Hurt in an accident? This is how legal fees work — and what to look for in an attorney
If you are injured in a car accident or personal injury, do you know where to turn? Would you know what to expect financially?
There might be a lot to sort out, depending on your circumstances. It could feel overwhelming. But that shouldn’t be the case. There are experts out there who can help you during this challenging time.
And while it shouldn’t all boil down to money, financial matters are usually a pretty important part of the equation when it comes to working with a lawyer or taking legal action. For example in the event of a car accident.
Let’s review some considerations in case you ever find yourself in such a position.
There are two ways legal fees traditionally work: One way is for the client to pay by the hour and the lawyer to charge for their time.
“But that can be expensive,” said Michael T. Gibson, executive attorney and president of Auto Justice Attorney, an Orlando law firm. “Most people don’t have enough money to pay that way.”
The other option is to pay a conditional fee.
“Instead of paying an attorney by the hour, the attorney is instead entitled to a percentage of the claw back if they succeed in the case,” Gibson said. “So that saves a customer having to pay out of pocket just to pursue a case.”
When it comes to contingency fees, the lawyer is the one who takes the risk – not a person who may have been injured in an accident.
Another way of saying it? You do not pay an advance payment for the services of a legal team. Instead, they subtract legal fees from any compensation they secure you in the form of a settlement or judicial damages.
Emergency fees are pretty common in cases of personal injury and accidents, Gibson said.
It is important to know what you are signing up for and who you are working with.
Gibson knows all too well. He came into this industry because his mother was growing up, had a serious car accident and his family was injured.
“We weren’t a family with a lot of money. In fact, we were pretty poor back then, ”Gibson said. “From the customer’s point of view, I’ve seen and experienced what’s fair. There are legal fees, medical fees – you name it. Seeing what the burdens are, what the medical treatment involves, figuring out how to pay the daily bills while figuring out how to get your life back … It helped me see the real burdens. The experience shaped me. “
Gibson even has a “More For You” guarantee when it comes to legal fees in his office.
“My client, the victim of the injury, should and always will get more settlement than I, the injury attorney,” said Gibson. “After first going through these cases as a client in my own family, I realized that it was your hurt and pain that led to an agreement in the first place. So I built my company on this simple basic principle. “
If a refund is made in your case, Gibson will ensure that you get more of the billing proceeds than the company.
“It’s just a basic rule of fairness based on my own experience,” he said.
The auto justice attorney handles around 1,300 to 1,500 of these cases annually.
What Else Should You Look For In A Lawyer?
Look at the attorney’s experience, his or her practice in this type of law, whether they know the courts, the insurance companies, and the overall system, Gibson said.
There is a lot to navigate.
Find a person or group who can help you through the experience, suggested Gibson, as someone who has been on both sides.
“You want someone open and honest about your options,” Gibson said. “Some of the worst experiences people have with lawyers are when lawyers say what you want to hear but not what you need to hear.”
He recommended finding professionals who value open communication and who have a successful background in such cases.
Every accident, the case itself, the facts and the available insurance money – every time it is different. Look for someone to serve as a guide, Gibson said.
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