Settlement Mills vs. Merit-Based Firms: Know the Difference
Contributed by Seth A. White
Attorneys and law firms have large discretion in how they choose to practice law and represent their clients. Over time, some personal injury firms have become “settlement mills” or “volume based.” The main goal of these types of firms is to gather as many cases as possible and reach quick settlements without filing in court. The tell-tale signs of a volume-based personal injury firm are often aggressive advertising campaigns and a large staff of paralegals or case coordinators.
In 2010, the Stanford Law Review published an article called “Run of the Mill Justice” that detailed the negative impact settlement mills are having on our legal system. Professor Nora Freeman found that settlement mills have become so successful with aggressive advertising, that they are often insulated from relying upon their reputation within the community or past work performance.
The insulation of settlement mills from accountability amongst the community has had a two-fold negative impact on personal injury victims. First, personal injury victims that sign up with these types of firms are often left in the dark about their case. They may have signed up with the attorney on the commercial or billboard, but they may rarely get to speak with their attorney.
Second, settlement mills have fundamentally changed the way that insurance companies evaluate the claims of personal injury victims. Because settlement mills profits are based upon the “volume” of clients, they are willing to take lower amounts of compensation. With more clients, they can take less money. In addition, they are more likely to settle for less when the alternative would be actually taking the case to court. Professor Freeman’s article notes that there has been a significant decline in auto-mobile related cases as far back as 1985. That decline due in large part to the impact of settlement mills.
Settlement mills have created an atmosphere where insurance carriers believe that the victims are willing to take less than what their case is worth, and in addition, their attorneys are not willing to go to court. That atmosphere has diluted the claims evaluation process and made it much harder for personal injury victims to get a fair settlement.
If you, or someone you know, have been involved in a car accident, make sure to know the difference between a settlement mill and an attorney who is willing to strongly advocate in your best interests. The attorneys at our firm are skilled and experienced in handling car accident claims. We are longtime residents of Northwest Arkansas and care deeply about protecting victims in our community. Do not hesitate to hire attorneys that will really fight for you and give us a call at 479-621-0006.
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