Can Someone Afford An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
One of the most frequently asked questions our office hears is, “Is this conversation costing me money?”
It’s a subject that we bring up early in the conversation because we know there is a reluctance to ask the question. Virtually all of our cases (with very few exceptions) are done on a contingent fee basis. That’s what levels the playing field for the consumer. The question that the client really needs to ask the lawyer on this issue is something that needs to be discussed early on, which is how the fee is going to be calculated, and how does one know that their interests are being advanced when it comes time to settle.
A lot of people look at it and think, “The attorney is going to get 40% and then all my bills have to be paid. That is not going to leave me anything.”
Again, it goes back to a prevalent stigma in the field of personal injury law. What we tell our clients without exception is that when they gather the necessary information, and can advise you as to the value of your case, then that is when the fee is going to be discussed. Up until then, the job of the client is easy. It is to keep your attorney informed about your medical condition, to tell them what’s going on at work, to tell them how the injury is affecting your life and they will get all the information. It’s not going to cost you a thing.
Your attorneys will get the medical records, the income loss documents, the tax returns, and whatever else is needed. They will retain and pay for experts, should they be required. The contract says you have to pay if your attorney gets money and has spent money to advance your case and nobody has a problem with that. What everyone needs to understand is that once it gets to the point where the case can be evaluated with a good prognosis on the medical condition and a known dollar figure to the extent they can on the other elements of the claim, then you are going to have a talk. At that point we tell our clients, “Here’s what I think a reasonable range on your case is.”
The next question is usually, “What about my medical?”
In virtually every case today you have to account for the medical expenses in some way out of the client’s recovery. However, there are many ways to minimize the number of medical expenses that have to be reimbursed out of a personal injury claim.
That is a very complicated area that the law firm of Wells, Purcell & Kraatz has spent many years developing expertise in. It basically comes down to what kind of health insurance a person has. Many clients are overwhelmed and usually the first time they call an attorney is when they get the first bill from the hospital. It takes a while to get them to calm down and then we can usually say, “I know that the hospital billed $100,000 and I can tell you based upon my experience that your insurance company is going to pay them $15,000. You are not going to owe the difference. The number that really needs to be dealt with at the conclusion of your case when trying to evaluate how much it is worth is $15,000, not $100,000. Throw that bill away if it makes you feel better because those are not the numbers”.
In a situation like this, the office at Wells, Purcell & Kraatz will go through it and figure out what isn’t really reasonable about the bill.
At that time when there is a prognosis, then the case is ready to be evaluated. They also have done the work to make sure they know what has to be paid back to whoever it may be. They have figured out what that number is that has to be paid and can be done to reduce it.
The truth of the matter is that an attorney doesn’t know at that time how much they are going to have to pay back to account for the medical expenses. Medical expense reimbursement people want to know how much the recovery is going to be before they’ll agree on a reduced figure. However, what attorney Ken Kraatz can tell his clients is “Here’s what I can do with this number which is the number that we have to account for, not the number that was billed. This is the real number,” and then we start doing math from there.
By that time, clients appreciate the allocation, the way money would be distributed, and who’s getting what because that’s exactly what they’re entitled to know. Attorney Ken Kraatz has had far too many people come to him from other lawyers that tell him they went to the doctor and then one day, a lawyer called them up and said, “Hey, I settled your case, come on down.”
There was never any discussion at all about how the case was going to be valued, what the goals of the settlement discussions were and who was going to get what, including the client.
That’s something that the firm of Wells, Purcell & Kraatz has always felt very strongly about. Any client they have is going to know what the goal is, what the insurance company’s offer is, and the projections about what they would recover out of each given number that may be discussed. The consumer can afford an experienced lawyer on an injury claim because the system allows and encourages these contingent fee contracts.
For more information on Affording a Personal Injury Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (817) 335-5525 today.
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