At a recent party for a retiring judge a Chattanooga lawyer came up to me and commented about an experience that he recently had with one of Chattanooga’s self-promoting television advertising law firms.
He had previously represented a daughter of a relative whose father had been killed in an accident in another state and her sister seriously injured.
The Chattanooga attorney represented that the decedent father was 59 years of age making $90,000 a year at this place of employment. The sister had over $300,000 in special damages (medical, lost wages and percentage of disability).
According to the Chattanooga attorney the television advertising law firm settled the case for a total amount of 1 million dollars minus the 1/3 attorneys fee which is totally inadequate unless there us limited insurance available or there is a question of comparative fault on the part of the driver of the decedents car which would reduce the liability of the vehicle at fault.
When the Chattanooga attorney asked why he was not considered to handle the accident case the response from their client was that the television advertising lawyers claimed they were “experts” in handling this type of case.
Without divulging the name of the law firm it is common knowledge that the lawyers are not experts, have been in trouble with the Board of Professional Responsibility for misconduct in handling clients funds and have never been elected to a membership in any organization based on qualifications or approval of judges or opposing counsel.
Here are some possible explanations to consider:
- If the defendant only had 1 million in liability insurance coverage limits and there was questions of the decedents driver being at some fault then the 1 million dollar settlement may be reasonable;
- If the defendant had over 1 million dollars in liability insurance coverage limits and there was not any contributory fault by the decedents driver then the 1 million would possibly be totally insufficient to adequately recover full compensation for the injured parties;
- If the advertising law firm represented both plaintiff parties (decedent and other plaintiff) there may have been an ethical violation in the joint representation of both.
It is recommended that injured parties or their family or friends thoroughly investigate the background of any attorneys that they are considering hiring on any important legal matter that involved representation of important legal rights.
Selection of an attorney should not be made on the basis of glitzy television, radio or website ads that may exaggerate on the captive of a firm or attorneys ability.
Remember: There ads cost money and there is pressure to resolve cases to cover the costs. What is at stake is the best interest of the clients!