Imagine you are in an automobile accident that was not your fault. Tragically, you are severely injured.
Imagine you will require at least 6 to 8 months of surgeries and intensive rehabilitation before you have any hope of returning to work. Imagine that your injuries are permanent; the doctors can improve them, but you will have to live with some level of pain and discomfort for the rest of your life. You will have to spend at least an additional 6 to 8 months in job retraining, since you can no longer work in your job as a carpenter. Your spouse will need to find a job and you will now incur child care expenses at least until you can return to a full time work schedule.
You will lose approximately $50,000 in wages and incur roughly $150,000 in medical expenses. You have personal injury protection insurance in the standard amount of $10,000, but no health insurance.
What can you do to stem your losses – even putting aside the lifetime of pain?
You decide that hiring an attorney is a good idea. A lawyer can handle the sometimes complex legal and processing issues involved in insurance claims and dealing with creditors; while trying to pursue legal remedies against the person who injured you.
What if you had to pay all the expenses of the attorney on a monthly basis? What if you had to pay the lawyer’s fees each month? From where is that money coming? How will you pay $200, $300, $600 per hour for a lawyer and pay all those expenses involved in pursuing your claims?
Most companies or workers get paid whether they are successful or unsuccessful. Let’s face it, the CEO failure rate is pretty high and creative accounting is not always enough to carry the day for CEO’s and their Board of Directors. Although they may get fired, those people and companies get paid even when they fail.
Trial lawyers, however, usually get paid only if they ARE successful.
Enter the mantras: “No Fee Guarantee” – “You Owe Nothing Unless We Win Your Case” – “You Owe No Fee Unless We Get You Money” – and so on and so on.
What these sloganeers mean is they represent clients under contingent fee contracts. The attorney agrees that he or she will not receive a fee except as a percentage of the ultimate collection the client makes. In addition, the lawyer or law firm usually agrees to carry all the expenses associated with prosecuting the client’s claims.
Our firm mostly represents clients under a contingent fee type of contract; just as most lawyers in Florida do who handle personal injury types of cases. We also front the costs incurred on behalf of our clients and carry those costs, interest free, during the entire time it takes to pursue our client’s claims. It is only when we are ultimately successful in collecting monies for our client that we are paid our fees and reimbursed our costs.
Why do we represent clients under a contingency fee contract?
Our clients would never be able to get to the courthouse steps if they could not hire lawyers who would wait to be paid their fees and costs. Courts are clogged with corporate litigation, foreclosures and criminal cases. Insurance companies understand the value to their bottom lines for the slowest possible payment of money. Some cases can take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs to ultimately win for our clients.
Imagine if our clients, already battling injury and financial crisis, had to receive a bill every month from their attorneys?
Imagine that a victim of someone else’s negligence was required to pay thousands of dollars in attorneys fees and costs each year simply to collect money for injuries caused by someone else or by a Super conglomerate?
That is the primary reason that contingency fee agreements were adopted by lawyers and embraced by people in tough spots who would otherwise be at the whim of insurance companies or corporate moguls.
So, any lawyer can handle a case under a contingency fee/cost agreement, right? Not necessarily.
Optimally, what a wronged person needs in a lawyer or law firm with the financial strength to be able to stand toe-to-toe with insurance companies and corporations who have big wallets and can out spend most plaintiffs. A client needs a lawyer who will not be motivated to settle their case for less than its fair value simply because the expenses are becoming significant.
In addition to financial strength, what should you look for in an attorney to represent you?
- A track history of success. Its no different than anything else, you want someone who has “been there and done it” – successfully.
- Experience handling cases in the courtroom. You want a trial lawyer for whom insurance companies and corporations have a healthy amount of respect for their ability.
- A team capable of supporting the lawyer in their handling of the type of case you have. The attorney is only a part of the equation for being able to efficiently handle complex cases.
- Board certifications, awards of recognition, and honors for superior accomplishments in the law. These demonstrate acknowledgment of the attorneys ability by groups who have no ulterior motive for giving the recognition.
- A lawyer with good educational background. Quality schools still mean something. Attorneys who were successful in making it through the law schools with reputations for being challenging are accustomed to the fight.
A client needs a lawyer or law firm with the strength to stand up for the client and level the playing field with the largest corporate behemoths.