Some are. But you would be surprised.
In almost all personal injury lawsuits, the lawyer for the person who caused the accident is hired by and paid by that person’s insurance company.
Years ago, most insurance lawyers were well paid. When I started practicing law, insurance work was good work – the company’s main objective was usually a combination of ending the lawsuit and protecting the person they insured. The insurance companies paid their lawyers on a lower hourly scale than other business clients, but they seldom questioned the bill, and if a lawyer told them that work was necessary, they told him to do it.
Then insurance companies started comparing the bills they got from lawfirms. They started “auditing” their lawyers’ bills – which typically meant reducing the bill by between 1/3 to 15%. They started “bidding” one law firm against the other, first over hourly rates, then over the total charge – start to finish – for defending the lawsuit.
Insurers started requiring their lawyers to obtain preapproval before doing things that would cost more money, like hiring certain experts, taking depositions, or filing motions. And finally, a number of companies – Nationwide, Allstate, Cincinnati Insurance, State Auto, Farmers Insurance, and Geico among them – now hire most of their lawyers to work for them full time as employees, with the lawyers representing no clients besides the ones they are appointed to represent by the insurance company.
The bottom line – there are a lot of insurance lawyers who are not making that much. If you have a full time skilled job, there is a good chance the lawyer who takes your deposition for the insurance company gets paid less than you do.
What does this mean to you? Maybe not that much – there are too many lawyers, anyone representing an insurance company is grateful for his client, and all lawyers recognize they won’t advance too far if they don’t do a good job.
Here’s what I think it means. The insurance adjuster today is more likely to rely on his own judgment, rather than the lawyer’s – although if he likes his lawyer, this provides “another set of eyes” to look at and evaluate your case. That is a good thing.
But if the adjuster thinks you want too much, it’s a lot less expensive for him to extend the case with “discovery” (Taking your statement, getting records from your doctors, taking witnesses’ statements, and having you examined by their own doctor) exploring every possible weakness in your case, get a late trial date, and go to trial against you. That is a bad thing.
I deal with this by communicating directly with the adjuster as much as possible – I don’t file suit until I have exhausted the possibility of settlement. I try to get him all the information I think he will need as soon as I can, so he can evaluate the case on his own. I try to encourage the adjuster to make a good and prompt decision before filing suit.
Usually, it works. If not, I file suit. After all, I’m a lawyer.
I’d love to talk with you about this. Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.
But you don’t have to rely just on what you are reading. You can call me, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.