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Large Personal Injury Firms May Be Bad for Your Case

This post is also available in: EspaƱol (Spanish)

Large personal injury firms may be bad for your case, especially ones that handle a large number of cases. These types of firms chase quick settlements. They are often referred to as “personal injury settlement mills”.

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These personal injury firms spend an enormous amount of advertising money. They advertise on TV, billboards, radio and the internet. Money is made by playing the numbers – bringing in large numbers of clients and using their volume of clients to drive settlements. These firms handle roughly 90% of all personal injury cases in the country.

You need to know what you are getting into before you choose a personal injury attorney.


Personal injuries are personal. You are not a hamburger. Your claim shouldn’t be treated like a hamburger. The assembly line mentality doesn’t work with legal cases.

Nora Engstrom, a Stanford law professor, conducted an extensive study of large personal injury law firms. She dubbed them “settlement mills” and investigated how they do business.

Professor Engstrom’s study found that these firms do not represent clients individually. Instead, these firms rely on the volume of clients to push settlements with the insurance companies (quantity over quality).

Practical Tip

The day you were injured, you entered a war zone. Insurance companies and some in the government have declared war on injured people and their attorneys. They have waged the war in the media and their propaganda has had a tremendous effect on juries and their verdicts. This is called tort reform. The success that the insurance companies have had in tainting the minds of jurors has emboldened them to not offer fair settlements until you prove to them that you are ready, willing, and able to go to trial.

Andrew Traub

She also found that the firms push settlements based on the expected settlement amount. Rather than reach fair value for their clients, they settled claims for less than their value.

She found most cases settled based on a formula, rather than the particular strengths or weaknesses of the case. That method produces disappointing results.

Cases most probable to result in large verdicts were settled at a deep discount. Most cases end up settling at a discount well below what jury verdicts suggest is a fair value on the claim.

Her analysis suggests the stronger the case, the less value the client received.

Cases that benefited from this churn-and-burn process were small claims and had a low probability of success at trial. Both sides (the insurance company and the personal injury mill) benefit from quickly settling claims. It’s easier for them that way. Clients with strong cases give up a lot more than those clients with weak cases gain. The lawyers and the insurance companies win, while the client with a serious injury loses.


If you have a serious injury, you should consider what you want in a personal injury lawyer. A quick settlement or full and fair compensation for your injury? Large personal injury firms may be bad for your case.

Contact us if you want a lawyer who will assess your claims based on their own merits.

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