Washington Auto Accident Attorneys: Why Qualifications, Experience & Reputation Matter

When you've been injured in an automobile accident and need the assistance of a Washington car accident lawyer, choosing a qualified and experienced lawyer whose reputation is known in the community and understands how Washington car accident claims are handled can make all the difference when dealing with insurance companies – or at trial.

Insurance companies know who's on the other side

Matt Menzer, a Washington auto accident lawyer who’s been practicing law and representing plaintiffs for over 20 years in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death and other areas, says that insurance companies are very much aware of who the lawyer is on the other side. He explained:

I believe that insurance companies and their adjusters keep pretty close tabs on the lawyers that represent injured persons. They know which lawyers are tough negotiators on behalf of their clients and which lawyers are going to file a lawsuit if the insurance company doesn’t offer fair amounts in settlement. Conversely, I believe they also know which lawyers are likely to settle on the low side, which ones do not like to take claims to court and which understand bad faith insurance practices in Washington State.

I think that’s how my law firm is able to obtain favorable settlements for our clients. We aren’t afraid to say no to a bad offer or to advise a client that it’s not a fair offer. The insurance companies know which lawyers are willing to file the lawsuit and to litigate it to trial, and they will offer better settlements or higher amounts to those lawyers and their clients because they know that you’re not just blowing hot air.

They know that if they don’t offer fair compensation that our next step will be the filing of the lawsuit and that we are willing to spend the money and the time to litigate the case until we are able to achieve a fair result.

Another important aspect of an attorney’s reputation or experience is in how they deal with the insurance companies and with the adjusters and lawyers hired by the insurance companies every day. You get a reputation – even in a legal community the size of Seattle. It’s important that the people in the legal community trust your word and listen to what you have to say. If you have that reputation and you tell them you’ve got a good case and a good client and if you’re confident about the liability, they’re going to believe you.

Building relationships

Menzer says that he's been doing this long enough to where he runs into the same insurance adjusters time and time again. He told us, “While you may not agree with or even get along with the adjuster, if you can tell them in a professional and business-like manner that 'It’s not enough money to fairly compensate my client. If you can’t do better, I’m going to file the lawsuit,' they know you’ll actually do it and it makes it easier the next time around. There are insurance adjusters that I deal with over and over again, and while we don’t always see eye to eye, we know that we can call each other to discuss a case. If we agree to disagree and have to resolve it through litigation, that’s just how it goes.”

In Menzer's mind, the way you best serve your client is by establishing that good reputation with the people who are on the other side and by keeping your word. He said, “So if you tell them you’ve got a better case than what they’re willing to pay you for, they at least know you’re sincere in your beliefs and that you’re going to act on those beliefs and fight for your client. I think that kind of reputation helps serve the clients a lot.”