THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - COMPASSIONATE AND AGGRESSIVE LEGAL SERVICES FOR PERSONAL INJURY VICTIMS OF CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
In my law practice, I am often confronted with many different types of potential cases and issues that range from the serious and profitable to the run of the mill cases (which are needed by the way) to the cases where I wonder if the person is on their meds that morning! The beautiful part of being a solo practitioner is that I do get to see it and hear it all. When I conduct a consult with any potential injury victim or a potential client that may have a situation that may require a civil suit, the very first analysis I do is "How much will this cost the client to pursue" and "how profitable will this be for the firm?"
If a client is coming in to speak about a car accident where there is $10,000 in medical bills and the other driver was at fault and was insured, then both of those questions are answered in a satisfactory manner. What about a case involving a fight with a drunk, and my potential client has $2000.00 in medical bills and it is known that the drunk has no assets and no property to pursue to satisfy a judgment? Should I take a $3000.00 retainer to pursue that? The answer is not always as easy as it seems.
WHEN DO I NEED A LAWYER? AND WHEN DO I NOT NEED A LAWYER?
In my head, I have a system that is broken down into three separate classes that help me evaluate a case as to whether the client does actually need my services or is it something that the client can pursue on their own and actually save money. There are a few exceptions to these rules that are very fact specific, but I am not shy about giving the client solid sound advice on whether their claim should warrant the involvement of an attorney. These are the questions that I ask myself:
1. ARE YOU DEALING WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY OR AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER?.If the answer to this question is "YES" then you need a lawyer! It is no big secret that the backbone of the profit of insurance companies is the money they save by under-valuing and under-paying claims. When the insurance adjuster, whether it be in the context of a car accident, or a slip and fall, or a dog bite, hears that you the client are going to represent yourself in the claim, they begin to salivate. The adjusters at an insurance company are promoted based upon the amount they save by under-paying claims. The fact is that a claim that is being pursued by a victim on their own behalf will never ever be valued by an insurance company at the amount it would if a lawyer was involved. It is that simple!
Example: Working a case where my client was attempting to resolve her car accident injury claim on her own prior to hiring my firm. The insurance company offered her $500.00 within 48 hours of the accident to settle the claim. Luckily she called me before accepting these terms. Once we had her checked out by the doctor and she received necessary treatments, her medical bills are now $14,000.00! Their initial offer to me as the attorney was $19,000.00. The insurance company's latest offer on this case was $24,000.00 (which we have declined). See the difference in the scale of the negotiation and the actual magnitude of getting proper medical treatments once a lawyer is involved.
2. ARE YOU DEALING WITH A CUSTOMER SERVICE ISSUE OR NON-RESPONSIVE MANAGEMENT
If the crux of your problem deals with a response to something, or a lack of attentiveness from a service provider, you most likely do not need a lawyer, at least not in the interim. Not needing a lawyer does not mean that you should not document what is happening and the responses you get for your problem. It is just in these situations, it is more times than not much more cost effective to resolve the issue directly with the service provider than to hire a lawyer. Start by reaching out to upper management or ownership. Many times they will not even be aware of the issue and can offer a quick resolution to your problem. If management or ownership does not address the negligent act that led to your injuries, then the next step is for you to consider your costs and damages. Did you slip and fall but only bruise you leg and you're out a $50.00 co-pay to your doctor? Or did you slip and fall and fracture a leg bone or hit your head or suffer a cut?. If you basically have a bruise and hurt feelings, you don't have a million dollar case and you don't need a lawyer! If your damages amount to more than a few thousand dollars then you may want to consult a lawyer. If your damages are less than a few thousand dollars you may want to sue directly through Magistrate's Court (South Carolina's version of Small Claims). You do not need a lawyer to represent you in Magistrate Court.
3. ARE YOU PURSING AN INDIVIDUAL OR COMPANY THAT HAS NO ASSETS BUT IT'S "A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE"
In this situation, the vast majority of the time you will not need a lawyer. In fact I will counsel clients as such if this situation arises. I always leave the final decision to the client but I am never shy to inform someone of my opinion on this matter. There is an old saying that "you can't squeeze blood out of a rock." Having a $1,000,000.00 judgment is not worth the paper it is printed on if there is no way of enforcing it. The viability of any legal cause of action is dependent upon the ability to collect damages from a liable party. (That's why insurance is so important!)
When I question the potential success of a case and know that there is little to be gained from it, I inform the client that they may want to pursue the matter on their own or if they still want my services, I will have to charge an up front retainer to undertake the case. That fee will vary depending upon the case but it is rarely under $2000.00. Are you willing to spend that much money to pursue your case? If not, then you don't need a lawyer.
REMEMBER . . . DESPITE USING THIS ANALYSIS TO "DIAGNOSE" THE VIABILITY OF A CASE, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT IF YOU EVER HAVE ANY TYPE OF LEGAL QUESTION, NEVER ASSUME THE ANSWER, PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL A LAWYER! WHETHER YOU HIRE A LAWYER OR NOT, NEVER FLY BLIND INTO ANY LEGAL SITUATION!
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - DEDICATED TO SERVING INJURY VICTIMS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
As a Car Accident and Personal Injury lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and earn just compensation for you as a result of your accident. Through my efforts, I can bring about much needed financial relief to a victim who may be suffering from serious injuries and permanent disability. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or due to the negligent or reckless acts of another in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306