On An Accident Paid Off My MFA Debt

I never comment on the internet, but felt compelled to create this account after reading this piece a couple times with a bad taste in my mouth. I fear that if I dig into the specifics of bugs me about this narrative, I’ll just end up making what will read as personal attacks on the author, and that’s the last thing I want. What I DO want, however, is to throw out a few points in defense of “sleezy” personal injury attorneys everywhere. 1)You, as a non-corporate entity, have the deck stacked against you. If you are injured, be it car accident, slip and fall in the grocery store, or plugging in an exploding toaster oven, you’re going to be getting a lot of heat from insurance companies whose job it is to make sure your pain does not cost them one penny more than can be wrested from their tight grasp. A lawyer runs interference. We keep people from talking to you while you’re recovering, and we act as experienced intermediaries to try to keep you from getting shaken down when you’re at your most vulnerable. 2)Your lawyer works for you. You call the shots. If you don’t understand what’s going on, ask your lawyer to explain it. If your lawyer doesn’t explain it well, ask again. If you don’t like how your lawyer treats you, *find a different lawyer.* This is complicated stuff, and you are entitled to understand what’s going on. Your lawyer’s job is to negotiate for you and, if you decide to, go to court for you. Your job is to communicate with your lawyer. We can’t represent your interests if you don’t communicate your interests. Even the best of us cannot read minds. Probably. 3)When I present a settlement offer to a client, they are seeing a sheet of paper with a bunch of numbers on it (“$X to Dr. Y, Z, etc…”), and they are often eager to get to the last number on the line (“When the above payments have been made, your settlement amounts to $.”). What they may not realize is that each of those numbers represents a great deal of man hours from myself, the other attorneys in the office, and our support staff- calling hospitals to keep bills out of collections, negotiating with doctors to reduce your bill, sometimes reducing our own fees to make sure you have something in your pocket to show for your pain and suffering. The bulk of my day is spent wrangling medical fees and trying to persuade insurance adjusters that their computer-generated estimate of what your pain is “worth” is not sufficient. There’s a lot of back in forth in there that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It’s tedious, it’s infuriating, and we live for the days when we can call the single mom with two kids to tell her that her check is finally in and she can breathe easy about this month’s rent. 4)As in any profession, there are going to be bad apples. Maybe they’re bad people, maybe they’re bad at their job, or maybe they’re just bad at communicating. Whatever the reason, they’re not great representatives of the career. It’s unfortunate that attorneys seem to have so many of these (or at least more vocal examples of these), but most of us want to do a good job for our clients- we just might need a little help on your end. TL;DR, not all lawyers are bad and you're not a bad person for getting compensated for your injuries!

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 11:48 am 8