Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

High end personal injury cases, not a PI attorney

My firm is mostly business/real estate/estate litigation foc jorgedeclaro09/21/17
Who is giving you these cases? They obviously don't want to bostonlawyer.209/23/17
Referrals are from clients. Not other attorneys. jorgedeclaro09/24/17
I'm a pi attorney. That's an impressive streak. Do you feel physicssezno09/21/17
They just came in the door so we haven't gotten any value ye jorgedeclaro09/21/17
Pi can be a complex beast when it comes to expert medical is physicssezno09/21/17
My former used to jokingly say "the best money is referral m jd4hire09/21/17
You need to keep perspective. Your typical PI mill has hundr trickydick09/22/17
Exactly. It's not that we did nothing to get these cases, we jorgedeclaro09/22/17
Agreed on all points. That being said from what I've see majorkong09/22/17
Getting a decent case requires referrals or buying enough ad ambulancechaser201310/05/17
What sort of injuries/damages justified a half-million dolla specv31309/22/17
The award had nothing to do with the plaintiffs injuries, th majorkong09/22/17
Most jury studies show you get more traction out of focusing bsj2310/04/17
I agree with this assessment. I was told this early on in m ambulancechaser201310/05/17
We differ for good reasons, though. I do plaintiff's employ bsj2310/06/17
Please advise on the "horrible" conduct of the defendant and ambulancechaser201309/24/17
Definitely not in CA. In a deep-red southeastern state. majorkong09/24/17
"the best money is referral money." Very good lesson lear mrlollipop09/24/17
Wow. Did you get punitives? ambulancechaser201309/24/17
jorgedeclaro (Sep 21, 2017 - 11:35 am)

My firm is mostly business/real estate/estate litigation focused. We do no advertising beyond SEO online and community involvement so between the seven of us we might have 2-3 total personal injury cases total going at any given time. We won't handle minor car wrecks unless it is as a favor to an existing client.

Very abnormally, we've had four+ excellent PI cases come in the door just by happenstance or referrals from clients in the last month. Wrongful death, a couple of commercial trucking accidents. High dollar specials, clear liability and deep pocket defendants/insurance.

For the other non-PI attorneys out there, have you ever had a streak like this?

Reply Like (0)
bostonlawyer.2 (Sep 23, 2017 - 8:38 pm)

Who is giving you these cases? They obviously don't want to maximize values.

I have referred wrong death cases.

I would only refer them to 3 firms in the whole city - firms that strike fear into the hearts of defense attorneys.

These firms take cases to trial and maximize settlement value. So I feel like I am doing the family a service.

These firms only take significant cases, and work up every case to the max with experts.

Reply Like (0)
jorgedeclaro (Sep 24, 2017 - 11:00 pm)

Referrals are from clients. Not other attorneys.

Reply Like (0)
physicssezno (Sep 21, 2017 - 11:57 am)

I'm a pi attorney. That's an impressive streak. Do you feel your firm has gotten full value on those cases?

Reply Like (0)
jorgedeclaro (Sep 21, 2017 - 1:40 pm)

They just came in the door so we haven't gotten any value yet. I think we do generally do based on our past PI matters. We don't settle with demand letters and we are civil litigators generally so we have. no adversity to filing suit. They aren't med-mal or something that can have technical intricacies.

Reply Like (0)
physicssezno (Sep 21, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

Pi can be a complex beast when it comes to expert medical issues, distributing funds over time and especially persuading juries to set an amount for pain and suffering and overcome disdain for pi lawyers.

Reply Like (0)
jd4hire (Sep 21, 2017 - 2:16 pm)

My former used to jokingly say "the best money is referral money." It's tough to pick when, but at some point, you might do better sending it to a low volume PI attorney who has dedicated their career to shaking down carriers.

On the flip side, PI litigation can be fun, especially with a strong plaintiff's case.

I have never had a streak like that, but I'm not a plaintiff's PI. We have one partner in our office who isn't a great attorney, but man he brings in cases left and right (and that's why he's a partner).

Reply Like (0)
trickydick (Sep 22, 2017 - 12:32 pm)

You need to keep perspective. Your typical PI mill has hundreds of cases coming in, the overwhelming majority garbage rear enders, slip and falls and the like. Cases against commercial transports with high policy limits and premises liability cases with significant damages against defendants with deep pockets seem to make up something like 1 in 20 or 1 in 50 of our intake.

Any cases where you stand to make more than the $10k to $30k most cases are worth are great cases. And we can sign up as many as 5 or 10 of the sort of cases OP describes in a given week or over the span of a couple of months, but the issue is separating the chaff from the wheat. For every case we get like that we're probably taking dozens of cases where we're looking at a four figure settlement. The accomplishment here isn't getting so many decent cases, it's getting any decent cases without resorting to billboards and bench ads that brought in a hundred low value cases along with them.

Reply Like (0)
jorgedeclaro (Sep 22, 2017 - 2:16 pm)

Exactly. It's not that we did nothing to get these cases, we did good work for our normal clients and/or made connections with the community. However, these cases are mostly gifts, like a second Christmas bonus.

Reply Like (0)
majorkong (Sep 22, 2017 - 4:29 pm)

Agreed on all points.

That being said from what I've seen the value of these cases is entirely dependent on two things, 1) the insurance coverage and 2) the way the case gets worked up after the client is signed.

My firm just got a verdict in excess of 500k for a MIST case that most lawyers would have been thrilled to settle for 30k. Point is, just because there isn't horrible injuries to the client doesn't necessarily mean that the case is worth less.

Reply Like (0)
ambulancechaser2013 (Oct 5, 2017 - 11:29 pm)

Getting a decent case requires referrals or buying enough advertising contracts to get that $100,000.00 policy car wreck with $75,000.00 in hard meds where you can pop the policy with little to no work. No attorney will refer you the fracture case that he/she could settle with a demand letter, won't happen. The ad budget you are looking at exceeds $30,000.00 a month to get enough contracts, at least in SoCal.

Reply Like (0)
specv313 (Sep 22, 2017 - 5:24 pm)

What sort of injuries/damages justified a half-million dollar verdict if the case really was MIST?

Reply Like (0)
majorkong (Sep 22, 2017 - 5:39 pm)

The award had nothing to do with the plaintiffs injuries, their medical bills were less than 15k. It was the conduct of the defendant (and their employer) that drove the verdict upwards.

Reply Like (0)
bsj23 (Oct 4, 2017 - 11:55 pm)

Most jury studies show you get more traction out of focusing on the evil conduct of the defendant rather than getting them to sympathize with the Plaintiff.

IOW, it's easier to get people to act with vengeance than with sympathy.

I manage my own plaintiff's contingency practice, although not in PI. I screen out about 49 calls to get that one good one. You can usually get $$$ out of a jury when the defendant acted with demonstrably evil conduct, even if your client is practically a criminal.

Your case is a good example. Great job screening that out and maximizing its value. At least 60% of contingency work is screening the cases. If you're good at it, you'll get paid at least something 9 times out of 10. Even a bad attorney will get offered something for a good case--they'll give you something just to make sure you don't actually refer it to someone that's competent or just win by accident.

The other 40% is maximizing the value of those cases once you get them by not forgetting about additional causes of action that get you additional damages, not fudging up filing deadlines, doing a proper investigation through discovery and knowing what evidence you actually need, actually doing your legal research, and being good enough at trial to at least pose the threat of trial costs (although this can always be achieved by getting a reputation as someone who uses trial counsel, which is generally a good investment--if you have a good enough case, you'll have no problem finding an all-star litigator to try it for 33% of the fees, but they probably increase the value of the case by at least 33% anyway, so you don't really lose much, you make great professional connections, and you also get to learn from the best).

Reply Like (0)
ambulancechaser2013 (Oct 5, 2017 - 11:23 pm)

I agree with this assessment. I was told this early on in my personal injury days: anyone can settle a fracture case (broken bones). Soft tissue is something else, you might get a few bones just to get rid of the thing, but by the time you run the numbers: filing fee, cost to sign up the client, time your staff or you spent on the case, you are looking at a low four figure fee.

I will differ on this point: if you run a high volume shop, screening cases is not that important, indeed you might take 50-55% of the cases that call you off the advertising line. Basic screening is: (if auto) when did the collision occur, what kind of car where you driving, do you have the other side's insurance, do you have pictures, have you been to doctor, where you rear ended (take the case), what is the property damage, did you go to an ER. You are looking mostly for two things: basic liability questions (thus the rear ender is preferred as only the most skilled ID lawyer can defense those cases, and yes they can be defensed), pictures of the wreck, medical treatment rendered (you are looking for gaps in treatment since the collision occurred), and if you have the insurance of the other driver. That's it.

Reply Like (0)
bsj23 (Oct 6, 2017 - 3:50 am)

We differ for good reasons, though. I do plaintiff's employment. So the crappy cases are literally worth $0 plus a threat to counter-sue for defamation and collect costs. Maybe about 1 out of 50 are worth between $50-$75K (anything lower than this is generally not worth the work and time required). For every 5 of those, you might find one in the $150-$300K range. I have two that could reach 7 figures right now, but I have all-star co-counsel on both of them, so I'll be splitting my fees.

Employment cases rarely settle before filing, but also rarely go to trial. There's rarely hard evidence like medical bills, police reports, etc. Unless you have smoking gun text messages (just settled one of these pre-answer), e-mails, or DNA evidence of sexual harassment (yes, I have one of those...currently holding this back until defendant denies it under oath or until forced to disclose through discovery, whichever comes first), the case won't settle until you defeat summary judgment, or at least get to the point where people are telling their story under oath. Lots of he-said, she-said. So you really have to be careful on what cases you select, unless you want to work for free for 1.5 years being dragged to court for circus-type discovery antics in the meantime.

They're hard to screen from the get-go because there's about 12 potential statutes that can be implicated, and another 12 potential common law causes of action, and a lot of them have nearly parallel (but not totally the same) state and federal equivalents. And a lot of the federal ones there's circuit splits on both big and small details. And there's a lot of potential overlap, so you have to worry about preemption, removal, administrative exhaustion, short statutes of limitations, etc. You really have to know your stuff, otherwise you'll pass over big cases or latch on to an albatross.

Also, the employer is in control of most of the evidence, and they either won't hand it over until the last minute, or it will end up in the dumpster cut up like confetti. And they employ most of the witnesses, too, so everyone's scared to talk lest they get fired, too.

Also, each case is so factually and legally different that you are better off just writing all your pleadings and motions from scratch.

In short, it's a huge investment of time and work before you get paid, so be very selective.

Reply Like (0)
ambulancechaser2013 (Sep 24, 2017 - 1:11 am)

Please advise on the "horrible" conduct of the defendant and the employer?????

I am really curious.

Did the D not have an accident recon? No bio-mech? Is this in CA?

Reply Like (0)
majorkong (Sep 24, 2017 - 11:39 am)

Definitely not in CA. In a deep-red southeastern state.

It came out in discovery that the trucking company hadn't serviced the truck in forever (brakes were shot which was arguably the cause of the rear-end), the driver was on suboxones, and the company knew about his suboxone use but let him drive anways.

Reply Like (0)
mrlollipop (Sep 24, 2017 - 9:15 am)

"the best money is referral money."

Very good lesson learned. Thank you

Reply Like (0)
ambulancechaser2013 (Sep 24, 2017 - 12:24 pm)

Wow. Did you get punitives?

Reply Like (0)
Post a message in this thread