There are a lot of “dirty secrets” when it comes to lawyers and how they market themselves, celebrate their success and talk to clients. One dirty secret covers all three of those areas and it has to do with what a case is worth.
When you go to a lawyer in Illinois, it’s expected that they will know what they are talking about and that you will not. Your hope is that they will be honest with you and look out for your best interests. When it comes to accident cases, it’s not uncommon for an attorney to say something like “The more I get for you, the more I get for me, so I’m motivated to get you the most money possible.”
If I was a client and I heard that, I’d assume that the attorney is on the same page as me. If down the road they told me that my case was at most worth a million dollars and that’s what the settlement would be, I’d believe them and think they did a great job.
The problem with this is that I could be very wrong and it could cost me a lot of money.
I’m not saying one million isn’t a lot. It is. But if your case is worth 5 million and they get you one million or two million and they get you one, then they really sold you out.
What happens in some cases is people hire law firms that either aren’t doing well financially or don’t want to do the work needed. If you are a lawyer and struggling to pay the bills, getting 333k now for settling a case for one million dollars might be better for you rather than doing the work needed to go to trial and possibly get five million in a year. If your office is closed by then it doesn’t help you.
The problem is that shouldn’t matter. The client’s best interests should be all that matter, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.
The second and more common scenario is when an attorney just doesn’t want to do their job. If they went to trial that would mean a lot of depositions, a lot of prep work and in most trials, a week or two where they are doing nothing else. Sadly some attorneys will tell their clients lies and make it seem like their position won’t get much better at a trial or lie and say “you could end up with nothing.” That could be true in some cases, but some attorneys use that in every case as a lie to convince their clients to take an offer.
To me it’s outrageous that attorneys would sell out their clients and crazy that they would turn down the strong likelihood of a much higher payday for themselves, but it does happen.
On the plus side, their are a ton of really good personal injury attorneys in Illinois. There is a famous story of a top Chicago accident lawyer who turned down a six million dollar offer because he was confident his client’s case was worth at least 20 million. He took the case to trial and got over 29 million awarded by a jury. Because he cared about his client she ended up with more than 35 million at the end of the day after the appeals process played itself out.
It’s not just these seven and eight figure cases where this can happen. We see cases worth $50,000 get settled for $30,000 all the time. You won’t always get the maximum, but should avoid getting low balled whenever possible.
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