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Judge and Gavel
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  • Richard L. Duquette

Bicyclist's Guide to Hiring an Injury Lawyer: Part 3 of 3


Every week I receive calls from injured bicyclists looking for an experienced injury lawyer. My intention herein is to help bicyclists and their families select the best lawyer. Each client has specific goals based on their case. But just as every case is different, so is every client. People need to hire a lawyer because they have a legal case and need professional help. But clients choose to hire a specific lawyer because of their unique motivations, values, and concerns.

In the many years since I began practicing in 1983, I’ve identified several overarching concerns that clients bring to the decision to hire an attorney. I call these the “reasons to hire a lawyer” because anyone faced with a situation where they need a lawyer is likely feeling one or more of these feelings.

If you feel any of these reasons have relevance to you, please read this guide for truthful insight into protecting your interest.

…continued from part 2:

What is a "Contingency Fee"?

A contingency fee is a payment structure whereby the client pays the attorney’s fees out of the total recovery. The client pays nothing if they do not recover. The standard contingency fee is 33% of a settlement and goes up to 40% of the total recovery if a lawsuit has to be filed. It's not an hourly fee structure.

How is a 33% contingency fee set? Why 33%?

While 33% may seem high to some, it is justified by the risk taken on by the attorney in advancing their time, labor, and capital resources to build a case with no guarantee of payment to them. This fee structure gives the lawyer financial breathing room to fund the next case and take the next risk. The benefits the client include:

  • Exceptional customer service from a well-funded law office.

  • Provide exceptional in-depth work product that often yields greater settlement instead of trial which leads to delay, expenses, stress and risk.

  • Minimizes caseload size to emphasize boutique handling of cases, quality over quantity.

Many times, "discount firms" mislead consumer victims with a low 25% initial fee, only to later jack it back up to 40% by prematurely filing suit. If you want a discounted fee, get the same 8% discount from intake through the filing of suit and trial in order to test if it’s a true discount. If they won’t keep it at 25%, the entire case, it’s a scam, don’t be misled. Discount lawyers offset the low contingency fee at your expense in the case settlement value.

We advance fees and costs: This includes medical records costs, investigation costs, staff, overhead, Mediation costs, filing fees, deposition fees, expert fees, witness fees and more. Financing the case is a factor to consider.

I promise to never net more than my client. Should the case’s value, or source of recovery proves to be limited. This protects you.

Experienced trial lawyers may not discount fees, but they often save and make you money in the long run due to their skills and judgement, reputation and trial skills. These all influence your case’s value and help bring it to a quicker resolution.

33% allows me to fee split with qualified associated lawyers to intensify the legal work on the front end of the case and force a prompt settlement, whether pre- or post-litigation.

What are my out of pocket costs? Out of pocket costs depend on the case. Some cases have high out of pocket medical costs, depending on the injuries, treatments, and the insurance policy. This can be very stressful for the client as they wait for their settlement, but a good lawyer will protect their client from unfair collections practices. Other clients who have the means to do so choose to pay litigation costs up front rather than reimbursing the attorney out of their recovery. Paying out of pocket costs tend to increase your final recovery amount. It's like investing in your case.

Ride safe! Ride strong!

©Richard L. Duquette, Esq. All rights reserved 2018 – LEGAL ADVERTISING

Contributors: Justin Nelson, Esq., Michael Norton Esq., Clayton Griessmeyer, Esq. * Podcast: Bicycling and The Law

The information in this article is for general information purposes only. The focus of this article is on California Law. You should contact an attorney in your state for case specific advice, as details of the law and procedural requirements vary from state to state. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship; and the receipt, reading, listening, or viewing of this content shall not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in this article shall be construed as a warrant, promise, or guarantee about the outcome of your case or any other matter. This information may contain personal impressions or statements of opinion on a subject that do not apply in your case. Further, statements of law reflect the current state of the law at the time of writing and/or recording and may not reflect subsequent changes in the law.


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