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How Do Attorneys Get Paid in Personal Injury Cases?

The Law Office Phillips & Allen PA Nov. 20, 2022

Attorneys generally get paid in personal injury cases through a contingency fee if we are successful in winning the case or getting an acceptable settlement or resolution. Most people don’t have the wherewithal to pay attorneys hourly to represent them in personal injury cases; not so much for the attorney fees involved, but often the expenses related to the experts can even exceed our fees, especially if those experts are highly trained and highly specialized medical providers, oral surgeons, neurologists, etc.

These professionals are very expensive to use and to get reports from in addition to their testimony or trial. It all costs a small fortune and a lot of times, those numbers are even equal to or exceed the actual attorney’s fees in a case. You get paid by a contingency fee where the attorney gets a percentage and the client ends up also paying the expert fees or witness fees.

What Are Some Qualities To Look For in a Competent Personal Injury Attorney?

The qualities that you need to look for, you need to look for someone responsible, need to look for someone that has the experience. Personal injuries tend to be extremely complicated, much more complicated than just negotiating a deal with someone on the phone with an insurance agent over something.

There are so many traps in personal injury; it’s kind of scary that other attorneys do it when you have to deal with third party claims and subrogation issues. That all has to be done and many attorneys don’t even understand the Medicare or Medicaid subrogation issues, insurance subrogation issues, or the ERISA type subrogation issues that need to be resolved when a third party pays benefits or when your insurance pays money to you, they have a right to recover monies that are paid to you later by a third party.

You’ve got to have somebody who understands that and then, sometimes even be able to negotiate with those third party subrogation stuff, negotiating reasonable shares. A lot of times, it’s not just all your medical payments or stuff that was paid. A lot of it’s for future stuff, for future things and those aren’t necessarily properly subrogatable, if that’s the word. Look for somebody that understands all of those issues and has some experience. We are around $20 million in recoveries over our careers.

What Are The Most Difficult Aspects of A Personal Injury Case?

The most difficult aspect, particularly for these serious personal injury cases, is the fact that it is life changing for most of these people. They cannot work, they have a lot of medical treatment that they are trying to handle and money gets extremely tight for them because they are prosecuting their claim. They are running around doing the things that they need to do, get medical treatment and they more than likely lost their job.

If it’s a serious injury, they usually can’t work and cases stay open for long periods of time and so somebody may be out of work for a long period of time and if they don’t have disability insurance, they are pretty well stuck. So, it’s always difficult to see a family struggle when the main bread winner is not working; it’s a very tough, tough situation.

Is a Bicycle Accident Closer to a Motorcycle Accident or a Pedestrian Accident?

In some instances, the bicyclist takes position as a pedestrian; however, the bicyclist is still using the road, and the bicyclist still has to obey all laws related to using the road and it’s very similar to a motorcycle. There are some insurance differences that kick in, particularly with respect to underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage a lot of times that you need to have specific coverage for that on a motorcycle. That is not the case with most bicycle accidents. It’s not the same.

Your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage will probably cover you for your auto policy if you’re hit on a bicycle. Your auto policy, more than likely, won’t cover your motorcycle — it won’t cover underinsured/uninsured on your motorcycle because they usually have language in there that says in motorcycle policies, you basically need to have separate coverage for more motorcycle first party benefits like underinsured/uninsured and the medical pay the wage loss.

You get that when it’s an accident involving a bike. You don’t lose that but you do lose it on a motorcycle if you don’t have that kind of coverage. But for the most part, bike, motorcycle, car, everybody is required to follow the rules. The same rules apply, regardless of how you are travelling on the roadways.

I handled tough case involving a girl on her bike; it was a six hundred thousand dollar case. She was struck in the rain and three cars ran over her, so it was an awful case, but she lived. She was a Romanian student here on a foreign exchange program. It was a really complicated case because we had an insurance policy that paid for all her medical expenses while she was there, but we had subrogation issues with it so it was a tough case.

Do People Ever Get Discouraged or Hesitant During a Pending Personal Injury Claim?

They get discouraged all the time. The reason why they get discouraged is because if it’s a big case, they are usually out of work and the insurance company knows that if they drag their feet and hold it open, they will take less money.

They get discouraged for two reasons: They are running out of money and they’re finding out that they are never going to get better, or at least they’ve gotten to the point where they have reached their maximum medical improvement and they are still going to have to live with some degree of pain the rest of their lives. It can be very discouraging for them. It’s beyond the money, and then having reached that realization that their improvement has reached a standstill.

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