By Dale Gribow
We all prepare for emergencies in different ways. Most of us purchase insurance so that if there is a fire in our home or an automobile accident, we will be protected. We are often lauded into a sense of security thinking that we are in “good hands”, or that we have purchased a “piece of the rock” but later we find out that our “good neighbor” is not so good and not so neighborly after we have been in an accident. It is when we most need insurance companies and the protection they provide that we are sadly disappointed.
Insurance companies have recently tightened their purse strings and have made it very difficult for the average citizen to collect fair, adequate and just compensation for their injuries. Many insurance companies have received big “hits” recently. There have been many disasters like hurricanes, riots, rainstorms and earthquakes over the last few years. In addition to all of this the recession has hit the insurance companies very hard. Many of them made poor investments that have severely curtailed their financial position. In addition to all of this there have been more fraudulent claims uncovered by insurance companies. Of course they also drive up insurance rates and deplete their funds.
In all fairness to insurance companies, they have a job to do but it is not necessarily consistent with a victim’s best interest. The adjusters and attorneys for insurance companies naturally try to save the insurance companies money. That is their job. Thus, you are forced to utilize the tort laws and play their legal game in their arena.
The practice of law is an information gathering game. Both the plaintiff’s attorney and the insurance companies attorney and/or adjuster begin immediately to gather information on how the accident happened by taking pictures and witness statements and maybe even hiring an accident reconstructionist. Often the first person off the starting line in this foot race is the winner. This is why it is so very, very important to hire an attorney right away to best protect your interest and to prepare from day one.
After over 30 years in private practice, I have found that one of the biggest problems accident victims face is being unprepared. There is an old adage I often repeat to my clients and that I used in my radio show entitled “Accidentally Yours” and that is that “people don’t plan to fail – they fail to plan”.
The odds are that many of you will have some contact with a family member or friend who will be involved in an accident of some kind within the next 12 months. We all plan for other types of emergencies. We keep the name of a doctor by our telephone. We buy Band-Aids and other medical supplies. Many of us even have the telephone number of a plumber and an electrician that we would call in case of an emergency. Life jackets are kept onboard boats to protect passengers. But how many of you reading this have the name and number of an attorney to help, defend and protect the rights of an accident victim?
Wouldn’t it be better to think about who you would call before the need arises and before you go into shock? Before you are put under a lot of stress, you should find a competent personal injury trial attorney in the desert and write his or her name and telephone number on the back of your driver’s license on a post it note.
Here are a number of things to consider when looking for a competent attorney:
The attorney should have at least 15 years of experience. The outcome of your case could depend on your attorney’s familiarity with the court and insurance company personnel as well as defense attorneys, etc. With 15 or more years of experience, the odds are much greater that your attorney will know these people, and more importantly, they’ll know him or her.
Look for a firm with several attorneys. A sole practitioner usually cannot afford to go to trial and insurance companies know that. If a sole practitioner goes to trial, there are no attorneys in the office to consult with the new clients, not to mention that he or she is unavailable for existing clients. It’s just not financially prudent for sole practitioners to be out of their offices, so they are often forced to settle a case for less than true value.
Is the attorney rated by AVVO a company that rates lawyers with a 10.0 being a perfect rating ? (Gribow has a 9.7 rating which in part led to Palm Springs Life selecting him a TOP LAWYER for 2011 & 2012)
Is the attorney’s office computerized with high quality laser printers? It’s important to know what kind of product they put out as that influences the opinion of the of the adjuster and defense law firm.
What is the trial experience of the firm? Do they try their cases or ship them out? (Gribow’s office has received referrals from other law firms and handled their litigation. Gribow’s office has handled plaintiff & defense of matters.)
Ask what percentage of the practice is accident related?
Who negotiates settlements: an attorney or a legal assistant/case manager?
Is the attorney active in the Consumer Attorneys of California? How do they stay familiar with fellow attorneys and their practices? (For years, Gribow has been honored to be on the Executive Committee of the Consumer Attorney’s of the Inland Empire. CAOIE presents the annual Personal Injury Legal Seminar every spring in Indian Wells.)
What awards has the attorney received and how active is the attorney in the community? (Gribow has been Man of the Year 7 times including The City of Palm Desert and The City of Hope & Dale Gribow Day has been declared 4 times. Gribow has also been prominently listed in Palm Springs Life’s TOP LAWYER edition for the last 3 years.)
Is the attorney listed in “Who’s Who in American Law?” If you are not sure look the attorney up and or Google him. (Gribow has received biographical recognition in over 50 Who’s Who and related listings.)
Has the attorney had the experience sitting as a Judge Pro Tem or as an arbitrator/mediator? (Gribow shares that some of the greatest insights into the law come from sitting as a Judge Pro Tem or as an arbitrator/mediator and hearing two advocates arguing a case and then evaluating the facts and seeing what is missing.)
Does the firm subscribe to “Jury Verdict’s Weekly”? If not, they don’t try cases.
I am happy to say that the Law Offices of Dale S. Gribow, P.C. measures up to the scrutiny as set forth in the checklist above. However, ours is not the only good office in the desert. There are lots of good attorneys, but they are difficult for the lay person to find. This is why you should start looking before the need arises…and not in the yellow pages. You should not be the victim of a bad attorney after you have been the victim of an accident. You should get fair, adequate and just compensation for your pain and suffering.