I received some papers in a slip and fall case that are both comical and maddening. In response to a Summons and Complaint for a case where a woman suffered an injury in a stairway fall, the attorney for the insurance company responded with papers for an auto accident. Here were some of the requests made. Remember, this is a trip and fall case.
“Set forth the name and address of the owner and operator of each vehicle involved in the occurrence.”
“Set forth the year, make, model and license plate number (indicating state and year) of each vehicle allegedly involved in the occurrence.”
It’s a trip and fall case. No cars. No vehicles. No license plates. Forget the stilted legalese; it’s laughable that someone could be so cavalier as to not even review the papers he sends out.
What a waste of time. What a waste of money. The insurance industry decries fraud and abuse and blames plaintiffs’ attorneys and victims filing claims for damages. But here’s another example of the insurance company’s own laziness and how it wastes time and money.
How did this happen? The attorney received my summons and complaint for a slip and fall case and relied on a paralegal or an automated system to respond. In either situation, no one cared very much about what they did and no one reviewed what they sent out. They do not view cases as important issues for victims; they are merely processing paperwork.
Let’s admit that no one is perfect and we need to understand that people will make a mistake. Nonetheless, it is one thing to let a typo slip by undetected; it is another thing to use auto accident papers for a slip and fall case. Responding to slip and fall papers with papers meant for an auto accident case could only happen when no one is paying attention.
One of the reasons that I practice personal injury law is that I want to know my client and I want to know the person for whom I fight. The practice of law still depends on personal relationships between a client and a lawyer. This type of work smacks of the most impersonal, bureaucratic practice of law.
I handle cases from beginning to end and prepare all the legal papers myself because I believe that the details matter. Many cases are similar, but each case has a unique fact pattern and we need to pay attention to the details of each case. Two slip and fall cases may be similar, but they will have a different fact pattern and different issues.
I take the practice of law very seriously and work very hard for my clients. It bothers me to encounter such slipshod work. I write this blog piece to get my frustration off my chest and to call out the lazy lawyers. We all need to commit to higher standards for our clients and ourselves.
Carol L. Schlitt
New York Personal Injury Attorney
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney. Remember, past results do not guarantee similar outcomes in the future.
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