The Pitfalls of Utilizing Multiple Law Firms

Posted on: August 22, 2017
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Choosing your own attorney in the State of Florida is a fundamental right. No attorney should restrict you from using other attorneys to handle your PIP files, however, there are some pitfalls you should be aware of if using more than one law firm.

Not all attorneys litigate in a similar fashion. We are not just talking about someone who might just be smarter than others, more aggressive than others, more conscientious about details than others and the like. We are talking about how the fundamentals of their law practice can affect the practical rigor of pursuing your cases to fruition in a timely and effective manner to maximize your overall revenue.

Knowing there are a finite number of insurance companies out there, and by necessity, the more claims you have on similar legal issues, the more likely you will be suing the same insurance carrier over and over again. Relationships are important, as such, even though you may have chosen different counsel for different cases, the insurance company has an eye on all of your cases simultaneously. Further, insurance companies retain data and have investigators who routinely evaluate strategies, particularly on cases in litigation.

The size of the law firm can determine how quickly they can handle your files and whether they have the capacity to handle both your intake and pre-litigation activities. Such as, verifying compliance with all conditions precedent in demand letters as well as a timely evaluation of files for litigation, phased into litigation with the deliberate pattern or conduct so as not to be directly onto the insurance company’s radar, nor too far below.

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Because the insurance companies know what you are doing, particularly when you use multiple attorneys, you need to be sure that your attorneys are cognizant of your desires and make sure that there is no inadvertent crossing of paths where activities in one case can actually effect you substantially in other cases. At any time, you may be required to sit for a deposition, you should alert all attorneys who actively handle work for you, so that you can be aware of things that might be asked of you, designed to elicit information for one case, but asked in another. Further, your sworn testimony, be it signed answers to interrogatories, deposition testimony, or other admissions, can certainly be used against you in other cases and as a practical reality never goes away. The statement you made over ten years ago, if material and contradictory, is allowable for a credible challenge.

There is a finite number of cases that any one attorney can competently handle, even in a repetitive industry such as personal injury protection. You should take a hard look at the makeup of the firm’s legal members, for the experience, knowledge, and temperament of those attorneys who might actually be handling your file, rather than just the name on the door. Litigation is also expensive, does your firm have the capital to have multiple suits simultaneously.

Reputation is, of course, important.  In a day and age where in almost every PIP suit, insurance companies affirmatively seek attorney’s fees, costs, and sanctions from medical providers, it is just as important to ask how the attorney has handled potential problems that may have arisen in clients’ cases in the past, as it is the amount of their fee.

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The attorney who represents you in a personal injury protection matter must, not only be licensed by the Florida Bar, but in order to obtain a contingent fee, must have a written contract with your facility. Any attorney who promises to split their fee with you, or feed patients to your door, is not only an unethical practice for the attorney, but is likely an illegal practice for a medical practitioner.

Just like how you can ask a personal injury attorney what their actual results were at trial and awards granted, in the world of personal injury protection, where there are thousands and thousands of written county court opinions where judges make legal rulings based on your attorney’s arguments, you should also ask your attorney for published case law showing they have won in the personal injury protection arena. How far back does it go? Can they show experience in multiple facets of the law spanning a great length of time and a varied breadth of experiences.  We have seen attorneys advertise from time to time, that they have “never represented an insurance company.” Having attorneys who used to work for insurance companies can provide valuable insight into the methodology and psyche of the insurance company mechanics as well as the individual employees. Again, because a single suit against an insurance company is not likely to be your one and only demand the company pay you more money, the relationship you build with that company, not only in practice, but how your attorneys represent you, is crucial.

Ask yourself, are all of your ships sailing in the same direction?

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Author: Philip Friedman, Esq, MBA
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