Minnesota personal injury attorney James Heuer talks about the significance of a lawyer.
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When I started in law school and got my law clerk job the law firm I worked for owned a couple of insurance companies and one of the insurance companies handled motorcycle claims. And I was into my first year of law school and I remember the lawyer whose name was Jim said, “Hey, I want you to take this check to Stillwater. I don’t want you to give this to the lady until she signs.” It was a check for $5,000.00. I think back then my tuition in law school was less than $5,000.00 so that was a huge amount of money.
So I went out and this nice lady had been riding on the back of a motorcycle with her boyfriend. He laid the bike down and she got significantly hurt and they said would you like $5,000.00 and she said sure. And so I went out at their direction and she signed the release, I brought it back to the office, and they literally popped a bottle of champagne because without a lawyer they settled the case for a tenth of what it was worth. Easily in 1975, it was worth $50,000.00 and they got her to settle for $5,000.00.
So the reason you have your own attorney and in all my years I’ve taken one case by the hour but everything else is always been a contingency fee and we don’t charge you a fee unless we make a recovery so it would be silly not to consult with a lawyer. One of the big insurance companies even did a study and they used to be very aggressive trying to get people to settle their cases without a lawyer.
Their own study after they got stopped by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising and practicing law without a license it showed that people who have lawyers will get three times as much as if they don’t. So if the insurance company was offering you 10 grand that means that if you had a lawyer, the insurance company statistic showed that you’d get $30,000. So if you pay the typical one-third fee that means with a lawyer your chances of doubling what you would have got without a lawyer.
So it would be silly for someone to, I mean I don’t fix my own plumbing, I don’t handle my own carpentry, I mean everybody’s got their thing in life that they do I happen to be a lawyer so I mean I try and help people with those problem. But I think it would be silly for someone to try and handle a case on their own.