One of the practice areas in which we have the deepest and broadest experience is personal injury practice.
The phrase “personal injury lawyer” conjures up some pretty unflattering images in the minds of most people, and sometimes with good reason. But the fact of the matter is that people who have sustained serious injury do need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you watch TV for more than a few minutes, chances are you will see multiple law firms advertising for personal injury clients. While there are some very skillful lawyers who choose to approach the practice of law in this way, that is not how we do it.
Our approach is to carefully select legitimate cases in which we can offer personalized attention and excellent service to bring about the best result. Experience has taught us that because each case is unique, our clients appreciate the kind of one-on-one attention that our selective approach allows.
Our personal injury clients come from two primary sources: client referrals and attorney referrals. It is a point of pride for us (but hopefully not in a bad way) that our clients are sufficiently pleased with our work to suggest to their friends and family that we might be the best attorneys to help them. Similarly, we appreciate the vote of confidence we receive when other lawyers recognize our expertise in this area.
So, what are the distinguishing characteristics of our approach to handling personal injury clients? We have identified five things we do to serve personal injury clients in an excellent way.
1. Remain client-focused.
Remaining “client-focused” means always choosing the option that furthers our client’s interests, which involves looking at how each decision is going to affect the client beyond the case. It means looking at the client as a whole person, not just a ‘car wreck case’ or a ‘premises liability claim.’
We do not operate a high volume practice. This affords us the luxury of engaging clients on an individual level. It allows us to give each client the time and personal attention necessary to achieve the best result. While we have a number of office processes that enhance our efficiency, our focus remains on individualized attention to the details of our client’s case. That yields better results and makes for happier and more satisfied clients.
2. Respect the ability of clients to understand the issues and participate in decision-making.
There are a number of complexities associated with any area of the law and personal injury law is no exception. We have been at it long enough to be pretty good at it. Frankly, there are many lawyers who can say this. Being good at something, however, is not that impressive and really is not enough. To demonstrate real mastery, one must be able to help those who lack familiarity with that area of law to understand it for themselves. In other words, it is one thing to know the law in a certain area, but quite another to guide someone who has no experience in dealing with that type of case.
If we do our job well, our clients will understand each aspect of the case well enough to participate in decision-making in a meaningful way. We accomplish this in all of our cases by taking the time to explain the legal principles involved in a case. It has been our experience that an engaged client is a happy client and serving a happy and appreciative client is deeply satisfying. Here’s the bottom line: when our clients are happy, we are happy.
3. Listen closely to our client’s concerns.
Closely related to respecting the ability of clients to participate in decision-making in their cases is the practice of listening to clients’ concerns. The best conversationalists are those who listen most attentively. In the same vein, the most effective lawyers are those who listen most closely to their clients’ concerns.
When a client comes to us seeking representation in a personal injury case, there is a good chance that we have already handled a number of very similar cases. That can lead to the assumption that we already know everything we need to know. Allowing that assumption to guide us would be a mistake. Rather, each client comes to us with his or her own set of concerns. This idea is also related to the idea of representing the whole person, not just the particular legal matter for which we have been engaged.
We can handle a case with technical excellence, but if we have failed to address the unique concerns of the client, that is a missed opportunity. Fortunately, this one is easy to remedy—we just make sure to take the time to listen.
4. Provide candid analysis.
This is a big one. We decided long ago not to give people fluffy answers. Instead, we offer candid—some would say blunt—analysis of each client’s or prospective client’s case. We often describe this as “graceful directness.”
It is not uncommon for someone to approach us with a potential case after being turned down by another law firm. The prospective client will tell us that the other lawyer told him that he had a good case, but that the other lawyer was too busy to take it on. Occasionally this is true, but usually the client has a case that is not worthy of pursuit and the other lawyer did not want to disappoint him. We do not think that this is the best approach, especially in personal injury cases.
So, instead of telling a prospective client that we are too busy to take on their case, we tell them what we really think of the case and take the time to explain why. Perhaps surprisingly, the vast majority of these clients appreciate our candor. Fairly often, we see these people later when they have another legal matter because we have earned their trust by being truthful and gracefully direct.
The same principle applies to helping our clients develop realistic expectations for their cases. We talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the case and how each may ultimately affect the resolution of the case. By the time we are ready to resolve the case, our clients understand the matter well enough to make solid decisions and to participate fully in obtaining a good result.
5. Work hard to achieve the best result.
We could be the smartest and most skilled attorneys around, but if we do not give the case the attention it deserves, we are unlikely to achieve a good result. In other words, there is no substitute for hard work. As a practical matter, hard work means: 1) knowing the law that applies to the case inside and out; 2) knowing the medical issues as well as we can from a lawyer’s perspective and consulting with medical experts when necessary; 3) taking the time to know the facts of the client’s particular situation so that there are no surprises; 4) moving the case along at an appropriate pace, while taking the time to do it right; and 5) going the extra mile to include in the presentation of the case those little things that can make a big difference.
Our clients tend to be everyday people who have suffered harm and whose number one goal is to simply return to their normal lives to the greatest extent possible.
They tend to say things like:
- “I’m not really a lawsuit kind of person.”
- “I’m not trying to take advantage of anyone.”
- “I never dreamed that I would ever need a lawyer for something like this.”
This is exactly the sort of client we are proud to stand beside. If you are looking for an attorney to help you with a personal injury case, please go to our Contact Us page and set up a time to speak with us.
Brian Schuette is a civil litigator with over 25 years of law practice experience. He is AV-Rated by Martindale Hubbell. As the managing partner of the Kentucky office of CSA, Brian oversees the firm’s personal injury and general civil litigation practice. He has handled many wrongful death and serious personal injury cases, including motor vehicle collisions, slip and fall, product liability and dog bite cases. The majority of Brian’s cases come from client or attorney referrals. Brian is trained as a mediator (Rule 31 Listed in Tennessee) and Christian conciliator (alternative dispute resolution for churches and church members). This training has been a useful tool for Brian as he works with individual and business clients to achieve excellent results as efficiently as possible.
Upon graduating from law school in 2002, Amanda joined the firm of Bell, Orr, Ayers & Moore, P.S.C. (BOAM) in Bowling Green, Kentucky as a full-time attorney. At BOAM, Amanda practiced in the areas of insurance defense litigation, bankruptcy, education and school law and banking law. In 2015, Amanda joined CRAIN|SCHUETTE ATTORNEYS. Amanda is licensed to practice in all state courts in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as well as the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Amanda is also licensed to practice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She is a member of the Bowling Green-Warren County Bar Association and the Kentucky Bar Association.
In 2012, Ashlea opened her own practice in Bowling Green. Since then, Ashlea has focused on serving families in adoptions, divorces, domestic violence proceedings, and dependency, neglect and abuse actions. Ashlea also serves as a private mediator, and donates her time to the Pro Bono Mediation Project in Warren County for families who are unable to afford the mediation process. Most recently, in 2017, Ashlea joined Crain | Schuette Attorneys and has expanded her areas of practice to include criminal defense, personal injury, product liability tort actions, and general civil litigation.