For certain insurance claims, a Public Adjuster may be a more appropriate than an attorney. See this letter from Bill Cook, a Public Adjuster, who explains why and when.

                            HOW TO GET AN ATTORNEY

	Conditions differ in everyone's situation, but the the most
	reliable way I know is to contact The American Trial Lawyers
	Association (ATLA).  There is a division in your State, and
	the phone number is in the phone book.

	Call them.  Tell them as briefly as possible, where you
	are, geographically, the nature of your case/injury and ask
	for a reference.

	The nature of your case is described by, for example "personal
	injury" and what the cause of that injury was: motor vehicle,
	slip-and-fall or other type of negligence.

	The people in your State's division of ATLA will give you up
	to three references.  You can have a very good degree of confidence
	in these recommendations.  Now what do you do?

	Write out a brief outline (try to keep it under 4 pages) of the
	important facts of your case in chronological order, and use this
	as the substance of a letter to each of the three attorneys.

	In each letter, tell that you were referred by ATLA in looking
	for an attorney, include all your contact information, the outline
	and ask if they would review the outline, and whether they might
	be interested in your case.  Also say that if you haven't heard
	from them in two weeks that you will call them.  If you haven't
	heard, do call.

	Not all attorneys will be interested in your case.  Don't take it
	personally.  Different attorneys will see different things in
	the same facts.  No attorney wants to take a case where he thinks
	the most probable outcome is that the case will not be won.

	No trial attorney in his right mind will accept a case without
	actually seeing you and talking with you.  He wants to see who
	he may have to put on the stand in trial.  You must also use
	this time, quelling any desperation, to feel him/her out the way
	he is feeling you out.  Watch out for a nice clean uncluttered
	office that is well decorated.  Attorneys active with cases usually
	have files distributed over the office in some order that only
	they can understand.  Perhaps the most important thing to consider
	is whether you and the attorney will actually be able to talk
	with each other and work together.  Regarding that: simply pay
	attention to your emotional reactions, notice the level of
	gentility and openness (juries don't like angry or aggressively
	behaving attorneys any more than they like it in witnesses or
	plaintiffs), does he seem to know what he's talking about?,
	does he seem *too* sure of him self? (My own attorney impressed
	me positively by sharing his not being sure of a detail and
	pulling a legal reference off his bookshelves and sharing with
	me the written confirmation.)

	When you speak with a prospective attorney say what you want
	from him.  You are afterall the one ultimately paying him for
	a service.  You should be sent copies of all correspondence
	and any papers that are filed with the Court.

	You are not likely to hit this with an attorney recommended by
	ATLA, but there are firms of unethical attorneys that run
	insurance mills.  These take many (thousands) cases and attempt 
	to sell you down the river with a settlement that nets them
	a small amount of money for each case for doing practically
	nothing.  It's an easy way to "earn" a living.  You wind up
	getting cheated monstrously and will have little recourse
	after the fact.  Any attorney who becomes at all secretive
	should be ditched as soon as that happens.  Just write a
	letter and fire him.  The longer he hold the case, the more
	claim he will have against it.

	If your gut and mind says no, look further for an attorney.
	If you hear "I'll get you a lot of money", look for another
	attorney.  Even if you have a good and clear cut case, our
	justice system may not serve up justice, and when it doesn't,
	it may have nothing to do with how well your attorney worked
	for you.

	Remember, you can always call ATLA again.  If thy give
	duplicate references, explain that the last batch didn't
	work out.  These may be further away geographically.


	You are probably looking at this page because you have had
	some sort of personal injury that is supposed to be paid for
	by an insurance company, either your own insurance company
	or someone else's, and suddenly discovered, after waiting
	long enough, that you have no insurance.

	The insurance company won't pay.  It has either offered no
	explanation, has simply confused the hell out of you by
	changing adjusters, losing papers, demanding information they
	are not entitled to, etc., or an excuse has been given, and
	possibly that excuse is you are being accused of fraud.

	Look again at that last paragraph.  That describes the sole
	purpose and methods of insurance companies.  That is what
	they do.  As some very frustrated claims handler finally
	blurted out in trial during an action brought by a friend in
	Colorado, "We are *not* is the business of paying claims!"

	Insurance companies routinely deny valid claims creating
	fear of further loss that is justified in order to coerce
	you into litigation when it becomes clear to you that they
	are committing fraud and will do nothing.

	Before entering litigation, understand that insurance companies
	will do exactly the same thing to your attorney as thay were
	doing to you - only by now, many attorneys seem to think this
	is normal.

	Extortion is the act or practice of obtaining something or
	compelling some action by illegal means such as physical
	force, coercion by threat, creation of fear, or even simply
	fear itself.

	Insurance companies, as a standard business practice, use illegal
	means (the fraud involved in systematic claims denials, and
	delays) to induce fear of further loss to self and family in
	order to obtain either the money that is rightfully yours, or
	the interest on it while they are delaying, similarly with your
	attorney (wasting his valuable time) and to force you into
	litigation, meaning that whatever you get from the insurance
	company in litigation will be roughly one third lost, after
	attorneys' fees and expenses have been deducted.

	You will also be forced to remain in a less than whole condition,
	and suffer the mental distress of litigation that will be drawn
	out by the insurance company as a matter of torture in order
	to break you or break your attorney.

	See also Extortion Theory by Judy Morris, M.D.

	Though there are laws against extortion on State and Federal
	levels, on the Federal level while I can find laws that protect
	animals from torture, I can't find one prohibiting this kind
	of torture of human beings.

	Anybody out there know an appropriate section of U.S. Code?


	Here's another I from Jim Mooney: Insurance Crime Outline


	Here is a bit of advice I got on finding a lawyer.  People are
	always asking me to refer them to a good lawyer and I have No
	idea what to tell them.  I don't keep a database of them.  I
	can barely keep a database of the Obvious Allstate wrongdoing ;')

	Going through Martindale Hubble and then calling attorneys with
	a high ranking(AV) in the same area, and then asking them for
	a referral is the safest bet.  Good attorneys know who else is
	known for doing competent work.

	And here is the online link to Martindale Hubble:

	My caveat is that this does not Guarantee you will get a
	lawyer who will bring results. The insurance industry is
	a tough nut to crack.  Also, just as insurers with the
	highest ratings in Bests are not necessarily the "best"
	for the claimant, there is no blanket guarantee.  But
	then, that's true of anything in life.  But at least this
	way you may find a Competent lawyer, although you still
	won't know if he or she is a Good lawyer for you until
	judgment is rendered. And sometimes the insurer has such
	total control, huge funds, the ability to delay, and a
	"friendly" judge, that no one could beat them in less than
	five years.  A lot of folks give up after about three
	years, which is something insurers count on with their
	endless court delays.

Top of Page

Insurance Page

Uncivilization and its Discontents

Home Page

Email me
at: bhammel AT graham DOT main DOT nc DOT us

The URL for this document is:
Created: November 17, 1999
Last Updated: June 10, 2000