Interviewer: What's the mindset of people that call you? By the time people call you, what have they been through and what are they thinking? What do you hear from them?
Guy S. DiMartino: Over the years, I have worked for firms that did a lot of advertising. A lot of times the callers from billboards and TV ads say, “I want my money”. That's the way they've been indoctrinated. I do not find enjoyment working with folks who have these expectations. The clients that I enjoy helping are those who did not think about hiring a lawyer immediately, instead, these clients only think about hiring a lawyer after an insurance adjuster made them feel uncomfortable or they learn that their injuries are more severe then initially thought.
It is Necessary for an Attorney to Counsel Their Clients towards Realistic Expectations
Interviewer: How do you go through the process of changing someone's expectations like that to become more realistic?
Guy S. DiMartino: Once we have received the initial information including the accident report and general insurance information, we are in a position to discuss the facts of the case and we explain the entire process to the client.
People React Differently When they Realize that their Expectations are Unmet
Interviewer: Do you see people are just very disappointed and a lot of them don't want to go through that or what reactions do people have when they find out it's not going to be as rosy as they thought?
Guy S. DiMartino: It depends upon the person. A lot of people are appreciative that you're upfront with them and honest with them and then, there are those who'll just say, “you're not the lawyer for me”, because they want to go and find somebody else to sell them the bill of goods.
It is the Client's Decision to Settle or Litigate a Personal Injury Claim
Interviewer: Why do most of these cases settle and not go to trial? Is it just that people are happy with the result they'll get in settlement or they just don't have a good enough case to go to trial?
Guy S. DiMartino: All the great lawyers say that you're supposed to settle your bad cases and try your good cases but as lawyers, it's not our call to settle a case or to try a case, it's always our client's call. Lawyers are counselors at law. We take the facts and evidence that we develop, apply these facts to the law and give the client our recommendations. The only thing that we can do is we can give them the pros and the cons and we can give them, what we think the end result will be. So, with the really good cases, the insurance company wants to settle the case because it wants the case to be over. With the really bad cases for the plaintiff or the injured person, the injured person wants to settle the case because they don't want to take the risk of going to trial. If they take the risk of going to trial, and the jury doesn't agree with their position, they are going to get nothing.
Personal Injury Lawyers Share the Risk with Clients because Personal Injury Claims are Handled on a Contingency Basis
A lot of times the lawyer doesn't want to take the risk or the lawyer wants the client to understand the risk because it's the lawyer's money that is invested in the case. Most personal injury cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means that there is no attorney's fees if there is no recovery. If the lawyer is going to put $15,000 out to try a case where the client might get $10,000, the client is going to be upside down even if the client gets the whole $10,000. Even though the lawyer advances the costs associated with taking a case to trial, in the end, the costs are the client's costs. When there is a recovery, the lawyer's costs are going to be paid back first. So, the cases that go to trial go to trial for two reasons: First, there is a dispute over liability, and the parties need the jury to determine who is responsible for the accident. Second, there is a dispute over causation, whether the accident or some underlying or past medical problem caused the injuries.