How Do You Pay for a Personal Injury Attorney?
One of the first and most understandable concerns any person anticipating legal action has is determining how much it will cost to hire an attorney. For personal injury cases in which insurance companies will almost immediately be telling victims they do not need to hire lawyers, there is serious consideration given to the amount that an attorney will take from any judgment or settlement.
In many personal injury cases, victims are already in very tough financial situations. This makes the idea of paying any retainer fee untenable.
The good news is that The Balams Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. A contingent fee agreement is commonly described as a “no win, no fee” agreement, although this phrase is somewhat misleading.
For example, many cases are resolved though a settlement in order to avoid the costs of going to trial. While this is not technically considered a victory or a loss for the attorneys involved, it still provides financial compensation for the victims.
Atlanta Lawyer on Contingent Fee Agreements
Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed because of another party’s negligence? It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel as soon as possible for help obtaining the compensation you and your family need and deserve.
ReShea Balams is an Atlanta attorney who does not charge her clients one cent unless she gets them financial awards. The Balams Firm serves several communities in and around the greater Atlanta area, including Johns Creek, Riverdale, Decatur, East Point, Norcross, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Dunwoody, Lawrenceville, College Park, Milton, Alpharetta, Forest Park, Duluth, and Smyrna.
Do not let concerns about legal fees prevent you from exploring and fully understanding your legal options. ReShea Balams offers a free, no obligation consultation to review and discuss your case. Call (404) 445-2005 today for a free consultation to learn more about our contingency fee agreements in personal injury cases in Atlanta, GA.
Overview of Georgia Attorney Contingency Fees
- What is a contingency fee and how does it work?
- Can a legal fee be part of a settlement?
- Won’t I get to keep more money if I resolve my case without a lawyer?
- Where can I find additional information about attorney fees?
Contingency fees cannot be used by every kind of attorney. The State Bar of Georgia’s rules regarding fees clearly state a lawyer cannot enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case or any fee in a domestic relations matter in which the amount of is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony, support, or property settlement.
The rules of the State Bar place a great emphasis on contingent fees being reasonable. Rule 1.5(a) establishes these eight factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee:
- the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
- the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
- the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
- the amount involved and the results obtained;
- the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
- the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
- the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
- whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
The State Bar further establishes that a contingent fee agreement must be in writing and should state the method by which the fee is to be determined. This should include the percentage or percentages that accrue to the lawyer in the event of a settlement, trial, appeal, litigation, and any other expenses that may be deducted from the recovery. The agreement should also establish whether these expenses will be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated.
When a contingent fee matter has concluded, the attorney must provide his or her client with a written statement stating the outcome and all of the following information if there is a recovery:
- the remittance to the client;
- the method of its determination;
- the amount of the attorney fee; and
- if the attorney’s fee is divided with another lawyer who is not a partner in or an associate of the lawyer’s firm or law office, the amount of fee received by each and the manner in which the division is determined.
The percentage of any judgment or settlement that a lawyer receives in a contingent fee agreement varies depending on the specifics of the case. For example, these fees may be higher in a medical malpractice case that requires much more investigation and consultation with experts in the field by the attorney.
It is important to remember that a large number of cases are resolved without ever going to trial. In both settlements and court judgments, it is not uncommon for legal fees to be specifically determined as a condition of the decisions.
In these cases, the contingency fees will no longer apply as a victim’s award and a lawyer’s payment are two separate aspects of the resolution. Clients should always make sure that they understand how much of a proposed settlement they are receiving before actually agreeing to accept the offer.
Almost immediately after any serious accident in which a person sustains sever injuries, the victim will be contacted by an agent or representative from the negligent party’s insurance company. Victims are frequently told that they do not need attorneys.
People who are dealing with the immediate threat of overwhelming medical bills or lost wages because of time away from work can be understandably desperate to accept any amount of money they are offered. There are several dangers to trying to negotiate an agreement without the advice of a lawyer though.
While an accident victim might believe that it will save money not to hire an attorney, it might actually result in a much lower settlement. Negotiating a settlement without an attorney usually means leaving money on the table because of the following factors:
- Demanding Too Much or Too Little — People who are not licensed lawyers generally do not have any real understanding of what their case is worth. Not understanding the value of the personal injury case can lead to settlement demands that are either unreasonable or unsatisfactory. If a victim asks for too little, he or she may get a quick settlement but will also be unable to recoup many future medical expenses that were not originally considered. Conversely, a victim asking for too much lets the insurance company knows that he or she does not adequately understand the value of his or her claim and he or she will probably accept a lesser settlement later on.
- Failure to Collect Evidence — Victims do not think to take pictures or get the contact information of witnesses at accident scenes. Similarly, many people fail to keep records of the time they were out of work or made follow-up hospital visits.
- Giving Recorded Statements — Insurance company agents will go out of their way to seem friendly, often claiming that they just want to help victims get better or make things right. They will then proceed to try and get victims to be recorded while answering a few seemingly innocent questions about their accidents. Most victims do not realize that what they say or admit in these statements significantly harms the value of their claims later on.
- Medical Treatment Errors — Some victims do not immediately go to the hospital either because they believe their injuries were not severe or possibly because they have concerns about their lack of insurance. Others make the mistake of not obeying the instructions provided by doctors.
- Signing Insurance Documents — Similar to making recorded statements, victims will occasionally sign forms provided by insurance companies without actually reading what they are signing. These documents may include authorizations for insurance companies to obtain medical records. Other documents may be forms that limit settlement amounts.
- Waiting Too Long — Some victims delay seeking medical attention until it is too late. Others wait too long to contact an attorney for help. It is critical to understand that there is a very short window of time that an accident victim has to file a personal injury lawsuit. This means that it is essential to seek legal help as soon as possible in order to ensure that you get every dollar you are entitled to.
RULE 1.5 FEES – State Bar of Georgia — In the State Bar of Georgia Handbook, Rule 1.5 on fees falls under Part IV of the Ethics & Discipline section, Chapter 1 relating to Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and Enforcement Thereof. The rules regarding fees here are identical to those established by the American Bar Association (ABA).104 Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
When You Need a Lawyer — This section of the ABA website answers a few of the most frequently asked questions about contingent fees. Some of the topics addressed include methods of settlement, reduction of legal costs, and popular billing methods.
Find a Lawyer Who Works on Contingent Fee in the Atlanta Area
If you sustained serious injuries or your loved one was killed as the result of another party’s negligence, do not let the possible cost of having legal representation prevent you from seeking a qualified attorney for your case. Atlanta attorney ReShea Balams represents her clients on a contingency fee basis, so you pay absolutely nothing for her services unless she gets you a financial award.
The Balams Firm serves multiple communities in the greater Atlanta area, including locations in Fulton County, DeKalb County, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, and Clayton County.
Call (404) 445-2005 right now to take advantage of a completely free initial consultation that will allow our firm to review your case, discuss your options, and answer all of your legal questions.