The Truth About Personal Injury “Settlement Mills”
Sustaining personal injury from a car accident, a faulty product or otherwise is a difficult and complex thing to endure. When pursuing damages for those injuries, you want to make sure the law firm you choose is the right one for your needs.
Interestingly, we recently found a study published in the New York University Law Review [86 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 805-886 (Oct. 2011)] that revealed a fairly alarming trend: Many personal injury cases today are handled by high-volume law firms that take a mechanistic approach to handling cases rather than an individual one — firms which the author, Nora Freeman Engstrom, calls “settlement mills.”
In this study, Ms. Engstrom, who is an assistant professor at Stanford Law School, reviews evidence from 8 large personal injury-focused firms across the U.S. From her research, she found that high-volume “settlement mills” actually dedicate very few attorney hours to each individual case. Additionally, claims handled by these firms are often settled at a lower value than they may be if handled by a conventional attorney due to these formulaic processes.
If you or a loved one is looking to hire an attorney for a personal injury case, please review the information below, summarized from Ms. Engstrom’s report, to ensure the firm you choose has your best interests in mind.
What is a “Settlement Mill”?
According to Ms. Engstrom, personal injury “settlement mills” provide a service that’s quite different than traditional counsel. Rather than offering individual attention to each client, settlement mills pursue large volumes of claims in a fairly formulaic or “cookie-cutter” manner. These firms handle cases quickly and systematically, Ms. Engstrom says, which often reduces the value of a claim. Her research also revealed that these mills rarely file law suits or expend resources to vet cases, and that case managers were likely to handle cases rather than actual lawyers.
Simply put, the business model of these “settlement mills” seems to value quantity of claims versus quality of service provided.
According to the study, personal injury “settlement mills” typically:
- Advertise more aggressively
- Maintain an unusually high number of claims at a given time
- Do not expend extensive resources to pursue a claim
- Do not offer many face-to-face meetings between lawyers and clients
- Emphasize settlement versus actual trial litigation
For claims that have less merit or are lower value, these “settlement firms” could, in theory, serve a purpose, Ms. Engstrom says. However, according to her data, the trend has contributed to a decrease in value for more serious, meritorious claims.
Finding the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
When it comes to pursuing damages for a personal injury claim, we believe that one size does not fit all. Before entrusting your personal injury claim to just any law firm, take some time to decide whether the attorney you meet with has your best interests in mind. Consider asking these questions to determine if an attorney is right for you:
- Has the attorney ever handled a case like yours?
- How many other claims is the attorney handling?
- Is the attorney prepared to file a lawsuit if necessary?
It’s your personal injury case — and you deserve a law firm that matches your needs. At the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood, we routinely counsel clients on many areas of Personal Injury Law, and have handled cases in areas such as workers’ compensation, malpractice, wrongful death, products liability and more. Our skilled attorneys take pride in delivering individual service to each client. If you live in North Carolina and need representation for your personal injury claim, please do not hesitate to contact our office for assistance today.
This entry was posted in Personal Injury