In the January 2017 issue of Plaintiff, Jeremy Jessup, a litigation attorney who graduated from University of Pacific McGeorge School of Law, chronicled his experiences transitioning from representing defendants to plaintiffs.
When Mr. Jessup graduated law school in Sacramento, CA, he was an insurance defense attorney for nearly 14 years. While a defense attorney, he did not see plaintiffs as victims, but opportunistic people who thought they won the lottery. None of his cases were straightforward. It was not easy to settle cases where one had to place a value on human life.
As he became more senior in his career, he defended catastrophic-loss cases such as wrongful deaths. The insurance industry changed, and became more concentrated on saving money by not settling quick, and saving on attorneys’ fees by having staff handle discovery and motions.
Mr. Jessup jumped ship when he decided to help individuals as an advocate, therapist, and problem solver, versus corporations who cared about billings. Specifically, he switched sides after working on a 2013 personal injury case. He defended a driver who ran a red light, and hit a pedestrian in the cross walk. The pedestrian, a developmentally disabled individual, sustained a skull fracture and hip injury. The case went to trial because the carrier did not understand the plaintiff was injured.
Mr. Jessup seized the chance to go on the plaintiff’s side when a well-known personal-injury attorney sought an associate. When Mr. Jessup went to the plaintiff’s side, he had an intimate knowledge of insurance carriers’ bottom line. Drawing on his defense background, Mr. Jessup advised that a plaintiff should let a defense attorney set the tone in a lawsuit after filing a complaint. Most defense attorneys have many cases and an incentive to settle, and therefore may not be adversarial. A lawsuit does not need to be full of battles.
To settle cases before trial, he knows today to assist the insurance adjuster with a demand package that contains everything the adjuster is entitled to during discovery versus waiting to be asked. The more information an adjuster has, the more likely the adjuster will get authority to end a case. At an insurance company, an adjuster may not have authority at each step.
Working with plaintiffs, Jessup realizes how a few hundred dollars can mean a lot. Plaintiffs may live from one payday to another. When a person is out of work for a few checks, the financial loss is devastating. As a plaintiff’s attorney, Jessup meets with clients from the moment he decides to take their cases. When he was a defense attorney, he rarely saw clients in person except at a deposition.
Read the article here.