Hi, this is Hugh Howerton. I’ve been an injury lawyer representing workers for 30 years. I laugh at lawyer ads. “I’m the best” or I’m the toughest” or “I’m a Pit Bull” Huh?
Many like to brag about themselves. Who cares?
Here’s the FIRST SECRET
It’s not smooth-talking lawyers that convince an oil company to pay a big settlement. It’s one thing.
It’s the FACTS of the case.
If the facts prove the oil company at fault for the accident AND the injury is serious THEN the oil company gets motivated to settle the case … BUT
Here’s the SECOND SECRET
If you get hurt offshore, the oil company will not want to offer you a fair settlement. They are in the business of making money not being fair.
The less money they have to pay you the more money they make. Period.
Your case to them is just an expense.
The lawyer works for you. Some forget that. It’s not about them. It’s about you.
Uncovering the facts of how an accident happened, who was at fault and how it could have prevented is the lawyers first job.
If they don’t know how to do that then you got stuck with the wrong lawyer.
The second job of your lawyer is to uncover the facts of how every way possible your injury has affected your life and will affect your life in the future. That will take some hard work to do it right.
Your lawyer must press HARD to uncover all these facts as fast as they can.
The faster the better. You can’t get the risk management department interested in settling with you until you show the facts that convinces them it’s better to settle than take the risk of a jury trial
When an oil company is shown the bad facts against them and how serious the injury is ….that’s when they start thinking about writing a big settlement check.
HOW THE LAW WORKS
If I represent a widow or a seriously injured worker I try to get a lawsuit filed as soon as possible. By doing so, I got more legal tools available to me to help my client.
There are documents, statements, accident investigation reports and e-mails the oil company must give me after a lawsuit is filed which they can keep from me before a lawsuit is filed. I can subpoena witnesses once a lawsuit is filed.
I don’t wait around hoping the oil company will throw so settlement my client’s way. You can only negotiate later through a position of strength.
The filing of a lawsuit also sets the case for trial. That’s the date that gets the oil company’s attention. Trial day is Judgment day and Judgment day is scary and motivating…even for oil companies.
After the lawsuit, the first thing to be done is each side will send the other a set of questions to answer and a list of documents to turn over. Looking through thousands of pages of documents is no fun BUT paper trails can prove many things.
After that depositions are taken. That’s where a witness is asked questions by both sides. There is a court reporter that takes down everything that is said and usually the whole thing is videotaped. The witnesses can include people who saw the accident, corporate representative that are responsible for safety, doctors and expert witnesses
After the depositions are all done the case goes to mediation. That is where both sides go to a neutral lawyer’s office to try to get the case settled. The mediator is not a judge so they don’t have the power to force you to take a settlement or force the oil company to pay money they don’t want to pay.
Actually, it is a boring, crazy and sometimes good way to settle your case. Basically, the two sides go to separate offices at the mediator’s place. Then the mediator goes back and forth between the two rooms relaying offers of settlement until they reach a number everyone can agree. If they don’t reach an agreement then everyone just packs up and goes home.
You think they would come up with a better way but that is how it’s done.
Here’s the THIRD SECRET
The longer you tell them NO to their settlement offers the better chance they will pay you more in the end. Not always, but my experience has shown that to be true. Good lawyers know this.
This means both you and your lawyer are going to have to have some guts and balls.
It’s not going to be easy saying no. It’s going to be scary.
The oil company may offer you a little settlement at the very beginning, then a little more at mediation, then likely the most money just as you start the trial.
It’s the fear that a jury will be really pissed off at the oil company and do something crazy that makes big oil write big settlement checks.
See no one really know what a particular jury will do. You can guess what they should do but you never really know.
It’s this fear of the unknown that motivates everyone to settle a case. About 95% of all injury and wrongful death cases do settle.
Anyway, there you have it.
Stay safe out there!
I hope you never need me.