I don't accept a personal injury case unless the facts support a beneficial outcome as to both liability and damages. People often ask whether they can benefit by having a lawyer as their advocate, rather than advocate for themselves before an insurance. The answer is a resounding yes, and the reason is that the lawyer typically operates on a contingency fee basis, where there is no compensation paid to the lawyer unless the client receives benefits. The typical contingency fee is one third of the benefits collected. No fees are collected up front or paid unless we prevail.
It has been a privilege to represent those damaged by personal injury due to the negligence of another. The civil justice system offers monetary damages in an effort to make the injured party whole. To some, this might seem like adding insult to injury by reducing the pain and suffering to a number of dollars. My job is to make the other side and/or the factfinder to see the human being on the other side of the injury, and to realize that we are trying to find justice for him or her, however imperfect it may seem. Most of these cases do not go to jury trial, however. The reason is the same that most criminal cases result in plea agreements: the system is not equipped to handle so many trials, and as a result alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a court ordered predicate to trial. This represents the hiring of a neutral third party (usually another lawyer) to meet with both parties, to hear opening statements from both sides summarizing the facts of their claim or defense, and to make an early neutral evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses. This process often leads to favorable outcomes, as both sides are forced to negotiate against the backdrop of rising costs, including deposition costs, expert witness fees and jury trial costs, not to mention the cost of hiring the mediator. These sessions are often like mini-trials, where each side has to stand and deliver their best argument to the neutral third party lawyer, and hear the honest evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses. It is the system's best alternative to trying every case. I prepare for these sessions as I would prepare for trial, gathering statements, honing arguments, providing materials to the mediator in advance, and humanizing the injury and the injured. I enjoy the challenge of making it about more than money.