You may have heard the phrase “no fee unless we win” on personal injury commercials. But what does it actually mean? The “no fee unless we win” arrangement is referred to as a contingency fee. The “contingent” portion of the fee means that the attorney gets a portion of what the client’s overall settlement is. So, for example, if a client gets a settlement of $30,000.00, the attorney gets a previously agreed upon percentage of that number. If the client gets $0, then the attorney gets $0 as well – this is the “no fee unless we win” part.
A contingency fee is either a set or escalating fee often utilized in personal injury cases. A set fee would be a percentage, typically 33.3333%, of the overall settlement. If the fee is set, this means that the attorney takes 33.3333% no matter if the case settles before going to trial or after a case is a tried.
If the contingency fee is an escalating fee, then the overall percentage will escalate depending on how far the case is taken. For example, if the case settles before the attorney files a complaint, the attorney may take 33.3333% of the settlement. If the attorney has to file a complaint, they may take 35%. If the attorney takes the case all the way through trial, they may take 40% of the jury verdict award.
Contingency fee arrangements are most often seen in personal injury cases, such as automobile collisions, slip and falls, wrongful deaths, and medical malpractice. Contingent fee arrangements may be available for employment law or collection matters. They are rarely or never available for business services such as drafting business documents, business litigation, divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, or criminal matters.
Prior to entering a contingency fee agreement with a lawyer, make sure that you speak with the lawyer about the contingency fee arrangement to ensure that you fully understand the agreement, including the risks and benefits to you.
“What’s my case worth?” This is a question that our personal injury attorneys hear almost daily. The answer is that your case value depends on a lot of different factors. The main factors are:
- Liability – Who is at fault in your case? If you were involved in a car accident and you were not ticketed, but the other driver was, then you are likely completely not at fault. Other cases are not so simple. Fault can be apportioned between the parties, for example, in a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, you may be found 30% at fault while the landowner is found 70% at fault. If liability is apportioned, it can greatly decrease the value of your case.
- Medical Treatment – Did you seek medical treatment immediately after the incident? What kind of treatment did you seek (hospital, physical therapy, etc.)? Did you have to treat for a few months or a few years? How much in medical bills were incurred during your treatment? Injuries requiring invasive surgery or permanent impairment are often worth more than cases involving muscle sprains and strains.
- Damages – Damages are the largest category for determining the worth of your case. It takes into account medical bills, lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering. If your injury has had a huge impact on your life, for example, you broke both legs and were unable to work for a certain amount of time, the value of your case is likely to be greater than cases involving a nagging or inconvenient injury.
If you’ve been injured, it is important to talk with a personal injury attorney so that you can evaluate the potential value of your case and discuss all your options.
If you were recently in an auto accident and have not yet had the chance to obtain a personal injury attorney, the insurance company might offer you a settlement in order to close your claim before you have had a chance to fully evaluate your injuries and your options. If you accept the settlement, you may be accepting an amount far lower than what you are entitled to.
Settlements are not offered without an absolute release on your behalf. This means that you cannot accept the settlement and cash the settlement check without giving up your rights to further payment from that insurance company. Depending on the permanency of your injury, the extent of your injury, past and future medical bills, and any lost wages that you may have incurred, it is important that a personal injury attorney evaluate your case prior to your accepting a settlement agreement.
If you’re being offered a settlement on an auto accident case and do not know if the settlement is fair, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Daniel T. Goodwin to discuss your options.
So after you have been in a car accident, you’ve made the first step in your personal injury claim: scheduling an appointment with a personal injury lawyer. Here’s what you may expect during this initial consultation:
- Details about the accident. Your lawyer will likely want to know everything leading up to and after the accident. The time of day, the weather conditions, what you were doing when you were hit, what you experienced upon impact, and all information that you obtained from the other driver. If you have the police report, pictures of the vehicles, and/or exchange of information sheet, make sure to bring a copy for your lawyer to review.
- Your insurance coverage. Specifically, whether you have UM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage) through your own insurance provider. Make sure you bring your policy information to the appointment.
- Your medical history. This includes past injuries and past motor vehicle accidents, especially if the car accident has aggravated any previous injuries.
- Your injuries. What injuries did you incur from the accident, and what medical attention you have sought. Bring the contact information for each medical provider that you have seen, along with any referrals that you have been given.
- The effect that the car accident has had on your life. Outside of injuries and medical appointments, how have your injuries affected your home life, personal life, work life, physical, emotional, and social health.
Social Media and Your Personal Injury Claim: Part One
If you have been hurt in an auto accident and are thinking about, or are already, pursuing a personal injury claim, and are one of the millions of people utilizing social media, there are things you need to keep in mind before posting on your online profile.
Anything you post, including seemingly harmless posts about a recent vacation or outing with friends and family, might be used by the insurance company to deny or limit your claim.
Keep the following in mind before you post:
- Request that your friends do not “tag” you in their posts as you do not have control over what they post.
- Change your privacy setting to maximum security, make your profile private, or temporarily suspend your profile.
- Do not accept “friend” or “follow” requests from accounts that you do not know.
- Do not post anything that you would not want a jury or a judge to see, even if you think you have a good explanation for it.
- Do not post anything about your personal injury claim.
- Do not post anything about your medical care.
- Do not post anything about conversations between you and your attorney.
If the insurance company has already offered you a settlement, you should hire The Law Offices of Daniel T. Goodwin to provide you with an opinion on the fairness of the offer. You cannot accept a settlement unless you release all of your rights to further payment. Accepting a settlement from an insurance company is a complicated decision that is best decided with the advice of a lawyer.
Whiplash is often associated with car accidents, and occurs when the neck thrashes backwards and forwards forcefully at the collision.
The sudden and intense movement overstretched the muscles and tendons in the neck, causing tears and pain ranging from mild to severe.
The symptoms may include:
- Limited range of motion;
- Tense muscles that feel like knots;
- Pain when rocking your head back and forth or side to side;
- Tender, sensitive muscles; and
You should seek medical attention immediately after you believe you may have sustained whiplash. Depending on the severity of your injury, treatment may include:
- Applying ice or heat to the area;
- Pain medications; and
- A neck brace.
Judging the value of your case is a complicated procedure that involves a variety of factors. Your case evaluation will generally consider the two sources of damages: Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages.
1. Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are paid to compensate the claimant for actual damages suffered from the incident. Actual damages are sub-divided into two categories: Economic Damages and Non-Economic Damages. Economic damages are damages for which a monetary amount has already been assigned, for example, medical bills, damaged property, and lost wages. Non-economic damages are essentially non-monetary damages, such as pain and suffering, physical deformities, and a loss in the claimant’s quality of life.
2. Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are intended to reform the actor and deter him from committing the same incident again. While punitive damages are not intended to compensate the claimant, the claimant may receive all or a portion of the damages award.