What Do You Get From Your Settlement?

Good morning, and welcome to this week’s installment of our video blog. I’m Marcus Michles here at Michles & Booth, and I’ll let me give you a warning right up front. Today’s video blog includes some math. That’s right. I don’t do a lot of math but just to warn you..I know you’ve been told there be no math, but in today’s installment we’re gonna do a little bit of math. What we’re going to talk about is when your lawyer settles your case. Is that really the end, and in other words, if you’ve made an agreement with an insurance company on a dollar amount, is that the end of the lawyer’s job? And is that the end of the case entirely?

What I mean is as a personal injury lawyer, we’re battling insurance companies every day. If you get hurt in an accident, we’re battling getting a rental car taken care of while, battling getting bills reimbursed, your medical bills, lost wages and ultimately a total resolution, a negotiated resolution occurs, but the day that agreement happens, if you’ve been in this process before, you know, you probably don’t get your check. You probably don’t get it that day, and you might not get it for some weeks , and here’s why.

Many times personal injury lawyers neglect the end game. You know once the deal is made that’s it. For example, if I settle a client’s case for ten thousand dollars, and I take my lawyers attorney’s contingency of one third, that’s $3,333 dollars, leaving $6,666 for my client. But as you probably know, in most cases, there are some miscellaneous bills that have to be taken care of out $6,666. So the day we make the deal, there isn’t a the check there for $10,000. There isn’t a division made up two-thirds, one-third, and two thirds isn’t handed to the client. Instead that just begins the second phase, if you will, because if the lawyer is doing their job, if the personal injury lawyer is really caring about their client, then they begin to negotiate with all those lien holders, all the people that are owed money, to get them to accept less money on that debt. So let’s use some numbers. Let’s say that in that ten thousand dollar settlement, a thousand dollars is owed to a doctor.

Well, today the deal is struck a bad lawyer, in my opinion, could take his or her one third fee and take the $1000 and pay off the doctor and then give the client 5,666. Right? But if the lawyers’ really doing their job, if the lawyers’ really are working towards the best interest of the client, you call that medical provider, and you say “look. you’re owed a thousand dollars, but this was a compromised resolution. This was a negotiated settlement, and the client (the injured person), your patient, is only gonna net $5,666 dollars. How about you take $500 instead of a thousand. I’ll send you a $500 dollar check today, and you right off the remaining $500.” Now what does that do to the client? It puts another $500 in the client’s pocket. They now don’t have to pay a thousand back. They pay $500 back, and that $500 represents 10 percent, roughly, of their net.

Now imagine a bigger case with multiple health care providers – the ambulance drivers, the emergency room physician, the radiologist that read the CT scan, the anesthesiologist that gave you some anesthesia for the stitches you got – you know how these bills are. They’re from everybody, and at the end of the day, if the lawyer just gets the money, takes their one-third and then pays off all the bills and gives the client what’s left, that’s not a real good result for the client. And many personal injury lawyers think what their job is done once they’ve negotiated the deal with the insurance company. I say that’s not true.

At Michles & Booth all of the lawyers, every day, are negotiating those liens and those bills to maximize the recovery for the client, but here’s the hard part if you’re the client. If you’re the client, you heard the deal got done on Monday. You want your money on Tuesday, but it doesn’t work that way if you’re going to truly maximize your recovery. It’s not quite as easy as I’ve described by just making a phone call. As you know you, you’ve got to leave messages. You’ve got to haggle. You get the supervisor, and the supervisor has to get the supervisor’s supervisor, and you’ve got to kinda work your way up the chain to get to a decision-maker , and that may take weeks. I mean sometimes, in some instances, you’re dealing with Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid, government bureaucracy.

It takes sometimes, it takes months. So I have to tell my clients, be patient. If I told you to go away for six weeks and come back and I’d have an extra thousand dollars for you, you’d do it, and if I told you go away for two months, and I’ll give you an extra two thousand dollars, you’d do it. And understand the attorney fee isn’t changing. That attorney gets their one third on the deal. Every ounce of work, every hour spent negotiating those liens is at no extra charge to the client. That’s just good lawyering. That’s what being a personal injury lawyer is all about, putting as many dollars in the client’s pocket as possible, under each and every circumstance.

So sometimes, when you get that resolution with the insurance company, that’s just the first step. You’ve got a lot more work to do, if you’re a good personal injury lawyer, and if you really care about your client. As always, if you’ve got questions or concerns, give us a call. Call and ask for me. Say “Hey Marcus, what did you mean by that?” Call me and call me on my math. Say “Marcus, you’re terrible at math. What are you doing? We were told there would be no math.” Anyways, if you have comments, go to michlesbooth.com/blog. Let’s have some feedback, and will talk about it. Thanks. I’ll see you next week.


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