When deciding to hire an attorney to represent your interests, one factor should stand out above all else: experience. If you have a claim against an insurance company, you should find someone with experience suing insurance companies.

You can find this out by asking, “How many cases have you tried involving an insurance claim?”

Asking about actual trial experience should tell you a lot. Some lawyers only handle insurance claims part time. Others may focus marketing efforts on insurance claims because they see “easy money” from under-settling claims but they lack a track record of achieving results at trial. Far too often, lawyers in the insurance litigation industry will focus intensely on marketing efforts, but not on the trial or litigation itself. They might even offer discounted attorney’s fees in order to win your business, but then they may  sell the case short so they can avoid having to go to trial or fully litigating on your behalf. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” applies in those situations.

Going to trial means the lawyer will have to prove the claim in front of a judge and jury. Slick marketing materials and low attorney’s fees do not win trials—they are won by a superior understanding of the law, a mastery of the facts of your claim, the resources to produce expert reports on your behalf, and the skillful application of the law to those facts. Putting all of that together takes experience and resources.

In the United States, a very small percentage of cases go to trial because both parties can usually see which way the scales will tip once they have made it through initial discovery, and they settle to avoid the time, expense, and uncertainty. But preparing for trial, and showing the opponent that we are ready, willing, and able to go to trial, is a show of strength and can lead to a more competitive settlement offer on your behalf pre-trial. If the lawyer does not show a willingness to try the case, or lacks a track record of success, or delegates your case to a junior associate or some outside law firm, then the carrier will not get the impression that you mean business. The carrier may take advantage of this sign of weakness and offer less money for the case, believing your lawyer will eventually fold the hand rather than exposing his or her lack of experience. We prepare every case as if it will be tried, our principals are directly involved in each case, and we possess the skill, experience, and resources to do so. We do this in order to get the best settlement for you.

The second question you should ask is: “Who will be primarily responsible for handling my case?”

Many law firms in the insurance litigation industry boast of a national reputation for resolving cases and will have you talk directly with the principal of the firm in order to win your business—but once you have signed up, the case is then handed off to someone else—sometimes passed down to a junior associate or even handed off entirely to a different law firm where the person who signed you up is no longer involved. Again, slick marketing materials and big named partners alone do not win cases. It really matters which lawyers will be directly involved in guiding your case through litigation. This is the face of your case presented to your opponent. The larger your case, the bigger a defense budget the carrier will make available. It matters that the lawyers you hire will be directly involved in the litigation, and not simply delegating to junior attorneys or outside law firms with little oversight.

Green,  Klein & Wood is selective about which cases we accept. Once we take a case, every member of our firm will work toward the successful resolution of your claim. Our principals are directly involved in every stage of the lawsuit. To get a fair settlement, you must be prepared for trial.
That’s why we are trial lawyers—not “settlement” lawyers.