God/dess bless you, Mark Romano.
I am a personal injury paralegal in the state of New York, working on the side of the injured. I was drawn to my career a long time ago when I was severely injured in an accident (not a car accident). My jaw was broken in four places, half of my lower lip was disconnected from my face, and it took years of dental work to restore what was left of my teeth. I still have the scars and some neuro deficits, but I would not change a thing about that experience. Not a thing.
I was already in the legal profession, and I knew I hated working defense. Slowly but surely, like you Mr. Romano, I disassociated myself from firms which acted to do less and less for people in need, and more and more for their greedy management. Self-respect meant more to me than a corporate salary. As you stated, “. . . [in] the early 1990s. . . . insurers were railing about what they considered a wave of frivolous lawsuits from lawyers who used aggressive advertising campaigns to lure clients. In 1992, Allstate hired McKinsey & Company, a consultant for the nation’s leading insurance conglomerates. One goal, according to a slide, was to “radically alter our whole approach to the business of claims.” . . . One of the McKinsey presentation slides described how the company could become more efficient if it targeted people who didn’t have lawyers. In its “Good Hands” approach, Allstate would pay those unrepresented people within 180 days, which McKinsey said would take care of 90 percent of the claims. The 10 percent who hired lawyers or didn’t accept claim offers would get the “Boxing Gloves” treatment. In these cases, Allstate would expect to tie up payments for three to five years. . . .”
I see the result of this first-hand, often when I do an intake with a new client. Many are still feeling the pain from an accident. They are scared or worried because an insurance agent/representative has “warned” them not to hire a lawyer, as if obtaining protective legal counsel is a dirty thing. It’s our right!
They are told that firms like mine are “just after their money.” They say we will do everything that they can do for themselves, but we’ll make it take longer and they will get less money “if” the claim is settled. They are told that all we’ll do is drag it out to take their case to trial, and they could lose and get nothing.
Claims representatives or adjusters don’t tell the injured that we won’t get paid unless they get paid. Information is not offered that they can be reimbursed for mileage and medication, and for daily expenses. They are not told about the importance of deadline dates, IMEs, NF-2 forms, MV104s, lost-wage payments, liens, general releases, UM/SUM claims and more. It is like a foreign language! Important information is often hidden away in the fine-print, and when the injured client says “But we didn’t know!” the response is often “Time’s expired. Sorry! Claim denied.”
It’s a lot like the old joke “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.” Not! Mr. Romano is right. These instructions trickle down from corporate HQ to the bottom-line claims adjusters. I know others like you, sir, who left their employment at carriers because they could no longer follow orders to hurt others. The most important single instruction from me to my clients? “SIGN NOTHING. SPEAK TO NO ONE. YOU HAVE AN ATTORNEY, AND I ASSIST HIM. CALL ME ANYTIME – I AM HERE FOR YOU.”
You are a stand-up guy, sir. I wish there were more like you at the carriers I deal with during my daily phone calls.