It has been over 40 years since Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down bans on commercial advertising by attorneys. Bates was a landmark case that paved the way for the current glut of personal injury attorneys who run endless television ads and have bigger-than-life pictures on billboards in metro, suburban, and even rural areas all over the country. Consumers are inundated with these ads on a daily basis, and they are often the first ones that personal injury victims call when they are looking for legal representation.
It is easy to understand why so many injury victims call the firms that do the heaviest advertising. Many consumers have no experience dealing with a lawyer; and, consequently, they do not know anyone in the legal profession. Therefore, they often assume that a firm with a large advertising budget has the most experience, expertise, and resources to help them obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries. Sadly, in many cases, the exact opposite is true, as many of these firms are what have come to be known as “settlement mills”.
Why the Settlement Mill Business Model is Bad for Your Business
Settlement mills are high-volume personal injury firms that advertise aggressively (especially on TV, radio, and billboards) and process mass volumes of claims in as short a time as possible. Many of these firms have advertising budgets that are well in excess of $1 million annually, with some spending ten times that amount. In order to cover these large advertising bills, they need to get as many cases through the door as possible, all while spending as little time as possible on each case. This is basically a “churn and burn” approach, and most of these firms are not all that interested in repeat business. The end result is that the client’s case is often settled for far less than if they had opted to work with a skilled attorney who provides more individualized service.
There are several disturbing characteristics of settlement mills that consumers should be aware of, including:
High Volume Processing: As mentioned earlier, the business model of a settlement mill depends on volume. They blanket the airwaves with advertising, hoping to pull in as many cases as possible to cover advertising costs.
Clients Obtained from Aggressive Advertising: Nearly all of the clients that settlement mills sign come from their massive volume of advertising, as opposed to more traditional firms who may tend to receive most of their clients through referrals from other lawyers or people within the community. Settlement mills know that a large segment of the population is not familiar with the legal profession, and they count on bringing in consumers through their slick TV, radio, and billboard ads.
Very Little Involvement by an Attorney: Because of their high volume of clients, most of the actual work performed on each case is done by paraprofessionals rather than attorneys.
Lack of Personalized Representation: Settlement mills tend to advertise all over the region and, with some firms, throughout the country. In fact, we have several in Alabama that advertise massively here and in neighboring states like Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. This type of firm will usually not have a local office near you, and you will rarely ever meet an attorney face-to-face.
Cases Almost Never Go to Trial: Perhaps the worst characteristic of a settlement mill from the standpoint of an injured party is the fact that they settle nearly all of their cases and rarely, if ever, take a case to trial. These firms need to process high volumes of cases quickly, and going to trial is simply incompatible with their business model. The consequences of settling high numbers of cases without going to trial are twofold. First, it is obviously bad for injured parties, who are often entitled to far more compensation (for their injuries) under the law than what was accepted out of court. Second, this is bad for other injured parties as well, because these cheap settlements drive down case values and make it more difficult for other plaintiffs who suffer similar injuries to recover full damages.
Injured in an Accident? Contact an Attorney Who Truly Cares About your Well-Being
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence or reckless actions of another party, don’t settle for less than you deserve. Rather than hire an attorney in a slick TV ad wearing a ridiculous costume, speak with an attorney who has a proven track record and who can provide the strong personalized representation you need and deserve.
At M. Adam Jones and Associates, our team of award-winning lawyers is here to serve your needs. We have an “AV Preeminent” rating from Avvo.com (the highest possible rating), and we have been listed among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Alabama every year since 2007. We routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large corporations and their insurance companies in personal injury cases, and we always work hard to secure full compensation for our clients. If the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith and offer a fair and reasonable settlement, we are always ready and able to aggressively advocate for your rights in court.
Toschedule a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys,call our office today at 334-699-5599, or send us a messagethrough our online contact form.