NEW YORK QUICK AND EASY CONSUMER
GUIDES TO ACCIDENTS AND MEDICAL
VOLUME 5-CHOOSING THE RIGHT
ACCIDENT OR MALPRACTICE LAWYER
10 SECRETS YOUR ACCIDENT OR
MALPRACTICE LAWYER DOES NOT WANT
YOU TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CASE
The Insurance companies are working against your
interests right now. Have you chosen the right
lawyer? Protect yourself. Be informed.
New York Accident and Medical Malpractice
10 SECRETS YOUR ACCIDENT OR MALPRACTICE LAWYER DOES NOT
WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CASE:
1) You are not guaranteed to win your case. I know this is something you
don’t want to hear after a terrible accident has changed you or your family’s
life forever, but I have seen too may just cases in the most celebrated lawyer’s
hands lost through no fault of that lawyer. If any lawyer tells you that your
case is a guaranteed winner, he or she is either lying or does not know any
better. In either case, you are better served elsewhere. What guarantees can
a qualified lawyer make? Turn to the end of this book and find out.
2) You are not guaranteed a certain amount of money for your case. If your
lawyer tells you your case is worth over a million dollars on the first visit with
him, run out the door. He or she is only trying to get you to retain him or
her. While it is certainly true that certain injuries generally have a range of
values that is known by published sources and that lawyer’s experience, the
value of your case cannot be known until all medical records are
procured, all witnesses are interviewed, and in all malpractice cases and
many trip and fall cases, your entire case is reviewed by a qualified
expert. Again, guarantees on the amount of money your case is worth are
irresponsible and simply untrue, especially early in the litigation.
3) A lawyer may never handle your case. I know this may sound shocking, but
many personal injury firms in New York are what are known as “mills.” They
handle a large volume of small cases with little, if any, work on the case
performed by attorneys. This is not a misprint. Paralegals handle these
injured persons cases and some firms go as far as allowing paralegals to
handle settlement negotiations with insurance adjusters. Be aware of any
firm where you do not meet with an attorney at your initial consultation
with the firm or before your deposition. In my opinion, these are tasks
that must be handled by a lawyer.
4) If you are fortunate enough to have a lawyer handle your case, that
lawyer may not be a partner. In too many “big firms” the lawyer who will
be handling your case will be an associate of the firm. Many of these
associates are qualified, hard working lawyers. However, a depressingly high
number of associates feel overworked and underpaid. Whether they are
overworked and underpaid is not important. What is important is that attitude
may filter into their work on your case. You deserve better. Ask this
question and listen to the answer: Will you guarantee that a partner will
be at my deposition and try my case?
5) The law is growing increasingly specialized in accident and malpractice
cases. Let’s get real here. How can someone who does not concentrate in
this area keep up with the changes in the law? They can’t. Every year the
New York State Trial Lawyers (an organization of attorneys who dedicate
their practices to accidents and malpractice) sponsors a sixteen hour seminar
called “Decisions.” The seminar highlights the important legal decisions that
affect the practice of accident and malpractice law and provides literally
hundreds of cases for a busy practitioner to review. I review these cases. This
process takes a lot of time. Does your lawyer?
6) Your lawyer cannot guarantee how long it will take to resolve your case.
While it is generally true that most cases resolve within 2-3 years, sometimes
cases can take longer to resolve. The question is why the delay?
Sometimes the delay is not your lawyer’s fault. For example, your lawyer
may have defeated a motion to dismiss your case, and now the defense wants
to appeal that decision. Nevertheless, sometimes your lawyer is simply
neglecting your case. If you think your lawyer is neglecting your case ask
him or her to explain in writing the reason for the delay. If he or she does
not comply, get another lawyer.
7) You can fire your lawyer. Your case is too important for you to be
unsatisfied with your lawyer’s representation. You should know, however,
that your lawyer may still be entitled to a portion of the legal fee for the work
that that lawyer performed up to the time of discharge. You should also
know that if you have retained another lawyer, I will probably not take
your case unless it is soon after the accident and/or you have suffered a
serious or catastrophic injury. In my opinion, early investigation and
early retention of experts are crucial to the outcome of your case. I
simply won’t compromise this notion absent special circumstances.
8) Experts matter in the outcome of your case. This is especially true in
medical malpractice cases because you cannot even prove the overwhelming
majority of malpractice cases without an expert. I also routinely use experts
in my trip and fall and slip and fall cases and construction accident cases to
prove a case under a particular statute or ordinance. Also know that doctors,
economists, and life care planners may be necessary to prove the damages you
suffered as a result of your accident or malpractice.
9) Experts can be expensive. Some experts charge over $7,500 to testify in a
case. If your lawyer is not willing to spend money for the right experts on
your case, he or she should not be representing you.
10) Not all lawyers are created equal. Something all insurance companies
know but too many injured people do not. Insurance companies know who
practices in the area of accidents and malpractice and who “dabbles” in it.
You should know too.
NOW THAT YOU KNOW THESE 10 SECRETS, WHY SHOULD YOU
HERE ARE 5 REASONS:
1) I am a lawyer who is bold enough to reveal these well guarded secrets
despite criticism by others in my field.
2) I am the only lawyer I know of who gives guarantees and puts them in
writing. Here are 3 guarantees:
1) Guaranteed Individualized Attention: I will interview you. A
paralegal or an associate will not. I will answer your questions, not
another lawyer or paralegal. I will appear with you for your
deposition. A paralegal or another associate will not. Though
most cases settle, I will try your case if it does not settle. Most
important, I will not refer your case to another lawyer. Too
many lawyers advertise for cases just so that they can refer
them to other lawyers and collect a fee. When you hire me,
you get me.
2) Guaranteed Aggressive Representation: How can I guarantee
this? Simple. I only take cases I believe in. I turn down those that
I don’t believe in or meet my strict criteria. I have provided my
criteria for selecting cases in the Special Appendix section of each
volume in this series. I know these criteria may sound harsh, but I
can only guarantee you individualized attention and aggressive
representation if these criteria are met. I limit my case intake. My
smaller case load allows me to give your case my full commitment.
You deserve that commitment. If I can’t give you that full
commitment, I will tell you. I don’t want to hurt you again after
what you have been through.
3) Guaranteed no legalese or lawyer talk when speaking or
communicating with me: I am a straight shooter. I hate lawyer
talk. I will communicate and explain legal concepts to you in plain
English. I will write to you in plain English. If you hear me say
subsequent instead of after, you have my permission to scream
“lawyer talk” loudly. I promise I will stop.
3) You deserve a lawyer with experience as a person representing
both the injured and those who the injured sue: For the first part of my
professional life, I represented injured people. For the past few years, I
trained with the senior partner of a leading medical malpractice defense
firm who was the editor and chief of the New York State Bar
Association’s book Medical Malpractice in New York. I have seen how
the insurance companies and their lawyers work and I can put that
knowledge to work for you.
4) You deserve a lawyer with results when representing the
injured: I have attained verdicts and settlements for injured New York
consumers in the six and seven figures, including a verdict of over
5) After reading this book or another book in this series, you have
grown to trust me to do what is right for you and your family.
Whatever you or your family decide to do next, I wish you the best of