Avoid the Claim Mills:  There are firm in Yakima, Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco that are claim mills.  These firms market like mad – tv commercials, radio ads, billboards – you name it, they do it.  The firms make their money by taking small claims and settling them quickly.  They often have an assembly line type of procedure in handling clients.  Avoid claim mill firms like the plague.  You will end up settling for less money than your claim is valued. 

Here are some red flags that the firm you are reviewing is a claims settlement mill: 

(1) the firm employs primarily young lawyers.  Young lawyers often have not gained the experience necessary to handle complex legal matters.  They may not have much if any court room or trial experience.  Firms that are claims mill firm young attorneys right out of law school, pay them very little, and work them to death. 

(2) During your initial consultation, you meet with a legal assistant, not an attorney.  When you come to the firm’s office for an initial consultation, you should be meeting with the lawyer that will handle your claim from start to finish.  If you never meet the attorney handling your matter, how can you be assured they know anything about you or the claim?  It is okay to ask the person if they are a licensed attorney in Washington State. 

(3) The owner/partner is not involved in the firm.  In the United States, you have to be a lawyer to have ownership in a law firm.  Although claim mills do have a lawyer owner, such person treats the business like a chain restaurant.  They hire someone to run the show and only show up to pick up checks.  Your personal injury claim is not like a cheeseburger that can be assembled in a production line. Injury claims can take hundreds of hours of work.  Such dedication may not be found a claim mills.   

(4) You get a letter/mail from the law firm before you have ever contacted them.  Some claim mills will request public records, such as police reports, get injured people’s information, and mail them solicitation materials.  This is a big red flag you are dealing with a mill.  Here is an article by the Tri-City Herald addressing this problem:  http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/crime/article32225199.html

(5) Your claim is handled by more than one attorney or you never communicate with the attorney.  Mills do not focus on the client.  They focus on quick settlements with insurance companies.  Further, if your claim is tossed around from attorney to attorney based on the stages of the claim, you are in an assembly line process that will likely hurt the value of your claim. Also, if your claim is trading around from attorney to attorney, it is also possible the firm has a high degree of turnover.  This is also a red flag warning that you are dealing with a settlement mill.   

Be careful and do your homework in order to avoid a settlement mill. 

The Johnson & Johnson Law Firm:  Our Firm was established in 1999.  Since then, we have focused our practice on representing injured people with claims against insurance companies, large corporations, and the government.  The Johnson & Johnson Law Firm is owned by Richard Johnson and his sons Alex Johnson and Jeff Johnson.  Richard Johnson has been an attorney in Yakima for over 40 years and has spent his career representing individuals with serious injuries.  Alex Johnson was born and raised in Yakima.  Following graduation from Gonzaga School of Law, he began working for the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office in Kennewick.  Alex has be an attorney with Johnson and Johnson Law firm for 8 years.  Jeff Johnson was born and raised in Yakima.  Following graduation from the University of Oregon School of Law, he began working as an Assistant Attorney General for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office in Kennewick.  He has worked for the Firm for 5 years. 

There are multiple reputable attorneys/lawyers in Central and Eastern Washington State that can represent you.  We know you have options.  You do not have to hire our firm; however, we want you to make good decisions in the selection of your attorney to avoid bad outcomes and sore feeling in the end.  Best of Luck!  Johnson and Johnson Law Firm – Yakima, Sunnyside, Tri-Cities (West Richland, Richland, Kennewick, Pasco).