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Understanding Personal Injury Law With Shane Smith

July 26, 2023   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Shane Smith Shane SmithShane Smith is the Owner of Shane Smith Law, a firm specializing in personal injury cases, and committed to guiding clients through the complexities of the legal recovery process. Shane’s early career experiences encompassed roles with local attorney Richard Hobbs and the Fulton and Rockdale County DA offices. He also had the opportunity to compete in a national competition with the Student Trial Lawyers Association. Upon his admittance to the Georgia Bar, Shane served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), practicing as a criminal defense attorney throughout the Southeast. He is admitted to practice law in all Georgia courts, the Military Court System, and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Shane Smith shares what Shane Smith Law specializes in
  • How Shane got started in the legal industry
  • Shane’s mindset when defending clients
  • When did Shane know it was time to start his own firm?
  • The early days of Shane Smith Law and how he acquired clients
  • Shane shares the valuable lessons he learned from launching his firm
  • The marketing strategies Shane favored when promoting the business
  • Shane reminisces on a highlight from his career

In this episode…

Navigating the complex world of personal injury law can be daunting, especially when dealing with the aftermath of an accident. It’s a time filled with uncertainty, stress, and countless questions about your rights and the legal process. In the realm of personal injury law, Shane Smith is a name that stands out. With years of experience under his belt, Shane has dedicated his career to helping individuals and families who have been wrongfully injured. His firm, Shane Smith Law, focuses solely on personal injury cases, ensuring each client receives the attention, professionalism, and commitment they deserve. In this episode of 15 Minutes, host Chad Franzen is joined by Shane Smith to explore the intricacies of personal injury law and the role of an attorney in these cases. Shane shares how he discovered his passion for the legal industry, the mindset he fosters when defending clients, how he built his firm and acquired its first clients, and the marketing strategies he used when promoting business. Tune in to gain valuable insights from a seasoned professional in the field.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01   You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t. Chad Franzen  0:12   Hi, Chad Franzen here one of the hosts of share your voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI. Your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experienced outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Shane Smith has spent his life helping victims who are injured due to no fault of their own. He has obtained millions of dollars for his clients over the years. He’s an Army vet, with both parents being veterans as well. Hey, Shane, thanks so much for your service. And welcome to the show. How are you? Shane Smith  1:05   I’m doing good, man. Thanks. I appreciate it. Chad Franzen  1:08   Hey, so you are the proprietor of Shane Smith Law. Tell me what you guys do. A little bit more about what you guys do and what you guys specialize in? Shane Smith  1:15   Yeah, so we’re primarily car accident lawyers, I would say probably 95% of our business is that just helping people injured in car wrecks. The other 5% is, you know, slips and falls, maybe some dog bite cases, or just, you know, the odd and weird negligence type cases that we’ve run into. Chad Franzen  1:34   So as somebody who’s not an attorney, if I slip and fall, what is the benefit for me to, for me to call an attorney? Shane Smith  1:46   I would say the first thing is nine times out of 10, probably more than that, more like 99 times out of 100 D in the store is going to deny your claim right out, they can be like, Hey, you slipped on something, you should have seen it, it’s your fault. And that happens, even even when you hire a lawyer like myself, most of the time, they’re just going to deny it in the very beginning. And I think they do that deliberately just see who’s going to persevere and try to hold their feet to the fire and, you know, go forward with the case, because a lot of lawyers drop cases, as soon as they get a denial letter, especially people who don’t do a lot of slip and fall work. They’re they’re gonna back out. And so Walmart’s denied it, I don’t want to do it and get, you know, dropped the case. Chad Franzen  2:28   If you show that you’re willing to pursue the case, what usually happens. Shane Smith  2:34   So usually those cases, so like, like other, you know, cases, basically, I would, I would say probably 70 80% of those settle. But the difference than a slip and fall case versus a car wreck case is you’re probably gonna have to follow the actual lawsuit. And that’s the big difference. Most car accident cases are going to settle that fall in lawsuit. But the slip and fall is you’re gonna have to file show that you can beat summary judgment and then those cases settle. Chad Franzen  3:03   If you are in a car accident, you mentioned you could probably settle without filing a lawsuit. What? Why would somebody have to file a lawsuit? Who would you be filing a lawsuit against the other person? Shane Smith  3:15   So you’re normally gonna have to file a lawsuit when the insurance company has basically denied delayed defend, basically, they deny your case outright, they try to say you’re partially at fault for it. And they don’t want to pay or they minimize your injuries. So they say there were pre existing conditions. So they happen before the accident or they say your treatment was unreasonable or you treated too long. So they might just make you a lowball offer. So you might have to file a lawsuit there to hold their feet to the fire and to go after more money basically to get a fair compensation for your injuries. Chad Franzen  3:49   Okay, interesting stuff. Hey, how did you get started in the legal industry? I know you weren’t obviously, the Army. Shane Smith  3:57   I was so I guess started in the legal industry. I when I was a kid, I always thought it was cool. You know, lawyers seem to make a bunch of money, help a bunch of people that were suits. I thought all that was great when I was like six years old. When I got older, I wanted to be an FBI. So so when I was an undergraduate in college, I thought that was what I wanted to do. And I was a criminal justice degree. And I didn’t realize that the FBI didn’t hire people with criminal justice degrees. They hired accountants and lawyers. And I didn’t want to be an accountant. So that pushed me into law school. Once I got back into law school, I sort of fell in love with the, you know, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, we’ve got all these rights, they got to be defended. And I felt strongly and passionately that if we didn’t defend us those rights for everybody, then pretty much they would be gone when good people need in a basic place. So that’s how I ended up looking at criminal defense work. Then I went in the Army was a Jag in the army for four years so I did a year of legal aid and three years of criminal defense defending soldiers accused of crimes And then when I got out, I ended up in person and your work. Chad Franzen  5:04   How did you enjoy doing that defense while you were in the service? Shane Smith  5:09   I enjoyed defending soldiers. But obviously, there were aspects of it, I did not enjoy. You know, and I enjoyed some of my clients more than others. That’s what I would say. It’s kind of like being a public defender, you know, you get whatever the soldiers you get, I thought it was important to represent them the best, I couldn’t make sure they got a fair shake at it. Many times, criminal defendants in the army in particular, but also in other areas, they look around and they feel all alone. And I’m not defending what they’ve done. But I’m saying sometimes they have extenuating circumstances sometimes. And sometimes they just need somebody, they’ve done bad things, and they just need someone along with them to sort of walk them through this foreign thing. So at least they understand what’s going on. And you do that, I felt like I learned a ton in the army, I really developed my cross examination skills there, I got to do some stuff I would never get done out in private practice that early. And I actually got to go to Air Assault School so repelled on helicopters, which is nothing illegal, but still kind of cool. Chad Franzen  6:18   Sure, absolutely. So what’s so what kind of mindset do you have to have, let’s say you’re representing somebody who, you know, probably did something that you disagreed with, or whatever you do was illegal, wasn’t what’s the kind of mindset that you have to have, when you’re defending that person just to do the best job? You can? Shane Smith  6:35   Yeah, I mean, one, you try to isolate it, you try to put your work in a box and leave it at work and not bring it at home. That’s one of the key things. But too, I always looked at it said, you know, if, no matter how good I did my job, if the prosecution and the police officers did their job, I was gonna lose, you know, my job is just to make sure that they do their job. And the reason I have to do that is because if I don’t make them do their job here, then what’s to keep them from just doing something sloppy and accusing us something and just pushing it through and nobody defends you. So that was always sort of how I looked at it. I just have to make sure they’re doing their job. And they’re not going after somebody who’s innocent. But also, you know, they’re not going to stop me so that they bleed over and get used to just doing things against anybody. Chad Franzen  7:23   What was it? Like? What was your kind of kind of your emotional state or your mindset during your first ever trial case? Like where you were defending your first ever clients? Were you nervous? intimidated? Ready? Shane Smith  7:37   Prepared? Yeah. I, I had certainly weighed over prepared. I mean, I had, you know, done tons of research, you’re totally nervous. I think anybody who says they’re not nervous doing a trial, probably is moved to that phase where maybe they shouldn’t be doing them as much. Because you know, you get nervous when you care. And you get nervous when you care about the outcome. And it’s a serious thing. So nerves should be there almost every single time. And obviously, at the beginning, I was scared to death, right? Because you’re like, holy cow, this person depends on me, to represent them to get a good result, if I doubt they’re gonna go to jail for for maybe life, even, you know, or for decades, one way or the other. And so I was nervous, totally over prepared. Although, can you really ever brand that situation, but I was very prepared, as Ross say, and it was fun and exciting, you know, but why are you in the thick of it, you don’t actually always know whether it’s going good or bad. It’s what I would say. Because you’re, you know, you’re concentrating on what’s in front of you so intensely, you may lose some other stuff, which is why my boss always had somebody second share with us and watch. And I still highly encouraged lawyers to do that. Because he gets to the outside, like, Hey, dude, you got to shout it down, you’re being a jerk. Or, hey, you can step it up, or you’re missing this area here, you know, focusing on here. So help is always good. Chad Franzen  9:04   So you did that for three years. And then you started your own firm. Shane Smith  9:08   For total, so one year legal aid in the army, three years of criminal defense, that I actually went to go work for a big TV law firm in Atlanta, and learn sort of how to do the one learn a lot about person and your work, right, because that’s what they did. I jumped in feet first, and got to see a tie case, but also learned a little bit more about the business and systems associated with running a practice from these guys, because they did a wonderful job in that part, as well. So I got to sort of see that and experienced that and be like, holy cow. There’s more to it than just signing clients up and sticking them on a shelf. Chad Franzen  9:46   So when did you when did you know that it was kind of time for you to you know, branch out on your own and start building your own thing? Shane Smith  9:52   Yeah, I’d say probably two or three years and I was like, Hey, this is not gonna work for a long time. Long term. I Are you looking at and you’re like, I think I, you know, you start second guessing everything you’re like, I think this is silly why they do stuff. And I’ve even told the guy who ran it years later, I’m better than I go dude, I totally get why you did many of the things you did. And I was just young and stupid, didn’t understand why you wanted to do it that way. But yeah, I think certain certain people are entrepreneurial, and they’re gonna want to go do their own thing anyway. And that was me. So I mean, at four years, it was time for me to go and go do my own thing. Chad Franzen  10:29   So what were your was your was your firm located in Atlanta as well or somewhere else? Shane Smith  10:33   It wasn’t. Yeah, so it was in a little town, basically, uh, Peachtree City, Georgia, south of Atlanta, calm, but we did cases in the Atlanta area. And that was where most of my contacts were in brand new everybody. So we operated there for many years, and then probably like eight or nine years, and we opened up the office in Charlotte. Chad Franzen  10:54   What were the early days, like, when you first started out on your own, like, how did you get clients, things like that. Shane Smith  11:01   So, in the beginning, I reached out to everybody I knew and said, Hey, I’m doing my own thing. I’ll take your, I wanna say, your dog cases, but I’ll basically take whatever you got, you know, if, if another lawyer dropped it, let me take a look at it. If maybe there’s a gap, and it’s not a stellar case, let me take a look at it, see if I can make anything out of it. You know, and I got a bunch of those kinds of cases. Second Opinion type says, and second opinion is sensitive, the first lawyers is that I can’t make any money on it. Here you go. And I took those and, you know, we hustled and tried to settle those cases out and represent clients. And, you know, fortunate, we had some good results there. And the people I’d known in the past, were more than happy for me to take a look at the second, you know, those cases, other lawyers will drop it. And we managed to, you know, I just don’t want to be like, alright, that’s 500 bucks here that that’ll pay my my secretary salary for the week. You know, here’s $300 Here, here’s my light bill. And it was just hustling. And that got got the first round of clients, I think. And then, you know, as soon as I could, I paid for a website with a guy who did some SEO, which, you know, brought in a couple more clients. And then I think, you know, that was back when Yellow Page ads were up, up and running. And I bought some yellow page ads from a small little local array. And I think, some point, I got something in one of the bigger directories and, you know, just continued sort of branching out. I was pretty aggressive on follow up, you know, if you called me you were gonna get some calls back. And, and that worked well, for me. Chad Franzen  12:40   How long was it before you kind of maybe you realize, like, we’re not in startup mode anymore. We’re kind of like more established. Shane Smith  12:50   You know, I don’t know, I felt in the hustle mode for a while, I think when I hired an office manager, that that helped. Because, for me, I was doing it and my wife worked with me. So she would do her job as a nurse on the weekends. And she would come into the office to work during the week. And we were probably in hustle mode for, I would say three or four years that was that was when I was working every weekend trying to do stuff. If the phone rang at eight o’clock at night, I picked it up and took that call. And if it rang on the weekends it did, we would take a box of mail to my kids soccer games, and she would open up the mail. And we would sort it while the kids were playing soccer, you know, kind of deal. I mean, we were working crazy hours, probably until I hired an office manager, year three or four. And that’s when I think I felt like, okay, we’re out of hustle mode. They’ve got some Predictable Revenue, we know about what we can expect to make. You know, this is where it’s at. Chad Franzen  13:47   That is that’s a lot of hustling. Congratulations to you on that. What was the what were some of the biggest things you learned? You know, I’m sure with with your experience as an attorney doing defense, and then your, you know, other professional experience that you had, you were well versed in the law and what you had to do, but in terms of running your own company, what are some things that they’d what were surprising to you are the biggest things you learned? Shane Smith  14:08   Um, you know, I would say in the beginning, the hardest thing, one of the hardest things was like cash flow, but also like, credit cards, how you pay for stuff. I mean, as crazy as that is, I mean, I remember, we started doing more advertising, and we were up and you know, our, we spent 20 grand a month, and my credit card was like 20 $20,000 limit. So and I got a letter saying they’d upped it to 22. But I was like, Yeah, but we just we’re doing this other add thing. I need you to move it to 25. And like we can’t we just bumped it up last month. Like why pay my bill every month? They’re like, yeah, we know, but we still can’t. So you know, that was that was stressful because they’re like, well, we can open up a second card and you can put some on one than the other. I’m like, That’s ridiculous, you know? So that was stressful. Just man Using the books, you know, I remember, one Friday afternoon, and I’d read a bunch of so much taxes and payroll checks and trying to figure out how much I had to pay my employees on taxes in that accounting type stuff was tough as well. And then I think, even like chasing down checks that were unclear, you know, like to providers and clients and things like that, you know, it’s just stuff you don’t even think about. Chad Franzen  15:26   Did you put a lot of effort into marketing and, you know, promoting yourself? Shane Smith  15:33   Yeah, so I, I’ve always been a big fan of marketing. Shortly after I became a lawyer, I joined a attorney coaching group, they talked about marketing and brand building and trying to do your own thing. You know, I did a lot of the, let me go out and meet people, let me go to lunch, let me go to breakfast show. At this doctor’s office, let me go visit them and make sure they know my name and face, you know, carry the business cards to talk to somebody, you know, probably when I look back, a little shark is shy behavior, really, you know, probably probably could have toned it down a little bit and been a little more like, hey, is there any way I can help you versus just you know, I am a shark, I’m a lawyer, here you go. And did that. I mean, we mailed letters out to clients, we went to a newsletter once a month, early on. And I attribute that to a lot of success. I think that’s wonderful, you know, reaching out to your clients. Now everybody does it digitally. But still, you know, at the time, it was a paper newsletter in the mail. Chad Franzen  16:29   What do you most enjoy about what you’re doing now? Shane Smith  16:33   I like young people, big checks. You know, when you get a good settlement, for somebody who’s just a really great client, you know, I mean, somebody who was who had didn’t do anything wrong, you know, got hurt. But just listen to the doctors went to the doctors, we got them better, you know, and we, sometimes they didn’t have any health insurance, they get a surgery, get you know, and then you’re able to give them a big check. And they’re like, holy cow, and they’re genuinely thankful. They’re appreciative. You know, that’s cool. Sometimes we take second opinion College, and as soon as like a somebody says, nobody can help me, what do you think? And then you’re able to help somebody that’s huge to whether those are bigger small cases, you know, sometimes those are little cases. But you’re just like, hey, you got this domestic, you know, like, that’s great. You know, you got me some money to pay my bills. And you made a little bit he goes, I thought it was too small for a lawyer. And you’re like, Well, I mean, it really is kind of small, but you know, able to help somebody. Chad Franzen  17:27   Is there a case or a situation that you look back on that you’re like, that was like a career highlight type thing? Shane Smith  17:35   Ah, you know, I had one early, early on, in my case, I had a guy who was hit by somebody crossing the street. And even when I went to go sign it, his sister was there. And she goes, you know, two or three other lawyers turned down this case, they said, they can’t help this guy. And I said, Well, I think I can I feel good about it. I’ve heard it. You know, I’ve talked to you, I’ve heard everything about I think I can help you. And then we, when we sent that demand to the insurance company and said, Hey, pass, base your money on this case, I was right in the middle of a trial as a matter of fact. And, you know, my, my wife was manning the phones. And she just told me the other other side, hey, he’s in court. He’s in court in like three days in a row and the guys that sweat and tears, they’ll be out tomorrow, the jury, we’re waiting on the jury. So he’ll be here tomorrow, you can talk to him that it goes goes, Just tell them we’re tender. The limits don’t know what that means. And what I got it, I went to go see the kid, you know, and it was $100,000 settlement, which is all the money there was? No he goes, holy cow, dude, is this real? I said, yep. And he goes, you told me you were going to help me? I couldn’t. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. Really, he goes. I didn’t think you’d be able to do anything with it, since the other people did. And then he looks at my fee. And he goes, holy cow. It feels like 33 is out, you know, 1/3 of the settlement. It goes I’ve seen this huge man. I said, Well, I just want you remember, three lawyers turned you down before me? And he goes, nope, I’m not saying you deserve it. But it’s just a lot of money. But I’m gonna live to so you’re gonna go sign the paper. He was happy. You know, he goes, I’m so glad I hired you. And you took the case. And that was it. I mean, it’s not the biggest case I’ve had. But, you know, it was early on. I was happy to get it when he was really happy. And I helped him when other people didn’t. And that’s that’s kind of cool. Yeah, you know, you know, I’ve had some DUI cases where people were hit by drunk drivers, and we got great results. And we had a lady come in a week before a subtle, you know, before the statute limitation so week before her case disappeared. She’s like, do you think you can help? We’re like, Yeah, I would have rather helped you like a year ago, but let us file it, you know, and we turn like a $5,000 offer and like $75,000 or something, you know, I mean, you know, you got some of those. She was cool just because it was right before the end, you know, kind of deal. The other guy was just it was great to help somebody you know, and then I’ve got several why is where we just helped wonderful people, you know, just great folks who got hurt, hurt real bad. And a lot of pain needed a surgery something such as that. I don’t even know where to turn. I mean, just a ton. Chad Franzen  20:11   I have one more question for you. But first, tell me how people can find out more about Shane Smith Law. Shane Smith  20:16   Yeah, I mean, it’s really easy. I mean, you know, go to shanesmithlaw.com. That’s www.shanesmithlaw.com. Always call our number 980-999-9999 I always tell people if you’re in pain, call Shane. We’d be glad to talk to you. If we can’t help you. We’ll find somebody who can. Great. Chad Franzen  20:34   Hey, last question for you. I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of advice over the years, what is either the best or the worst piece of advice that you can remember getting? Shane Smith  20:44   You know, I had one person tell me that it was crazy to spend I thank you at the time was $7,000 on our website, they’re like, That’s ridiculous. Who would need that? I looking back I’m like, like, the person making that statement was totally unqualified to make it yet. You know, they didn’t know what a website cost. They didn’t know what traffic was. They didn’t know SEO, they didn’t know anything at all about it. They’re just like, that’s a lot for website. You know, it’s ridiculous. Why would you ever pay that? You know, and I’m like, but you don’t owe anything at all bad enough. Fortunately, I didn’t listen to that advice. Some of the best advice I would say I had was get a coach. I mean, be part of a coaching group or a mastermind. You know, that way you’ve got some peers you can bounce ideas off of don’t just go live in a silo. I mean, somebody told me that early on, I was like, right, I think I’ve had a business coach. At least 80% of that, you know, of the time since I’ve been a lawyer, which is I mean, that’s over 20 years. So at least 16 Out of the 20 years, I’ve had a coach. Chad Franzen  21:42   So, right. Hey, Shane, it’s been great to talk to you. Thank you so much. It’s been fun hearing your stories and your thoughts. I really appreciate it. Thank you. Shane Smith  21:51   Thank you. Glad to be on the show and glad to help. Outro  21:57   Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

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