A personal injury practice encounters all kinds of clients (some with pee-stains on their sweat pants), and all kinds of “injuries.” Since a plaintiff’s practice cannot sustain itself on cases predicated on finger-cuts from ketchup packets, diarrhea from oysters or intentional infliction of pinkeye, we wait for those clients with cases that are worth our time and carry modest settlement value. Generally, the personal injury plaintiff will fit neatly into one or more of the following categories:
The Lottery Winner: This client is overly excited to meet with you, and discusses his or her “injury” in terms of money, rather than pain or treatment. Typically, he was involved in a minor incident mere hours before he consults with you, and may even stop at your office on the way to the emergency room (unless he is bleeding). He acts as if he has walked into the regional lottery office with a winning ticket and is looking around for the over-sized check and balloons. This client usually has the whole family with him to help “celebrate.”
The Malingerer: This person simply hates to work and is pursuing a claim to keep from working. It is not really a resolution of the claim for which he is interested, but rather unnecessary medical treatment and doctor’s notes to excuse him from any and all forms of work. When legitimate doctors discharge the malingerer, this client will seek out “alternative” forms of treatment, e.g., acupuncture, lasers, leeches or some combination of those three (laser leeches!). And when he runs out of “experimental” treatments, he will usually hit the internet and diagnose himself with questionable ailments that have magically stemmed from the original “injury”, e.g., reclusive joint syndrome, adhesive poisoning, cuticle-cancer, and/or Lyme Disease.
The Professional Plaintiff: This a-hole has been involved in an extraordinary amount of accidents that were never his fault, sufficiently distanced in time, and (conveniently) never an injury to the same body part. This person knows the system, and helps move the case to a quick resolution with excellent documentation, convincing depositions, and a course of treatment with largely reputable doctors. Aside from having no legal training, this client is usually a better lawyer than you.
The Completely Legitimate One: I have never met this client. Fairly sure these types do not exist. Maybe someone else can help me out on this one.5The Geezer: Probably my least favorite client. He is generally 76+ years old with too much time on his hands. He likes to call your office once a day and bombard your fax machine with consecutive single-page faxes (usually an irrelevant note from the prostate doctor or refill info for his glaucoma medicine). You have to start every phone conversation as if you have never met and continuously re-assure him that “Obama” is not going to “take away his Medicare” because he was rear-ended at that stop sign in front of CVS. Plus, he usually dies before the case can be settled.
As always, I am being a little simplistic. A little.
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