I read an article from the Thomaston Times in Thomaston, Georgia this morning. At first it sounded like it might be the most backhanded of backhanded compliments, and then my hopes were dashed. The article started out with labeling a personal injury lawyer’s billboard as embarrassing, but it went on to talk about all the good things lawyers do. It ended by listing the "positive" areas of law: real estate lawyers, tax lawyers, family lawyers, environmental lawyers, patent lawyers, corporate lawyers…whose skills and efforts contribute greatly to the betterment of their clients’ lives. What, no personal injury lawyers?
The article was written by what appears to be a medical doctor. I would have thought that a medical doctor, especially one who admits to having taken legal classes, would understand the despair a person feels when they have lost their health. I am a medical malpractice lawyer, and some of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever heard are calls from patients who were harmed by the negligence of their doctor. One driver does not "put their faith" in another driver on the road, only to have their "trusted professional" carelessly drive into them. Negligence in medical cases is not only a breach of the standard of care, many patients consider it a failed relationship. Personal violation heaped upon health problems smoldering in a fire of cynicism about the doctor who is going to fix it–that might be the darkest, most vulnerable time. I would have thought a doctor would understand that. We do what we do for a reason: we protect those who have no other recourse, and who often could not afford to pay a lawyer who wants a retainer and an hourly fee.
If we have to put up a billboard to make the business model work, then maybe I should just thicken my skin and put nose to grindstone. I want to convince people that a personal injury attorney in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania deserves to be on that list.