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Making “small” auto accident cases into big ones

April 14, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten to discuss increasing the value of motor vehicle crash injuries at the American Association for Justice Jazz Fest Seminar on April 20

Attorney Steve Gursten speaks during the AAJ 2016 Jazz Fest.
Attorney Steve Gursten speaks during the AAJ 2016 Jazz Fest.

On April 20, I’ll be presenting during the American Association for Justice Jazz Fest Seminar in New Orleans. My topic is “Making Small Auto Accident Cases into Big Auto Accident Cases.” I’ll outline some of the mistakes that lawyers make in recognizing serious injuries, in lawsuits and at trial; and how we can all do a better job of helping seriously injured car accident victims get the legal compensation they truly deserve.

Let me be clear. Most of these “small” auto accident cases are because of bad lawyering, and have nothing to do with the underlying value of the personal injuries that a person has suffered.

And there’s no  “easy” or magical way for attorneys to instantly add more money to the value of these cases.

It takes an investment of time that many lawyers are unwilling to make. And it requires something else that’s all too rare these days – for attorneys to truly care for their clients. It takes hundreds of hours of trial preparation. It takes years of learning the medicine, and recognizing when – as happens frequently these days – a serious injury is missed or under-treated in our managed care world of health insurance.

There are certainly many “unforced errors” that attorneys and accident victims make as well, that can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars from an injury settlement.

For example, beware the client who commits what can be “deadly” mistakes in car accident lawsuits:

  • Who fails to treat or stops treating, despite doctor’s orders of medical necessity of care.
  • Who gives inaccurate medical history or fails to mention prior auto accidents or injuries.
  • Who uses social media.
  • Who is not prepared by her attorney for an independent medical examination or discovery deposition.
  • Who is not properly filling out auto No Fault forms, such as for lost wages, replacement services,  or attendant care.
  • Who gets “caught”  on surveillance while claiming a disability.

Here are a few other things I plan to cover during my seminar talk:

  • Lessons from the Allstate “MIST” wars of the 1990s, and what personal injury attorneys can do to increase the value of auto accident settlements in the age of “Colossus.”
  • The real value of low-impact, soft tissue car accident cases.
  • How to make your client likeable, credible and worthy of help from a jury.
  • Proving other injuries such as fatigue, chronic pain syndrome and traumatic brain injury.
  • The importance of communicating with your clients to prevent unnecessary and costly errors and plug holes and red flags that insurance defense attorneys will seize upon.

And a little more about the conference:  The AAJ’s annual Jazz Fest Seminar provides attorneys with the latest courtroom litigation strategies for representing victims of motor vehicle and trucking collisions. New to the agenda this year is bus collisions. A faculty of experienced trial lawyers and consultants will offer advanced tools and tactics for your next case.

The American Association for Justice is the nation’s largest association of advocates serving the needs of personal injury victims, with more than 50,000 lawyer members. I’m an Executive Board Member and will be Chair-elect of the AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Group, and a Past-President of the AAJ Truck Accident Litigation Group. Last month, I presented a national AAJ Webinar on “Proving Damages in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases.”

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