Read the interview with Ben Glass

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Intro: This is On the Air with John Melley, a compelling interview program featuring today’s innovative business leaders. Join us as we explore the creative solutions and unique products and services being developed for today’s consumers and how businesses are thriving in today’s complex marketplace. Now here’s your host John Melley.

John Melley: Hello everyone and welcome to the program. My guest today is Ben Glass. Mr. Glass is a nationally recognized personal injury attorney in Fairfax, Virginia, and Ben has recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements since he began practicing law 26 years ago. He’s also a board certified specialist, but more importantly Mr. Glass is the author of seven books including “Five Deadly Sins That Can Wreck Your Accident Case” and “The Truth About Lawyer Advertising”. Ben, welcome to the program. It’s great to speak with you today.

Ben Glass: Well, thanks, John for having me on today. I’m happy to be here.

John Melley: Sure. Ben, you know, when people hear the word ‘lawyer’ it conjures up all kinds of images and perhaps some fears and more than a few jokes, but take a moment and explain for our listeners what it is that you do for people.

Ben Glass: Well, in my practice I’m a personal injury attorney and what I do is, is help someone who’s become a victim of someone else’s carelessness, find their way through the system.
John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: In the beginning I help them deal with the insurance adjusters, perhaps their own doctors, and if a case cannot ultimately be settled I’m the guy who will go to court and fight for that client in court in front of a jury.

John Melley: So you become an advocate for them in dealing with their misfortune.

Ben Glass: Well, that’s a, that’s a good way to put it because personal injury lawyers work primarily on a contingent fee basis.

John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: That is, it does make us sort of a partner in that we get paid based upon a percentage of the recovery, so it’s a, a real incentive to do the very best job we can with each and every client.

John Melley: Now, in preparation for today’s interview I was going through some of the notes and the title of your book, “The Truth About Lawyer Advertising” caught my attention and in it you say that most lawyer advertising is bad. What do you mean by that?

Ben Glass: I’m not making a value judgment so much about the lawyers who run some of that crazy advertising with talking frogs and fistfuls of cash and screaming ambulances.
John Melley: Yeah.

Ben Glass: But I’m looking even closer at lawyer advertising to say “Does it really give the consumer any useful information that they could use to hire a lawyer?” And what I challenge people to do is to look through the Yellow Pages, look at web sites and ask themselves, “Do I really know enough from this ad to make a reasoned choice for the attorney who’s going to represent me in what may be the second biggest transaction in my life after buying a house?”

John Melley: Really, yeah. We’re going to talk about how people can find a lawyer in a few minutes but does everyone who’s been in a car accident need to hire a lawyer?

Ben Glass: No, I don’t think so and that’s one of the myths that I think some lawyers propose. The reality is, John, I think everyone needs information.

John Melley: Right.

Ben Glass: They need to get on a solid and more level playing field if they’re going to be dealing with very experienced insurance adjusters.

John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: But there are many cases, they tend to be smaller cases, where armed with the information, for example, that I write about in my book people can settle their cases with the insurance company and not have to pay an attorney fee. Other times they may pay an attorney for an hour or two of work, on an hourly basis, get some information and go and get your case settled. But no, not every case needs a lawyer.

John Melley: Is it too early to ask what kind of information people need to be getting?

Ben Glass: I think that what people need to understand, first of all, is sort of the broad view of the entire system.
John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: What actually happens if I cannot get my case settled? You know, how long does it take to get to trial? What does it cost? Things like that. Stepping back in time, in other words, going closer to the accident, the insurance adjuster has a huge advantage in that he or she has been doing this for years, they know what questions to ask. They would love to get you to sign forms to release all of your medical records to them –

John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: – and what I say is a lot of that is way too broad and it’s a one-way flow of information. In other words, they want to know everything about you –

John Melley: Right.

Ben Glass: – but if you ask them a question about the person who hit you or how much insurance that person has or whether he was drinking or not –

John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: – you’ll never get an answer from them. 

John Melley: Right.

Ben Glass: So, it’s the one-way street that bothers me and we teach people what questions to ask. We teach people really how to guard against just making a mistake.

John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: You must always be honest, but there are some things that you say or do that just gives the insurance company too much leverage. 

John Melley: Okay. I know we’re going to cover some of the mistakes that people make when they’ve been in an accident in a few minutes, but I first wanted to talk to you about a situation when somebody is in an accident you, you just really touched upon it, and they’re getting phone calls from an insurance adjuster. What is, what should the person who’s getting those phone calls do?

Ben Glass: First thing to know is that there is no rush. If you’re getting calls from the other person’s insurance company, you need to know you’re under no duty to cooperate with them. You – we teach people be pleasant, be courteous, but just because they’re asking you to sign one of their very broad medical authorizations doesn’t mean you need to do that. Just because they ask you to give a recorded statement doesn’t mean you need to do that now, and maybe never. 

John Melley: There’s no clock ticking or anything like that?

Ben Glass: Well, there’s, there’s always a clock ticking. There’s a statute of limitations, typically at least two years. That varies by jurisdiction, but what I’ve seen some adjusters do is they’ll say “Well, if you don’t call me back in 30 days I’ll close your claim.”

John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: Well, what the victim needs to know is that’s a meaningless statement. The victim typically has two years to actually file a lawsuit. So there’s no rush –

John Melley: Okay.

Ben Glass: – and what the adjuster would like to do is to get you to say something or get you to write something down on paper that maybe will hurt you later on because you didn’t say it the right way or you disclosed a little too much or you gave him one of these broad medical authorizations and they go fishing through all of your medical records. They’re looking for a prior complaint of back pain or neck pain or something like that. 

John Melley: Uh huh.

Ben Glass: You want to control the flow of information. 

John Melley: So, if they receive the phone call, how should they handle the call? I mean, be polite and pleasant and all that, but is, you know, the kind of question they’re going to ask is it “yes” or “no” or “let me look into that” or…

Ben Glass: Here’s – what I teach people to say is, “Hey, thanks for calling. I’m still in treatment and I’ll get back to you. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to hire a lawyer or not. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to talk to you –“

John Melley: Okay.

Ben Glass: “– but for now I’m still in the process of getting better, of healing –“

John Melley: Okay.

Ben Glass: “— and I’ll get back to you.”

John Melley: That’s great. And the whole question of whether or not they’ve decided to talk to them, that’s a, that’s a pretty powerful statement to say to somebody.

Ben Glass: Yeah, and what most people don’t realize is that they do have that power –
John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: – to say no. Now, if they’re getting – the one thing I’ll add is if they’re getting called by their own insurance company –

John Melley: Mm hmm.

Ben Glass: – which can happen, yes, they have a duty to cooperate. They have a duty to give statements to their own company.

John Melley: Right.

Ben Glass: But their own company is not going to just share that information with the other person’s insurance company.

John Melley: All right. Well, we need to take a quick break and we’ll be right back after this.

John:    Where can people get a hold of your books?

Ben Glass:    Well, the best thing to do is to visit our website, which is BenGlasslaw.com.  We really of hundreds of pages of information up there, but at several places in the site there's a form and people fill out the form.  We'll actually send them both the truth about lawyer advertising, because we think it's important that even if we're not the right lawyer for them, it's important that they have our book so they can find the right lawyer for their case.  We'll also send them a copy of Five Deadly Sins."  We've got a bunch of other special reports covering things such as:  How do you deal with your health insurance company; how do you deal with your doctor, what you should and shouldn't do with your doctor, things like that.

John:    Okay.

Ben Glass:    And again, we're just trying to get information into people's hands so that they can make the best decision for they and their families.

John:    That's great.  So, Ben, this is a question that I ask all of my guests, and that is in preparation for today's interview you probably had some form of internal dialogue to prepare for what you wanted to say.  And I've found that more often than not that's the core message that the person really wants to get across to the people listening.  So with that being said, what was your internal dialogue and would you care to share that with people?

Ben Glass:    Well here's – again, in educating people about how to find the right lawyer for their case -.

John:    Yeah.

Ben Glass:    -there's one, sort of five-star question if you're going to be interviewing lawyers, that you really should ask and you can judge a lot by the response that you get.  And the question is this, John.

John:    Yeah.

Ben Glass:    Ben, if I was to choose to not hire you, who should I hire in your community?  And a lawyer who hesitates answering that question really doesn't have a lot of confidence in their own practice.  But importantly, the names that you hear on that list – so if you interviewed three lawyers and you hear the same name three times -.

John:    Right.

Ben Glass:    -that's a real good test and a real good bet that the lawyer whose name you're hearing is very well respected in his or her community and is capable of doing the job.  If you hear an answer that is anything other than, you know, a list of three or four lawyers, then I would just be suspicious and my antenna would be up.  And in every case when people ask me that question, I tell them these two or three other lawyers are very good.  You should go talk to them, get a second opinion if you have any hesitation whatsoever.

John:    So that's the key thing.  If you're – if the person you're interviewing is hesitant to refer business out or let people make – get a second opinion like you just said, then that's a red flag?

Ben Glass:    I think that it is.  Now, all of the things we've talked about on this call are factors.  Ultimately, you're gonna take all the information you gather and you're gonna hire someone who you feel is both qualified, but also you feel you're gonna be able to work with.  It fits your own personality.  I think that's important as well.

John:    Right.  The website again was BenGlassLaw.com?

Ben Glass:    Right.

John:    Okay.  I've really – I've learned a lot of things because it's a whole that you just don't even know that's out there and that's one of the things that I find fascinating about interviewing people with different types of businesses.  And I know that people have learned an awful lot about these situations.  Life happens, and unfortunately things happen and people inject themselves into your life without your asking and your permission, so you need to be prepared for it.  So why don't you give out your web address again and contact number where people can reach you.

Ben Glass:    Sure.  Any time day or night they can go to BenGlassLaw.com on the Internet; BenGlassLaw and order our free books and information, and also see a whole lot of videos that we've put at the site about accident claims.

John:    Oh, okay.

Ben Glass:    They can also always call our office at 703-591-9829 and either talk to my assistant, they can set up a time to talk to me either on the phone or in person, and no matter one of the things we'll do is we'll make sure we'll get a package of information out to you particular to your case.  Or, on that first phone call we might make a referral to a lawyer who is better suited for your case.

John:    Sure.

Ben Glass:    For example, if you're not in the Northern Virginia area, well we've got a good network of attorneys around the state who are well qualified to work with you.

John:    Okay.  Well, Ben, I just want to thank you for being on the program.  I mean I know I've gotten a lot out of this conversation, and I know our listeners will really get a lot out of what you share with us today.  So, thanks very much.

Ben Glass:    All right, thank you, John.

Speaker: You've been listening to "On The Air" with John Melle.