Every job has ups and downs, but when you work for a personal injury law firm, you get a different dose of difficult. Demas Law Group attorneys John Demas, Jacqueline Siemens and Vanessa Hunter explain some of the tricky aspects about their line of work and how they deal with them.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Getting fair settlement amounts is a process, especially when you throw defense attorneys and insurance companies into the mix. Nothing is quite as frustrating as dealing with insurance companies – and it’s getting harder. “Insurance companies make it near impossible to get through a case quickly, no matter what the severity is,” John Demas says. In many cases, people don’t bring their case to an attorney until insurance companies have jerked them around repeatedly. “These days, you have to file a lawsuit just to get what’s fair. We stand up for the right thing even when it’s not the popular thing, because our clients need our help,” John says. This means refusing to take quick, low ball offers in order to get a fast pay day. However, getting a fair settlement can take a long time, and it can be very frustrating for clients, especially if they are unable to work or waiting on settlement funds to receive necessary treatment. “Counseling our clients to be as patient as possible is hard when insurance companies are moving slowly and making unreasonable offers,” Jacqueline Siemens adds.
Taking It Personally, While Being Objective
Personal involvement is another challenging aspect of being a personal injury attorney. This is a business that thrives on client compensation and satisfaction, but there are some losses that no amount of money can fix. “I have a hard time when children are involved,” Jacqueline says. “Being a parent, sometimes I can’t help but take this stuff home with me.” Jacqueline tries to balance the demands of her practice with the rest of her life by making “a conscious effort to get my work done at work and spend time with my husband and son when I’m home, but when everyone is in bed, sometimes I stay up thinking about what more I can do for my client or what the next step is in their case.”
Being a personal injury attorney means dealing with people whose health, mobility and lives have been compromised or permanently changed. If attorneys separate themselves too much, then they’re not sympathetic enough and are probably not the best person to represent the client. At the same time, the attorneys have to remain objective because clients need someone that can approach their case from a business perspective, a mentality that is necessary to deal with insurance companies. “It’s about reaching a good balance – knowing my personal limits as well as the limits in the case and remembering this person or family is relying on me for guidance and support in their time of need,” Jacqueline adds.
Fighting for Justice
Part of being a personal injury attorney often means dealing with the public perception that all PI lawyers are “ambulance chasers.” Demas Law Group attorney Vanessa Hunter says there can be a negative view of personal injury attorneys and what it is that they do. However, the personal injury lawyers at Demas Law Group see themselves as fighters for justice – protecting individual rights against the deep pockets of big business. “Having worked on both sides of the fence – insurance defense and personal injury law – I can say from experience that I sleep better at night knowing I am helping people. I seek justice for people who can’t get it for themselves because of how the system works,” Vanessa says. “But sometimes, there’s a lack of understanding about the need for civil attorneys in our society and the work we do to keep the public safe.” Because of concerns about “tort reform,” many laws are structured to be “much friendlier to big business and insurance companies, versus consumers looking for relief.”
Personal injury work often requires a balancing act between client expectations, insurance company tactics, aggressive representation, and compassion. “We face similar issues in almost every case,” Vanessa Hunter said. “Regardless of the status and challenges of the case, there is always something that confirms our commitment to helping the people involved. Our clients are not numbers to us; they are people that have been hurt, and it is our job to make sure the responsible party pays for that.”