to get better, to hep yourself, to improve your circumstances. These are the building blocks of a winner. Juries invest in winners, and insurance companies know this.

People in Southwest Florida who sit on juries love the underdog. This is true throughout the U.S. We all have a passion to see the underdog overcome great challenges and succeed. When you are seriously injured and visibly working hard to improve your life in the face of a serious injury, you are the underdog. That force is almost unstoppable in a serious injury claim, and becomes a freight train toward achieving maximum compensation.