A couple weeks ago, another Huntsville lawyer bragged on social media about the number of 3M earplug cases he signed. He posted on multiple social media platforms about his large number of clients and then solicited for more clients. While that lawyer is marketing for these cases, he’s really not handling them. He’s simply signing cases to refer. He’s signing and referring them to a law firm far away from Huntsville – A firm that likely never knows the client and likely never works the local evidence. If you are going to promote yourself as handling a specific type of case, make sure you really do handle those cases. At a minimum, you should probably be admitted to the court where those cases are actually pending!
When it comes to large-scale claims involving defective products or medications, you need an attorney who is actively involved in the court and litigation process. The products can be complicated. Your attorney needs to know more than the talking points to sign clients. He or she needs to know the science and experts behind the products. The legal process can be complicated. Your attorney needs to understand the courts where the claims are pending. Your attorney should be admitted to practice in those courts. He or she needs to understand the legal doctrines that can easily ruin a good case. The medical evidence can be complicated. Your attorney needs to be experienced in developing medical evidence and familiar with the local medical specialists.
Over the years, I’ve received literally hundreds of phone calls from people upset because their case went to some out-of-state law firm where they were simply a number. After a period of time, they realized something was wrong and they were not getting personal service. Nobody personally argued for them in court. Nobody personally prepared their evidence and claims. They started looking locally and then called to ask questions. By the time they called, it was usually too late to fix the damage caused by the huge settlement mill firm that had their case.
Why should you be concerned that your lawyer is simply signing cases to refer them elsewhere? Why should you worry that your lawyer is really not working on the case and the evidence? When you meet with a lawyer, what questions should you ask about the process? Here are several reasons why you need to hire a lawyer actively involved in the court and case processes from start to finish:
You Need A Lawyer Who Will Build The Medical Evidence
I’ll use a prior case as an example. I handled a number of cases involving women implanted with transvaginal mesh products (TVM). These women suffered terrible injuries, including chronic pain, inflammation, bladder / urinary disfunction, and sometimes, disability. Some of my clients underwent multiple procedures trying to obtain a little relief. Imagine a permanent device that changes your life from active to chronic pain. Thousands of women across the United States were injured. We represented several women here in north Alabama.
We actively worked our cases. We appeared in the court. We developed the medical evidence. I personally knew every client as well as all the details of their cases. During the litigation, I even took depositions from our clients’ doctors and experts. We prepared the cases for maximum value. It makes a difference in the lives of injured people and what they get from their cases. Honestly, if you are hurt, you deserve personal care. Not just personal care at signing but the personal work that goes all the way to the end of the case.
Personal work makes a difference. I know because I know the settlements and verdicts obtained by individual lawyers working hard for their injured clients across the US. And, I know the horribly low settlements obtained by other firms who simply grouped large numbers of claimants together for some big, settlement mill deal. Personal participation and work make a huge difference!!!
With large scale claims involving defective drugs or medical devices, building the case piece-by-piece through involvement at all levels, makes a tremendous difference. In today’s world, so many lawyers don’t want to put in the time needed.
You Need A Lawyer Who Will Prepare The Paperwork
When you participate in a huge case involving thousands of claimants, you will often be required to complete paperwork disclosing personal and medical information. In some cases, the paperwork can be pretty complicated. Most huge mass tort firms (from far away places like Houston or Boston or Los Angeles) will send you the paperwork and expect you to return it completed. But, they don’t help. If you are lucky and some local lawyer referred you, he may help. But, that still falls short because your referring lawyer probably has not seen your medical records. Nor has your referring lawyer studied the science and experts to understand what information is really important to your case. Again, you need a lawyer who takes the process seriously with you from start to finish. We sit down with our clients and go through each and every question. We’ve learned that this collaborative effort produces more complete responses that build better cases.
In additional to providing more complete and thorough information, this helps us discover problem issues or facts. We can better prepare our clients. We can better build our cases. When it comes to providing information, the lawyer needs to help his or her client.
You Need A Lawyer Who Will Appear In The Court Case
Suddenly, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announces a drug recall. Maybe you remember the recent FDA announcements involving zantac and cancer. Almost over night, that medication was removed from stores. What happened next? Lawyers start signing cases. Most of those lawyers had zero intention of actually handling the claims. They just wanted a referral. They signed cases and sent them to some giant settlement mill law firm where everyone was just a number.
When the cases were later filed in court, those same lawyers had no first-hand knowledge of the process. They could not explain the process to their clients. Nor could they participate in the court process to help their clients. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned a Huntsville lawyer signing as many 3M cases as possible. When I spoke to him several months ago about the court-required process for disclosing military records and hearing tests, he had no ideal what I meant. If he had appeared on behalf of his clients, he would have received the court’s orders. He would know this information needs to be obtained and produced in cases. This is just one example.
The key questions I have are this — Should you really market for cases that you are not going to handle? Should you really ask people to hire you for a complex claim you don’t intend to learn, develop, or even advocate in court? Injured consumers deserve lawyers who will appear for their clients in court and work for the best result possible.
You Need A Lawyer Who Works The Whole Case
You’ve probably figured out by now — I believe you need a lawyer who works the whole case for its maximum value. That means, you need a lawyer who gives you personal service at the beginning. After that, the lawyer stays involved and continues to work. That means appearing in court. That means walking with you step-by-step through all the paperwork and information you must provide. That means developing your medical evidence which usually involves your local doctors. Their testimony can make-or-break your claim. That means working to see that you have the advantage of the best scientific, medical and materials experts as needed for your claim. I’ll go back to the TVM cases I mentioned earlier as an example. In those cases, we studied the science and were able to develop a medical expert from one of the nation’s best medical schools who could support our individual cases. It made a tremendous difference. Finally, a whole case lawyer means you are not left to be a number or lost in the shuffle like so many other claimants.
You Need To Ask The Lawyer Some Important Questions
If you talk to a lawyer about a defective drug or medical device claim, ask the lawyer if he or she is going to appear in the court on your behalf. Is the lawyer going to refer your case or actually appear in court? This is key. This may be the most important issue. When hundreds or thousands of claims are filed alleging a defective drug or device caused injury, the Federal Courts will typically assign a single judge to handle all pre-trial discovery, expert issues and other procedures. This single judge might be as far away as California. In recent years, I’ve appeared in courts across the US in these cases, including diverse places like Florida, Louisiana, New York and West Virginia. Your lawyer needs to represent you in court instead of shipping you somewhere else.
If you talk to a lawyer about a defective drug or medical device claim, ask the lawyer if he or she is going to personally work with you to complete all the necessary paperwork and discovery. Large out-of-state firms treat you like a number. They send you the paperwork but they don’t help you with it. An experienced lawyer might realize some questions need more information. The answers and information provided can make a tremendous difference in the value of your case.
If you talk to a lawyer about a defective drug or medical device claim, ask the lawyer if he or she is experienced in developing medical evidence through depositions and experts. And, ask the lawyer if he or she is going to stay involved in that process. That large firm in Houston who receives your case likely knows nothing about your treating doctors in Alabama. You need a lawyer who prepares the medical issues for trial in Alabama cases on a daily basis.
If you suffered an injury from a defective drug or device, don’t hire a lawyer without asking some key questions. Your case is too important.
From our office in Huntsville, we are personal injury and accident lawyers who help people and families across Alabama. We take a personal approach in our cases designed to prepare and build each case for its maximum recovery. If you have questions, let us know. Our consultations are always free and confidential.