Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with it. I see it in people's faces every time I tell them I work in personal injury law. If someone asks me what I do and then looks genuinely impressed when I tell them, I lighten the mood by quickly replying, "Yup. Ambulance chaser. It's on my business card."
BUT when I tell people what I do and they look at me with distaste and say, "Oh. You're an ambulance chaser," it's all I can do to keep from lecturing about the ills of tort reform. Besides, only *I* can call myself an ambulance chaser!...Everyone loves to hate a personal injury lawyer. Until they need one.
You want to know the real reason I am so familiar with that look of disgust? Because I used to see it. In the mirror. On my face. Everday. I used to be an insurance defense lawyer. And I used to despise people like me. When I worked on the defense side, lawsuits would come across my desk and I'd read the claims with much humor. REALLY? You have chronic and permanent injury from a fender bender? I'd rip apart medical bills (you know, with my vast understanding of medicine) and automatically, without leaving even a little room for the benefit of the doubt, label all plaintiffs as malignerers.
But I learned something in my short year of working in a personal injury firm. Personal injury law is really about helping people. People who are overwhelmed by their injuries, their paperwork, their car repairs, their medical bills. Personal injury law is about helping clients (pardon the metaphor) to not get run over by insurance companies or overwhelmed by the "process."
I think my favorite part of my job is getting a call from a client who is overwhelmed. I don't like that they are overwhelmed but I love having the opportunity to explain things to them and provide a little bit of comfort and insight. "Don't worry," I get to say. "We will handle that." Then I feel a teeny bit like Superman. But instead of a cape, I have a $100K+ piece of paper. Instead of a theme song, I get dirty looks. Instead of flying or using my x-ray vision to see through John Hamm's clothes, I get to write 15 page demand letters. (close right?)
Today, I was sitting in the dentist chair and making small talk with the assistant/hygenist/helper lady as she waited for my mouth to go numb. She asked me what area of law I worked in. I think she was expecting me to say something grand and romantic, like civil rights or securities. I told her I worked in personal injury. And.....There is was. The look of disgust.
"Oh. Like those people on TV with the ads. The.... ambulance chasers." She replied.
As soon as she said that, I shot up straight in my dental chair. "You know, some people get seriously injured in automobile accidents." I began. "Without a lawyer, insurance companies won't take them seriously." I continued. "Even if their insured is at-fault, many insurance companies won't make a real settlement offer until you take them to court."
She just looked at me blankly. Then she said, "You're the reason my insurance rates are going up."
I was trying so hard to quell the flames threatening to shoot out of my eyeballs and ears.
"Actually...la inshuransh companeeesh are la reeeel reashun your..." oops. My mouth was starting to go numb.
I looked at her again and just soaked up the disgust radiating from her face. Forget it; lost cause....So, I zipped my mouth, sat back in my chair, and tried to fall asleep to the sound of drilling.
Next time, I'm just going to say I'm a trial lawyer.
Right before my dentist appointment/nap.
All I need is a margarita. And a beach
P.S. Since I'm the cause of your insurance rates going up, want to see where your insurance payments go? They go to things like....my new favorite dress! I bought this when I was pregnant. So happy it fits. Thank you dental hygenist for paying your ever increasing insurance rates. You're keeping me well-clothed. (I'm being sarastic in case you didn't pick up on that)
Love this dress from Boden. LOVE!
It was even 1/3 of it's original price!