This is a guest post by Anthony Castelli, a car accident personal injury lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A car accident attorney’s primary job is to put as much money as they can in their client’s pocket. It does not benefit the client that has serious injuries and damages to get a large settlement, but after the attorney’s fee, expenses of preparing the case, and payment of medical bills and subrogation claims, there is little left for the client.
The old adage “it takes money to make money is also true.” The good personal injury lawyers know that in most cases they will need to pay a doctor for a comprehensive report detailing the nature and extent of the car accident victim’s injuries, how those injuries will affect the client in the future and the cause of the injuries. This helps drive the car accident settlement amount up, in some cases substantially.
So the answer to putting more money in the client’s pocket is not spending less money on preparing the case. Of course, it is helpful to spend the money wisely. But it will be necessary to spend money on certain things, such as the doctor’s report and obtaining all the medical evidence. Some attorneys will not advance the expenses. They expect the car accident victim to front the expenses.
It is normally my practice to advance the expenses of preparing the personal injury case. The client then pays the expenses back out of the settlement. Most of the good auto injury lawyers handle cases this way. Otherwise the case would come to a stand still or settle cheaply, as most seriously injured people do not have the money to finance their insurance settlement.
In the first paragraph of this article I used the word “subrogation.” Normally, your medical insurance has a clause in the contract that requires injury victims to pay the medical insurer back if the car accident victim gets compensation from a third party. This is what subrogation means. This is where a smart car accident lawyer will work to put more money in your pocket. They will attempt to negotiate with your medical insurer to take back less than what they actually paid.
The auto injury attorney’s first step should be to get the language of the insurance policy. In some cases the insurance company fails to put the appropriate language in the policy to allow them to recover what they paid. Even if they have the correct language there are still arguments to be made such as unjust enrichment, failure to be made whole, and other equitable arguments.
You retain the most leverage by getting the best offer from the liability carrier and then negotiating with the medical carrier to reduce their payback. If you settle and then try to negotiate you have lost one of your big bargaining chips. That chip is to tell the medical carrier that your client is interested in the net in their pocket. If the medical insurer does not give some reduction your client may want to file suit. Then the medical insurer will have to hire a lawyer to collect and their net in their pocket will be less.