Sometimes we lawyers are much maligned by the public. Auto accident Lawyer, ambulance chaser, are coined phrases. We can all laugh at ourselves. Here is a good joke I heard a long time ago. What is the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One is a bottom dwelling scum sucker, the other a fish.
The thought that we have to pay money to lawyers to assert out rights, and the fees they receive just does not give us a sense of justice. After all, in California lawyer fees have to be paid by the party hiring the lawyer, and only in breach of contract actions are the fees recoverable. So the injured victims already start out with less money than they deserve.
Many clients try to handle their claims themselves. Certainly this is possible in small claims court, but not in Superior Court actions. So we have to hire an attorney at great expense. Therefore it is important to get the best attorney you can, one that can maximize the amount you will receive, so that the lawyer fees get paid also.
But let’s think of a simple solution. Why not penalize insurance companies that do not treat you fairly. Make them pay all your bills up front, and if they dispute the bills and you win, they have to pay the attorney fees for getting them paid. Why not make them pay for the attorney fees if you have to file a suit and win, or the fees if they mishandle your case. Blue Cross would not deny coverage to so many people if that were true, as reported in recent weeks, because the attorney fees would act as a penalty.
So why don’t we enact this legislation? The reason is the fear of reprisal. Insurance companies hire their own attorneys and want to collect attorney fees if you lose. It is different for you than them. YOU ARE THE VICTIM. They are not. Victims should always be protected from additional damages. The Insurance company should always act fairly. They can afford to defend actions, you cannot. Why not make them pay for your lawyer if they lose. If you win more than your offer of settlement, they can pony up all your costs and attorney fees.