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Who’s to Say He or She is Sorry?

I have encountered several clients who apologize for suing. They make a special attempt to distinguish themselves from others who they see as greedy or “gaming” the system. Why is this so? Why has a stigma been attached to the idea that we should be able to vindicate our rights? On some level, these clients understand that it takes a degree of empathy for an insurance company to believe that a plaintiff has suffered and that his or her attorney is fighting for justice, not money. And, this empathy is often difficult to achieve. Given that, the lawyer is better off preparing the case and expecting that the case will be respected regardless of the thoughts or quips of an insurance adjuster. Maybe things got worse as a result of the McDonald’s coffee case, a case largely perceived to afford an individual an unwarranted recovery. The point I like to emphasize is that an inherent bias in the system, if one exists, can be overcome in the right case with the right client.

There has been endless commentary attempting to explain the skepticism that plaintiffs endure in personal injury litigation. Maybe we have it reversed? Maybe the focus and onus should be on the insurer whose insured has allowed a hazardous condition or situation to develop. No doubt, the insurers have won the battle of public opinion but, thankfully, cases are resolved in a different forum.

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