Before hiring an attorney for an injury, or if you’ve lost a loved one, it’s important that you take a look and know a few things about the contract that you’re about to sign. It’s important to protect yourself, to make sure you don’t lose money, and also to make sure you get the best representation possible.
Personal Injury Contingency Fees – What is reasonable?
The first thing that you want to take a look at is the percentage that the attorney’s charging. A common percentage is 33.3% before filing a lawsuit, 40% after filing a lawsuit. Some attorneys also charge an additional percentage if the case goes to trial or appeal.
What you want to look out for is if your percentages go up for other things in the case, for example, mediation. If you see that ask the attorney why is the fee increasing for mediation. A mediation is more of an informal proceeding where the parties attempt to settle the case with the help of a retired judge or a lawyer who’s respected in the community, as opposed to a trial where the amount of work involved is extensive and the attorney has to do a lot of work to prepare, bring witnesses, prepare evidence, things like that. A lot of cases settle at mediation, so ask your attorney why are they charging more or why is the percentage increasing for this standard part of litigation.
Guarantee Regarding Percentage Net Result
Another thing to ask about is whether the attorney makes any sort of guarantee or promise regarding the net result to you. The attorney should not make a promise monetarily. They shouldn’t say, “I can promise you you’re going to make X number of dollars,” but they should be able to say if this case settles before trial, they will make sure that you will get at least one third of the settlement or they will reduce the attorney’s fees so that they will never make more, the attorney will never make more than the client.
Why is this important? Well, a lot of times in cases there’s a lot of costs involved, there’s a lot of medical bills involved. It doesn’t seem fair sometimes if the only people getting paid are doctors and lawyers, and at the end of the day, the client, the person who got hurt, ends up getting a very small percentage of the settlement. So it’s an important. Ask your attorney before hiring them, “What if the case settles before trial, but the costs are high, the medical bills are high, and your fees are 40%? What would happen if I end up with a lot less than you? Would you do anything about that?” and see what the attorney says. Some attorneys do offer these different promises, which I think is reasonable.
Find Out Who Is Going To Handle Your Case
Another thing to find out is who exactly is going to be handling your case. Is it going to be a lawyer that’s overseeing things? Is a lawyer the person that you’re going to be able to talk to and ask questions, or is there going to be a case manager, someone not as skilled as a lawyer, didn’t go to law school, that’s going to be overseeing things and answering your questions? It’s important, because you want to make sure that your case is being handled by somebody that’s got a lot of experience with your type of injuries and the liability and the situations and incidents, things like that, that happened to you. It’s hard to know the amount of training a case manager has, their qualifications, how much experience they have, and how much oversight there is by the attorney.
Some red flags in the beginning is if you never talk to a lawyer, even before the sign up. If you’re signed up over email and you’ve never spoken to a lawyer, that could be an issue. You might be dealing with a firm that maybe has one lawyer overlooking a lot of people, and they’re not really overlooking your case properly. You don’t want to be in that situation. One thing you can do is to ask for an appointment or a phone consultation with the attorney who is actually going to be handling your case.
You can see, combined with all of these different things to look out for, if you’re not careful, you can actually lose money at the end of the case. You can end up in a situation where attorney’s fees, costs, medical bills, take up the majority of the settlement and you end up with a very small amount. Or you can end up with a situation where the person handling your case is inexperienced and perhaps even settles your case for far less than its value. That’s why it’s important to find these things upfront.
Consumer Guide for Injury Victims
If you found this information helpful, I’ve prepared a consumer guide for hiring a personal injury attorney that you can get access to by just putting your email down below. The consumer guide that I’ve prepared as additional things that you should look out for when hiring an attorney. It also has additional things that you should know about your case ahead of time, so that you understand the process better.
Enter your email below to get access to the Personal Injury Consumer Guide with more tips and things to watch out for.
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