There are basically three ways that you can pay your attorney for representing you:
1. Flat fee
2. Hourly rate fee
If you pay a flat fee, you pay a fixed amount for the services performed by the attorney. The amount of the fee does not change based on the amount of time the attorney spends on the matter. Examples of cases where an attorney might charge a flat rate include drafting certain documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc. An attorney may also charge a flat fee to handle a criminal case or divorce case.
If you pay an hourly rate, the attorney charges you a certain amount for each hour (or other increment of time) she spends on your case. Sometimes the attorney will require a retainer up front and will then bill against the retainer. The retainer is basically a deposit into a trust account. The attorney has to keep track of the amount of time he spends on your case and then bills for it. If all of the initial retainer is not used, then you would be entitled to a refund.
If you pay a contingency fee, you pay a fee based on a percentage of an amount due to you in a settlement of verdict. In the case of a contingency fee, you pay nothing unless you win your case and get money awarded to you. In a flat fee or hourly fee contract, you pay no matter what the outcome is. In a contingency fee, you and the attorney share the risk of whether you win your case. The advantages of a contingency fee are that you do not have to pay up front and do not have to pay anything unless you win. Most of the time, you will have a contingency fee in personal injury, worker’s compensation, and other types of tort cases. Most states, including Alabama, do not allow contingency fees in divorce or criminal cases.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all types of fee agreements. Some fee agreements work better with certain types of cases than others. Most injured people cannot afford to pay a huge fee up front to try to collect money from a powerful corporation or insurance company. A contingency fee helps level the playing field by allowing an individual to get an attorney to ensure that his rights are protected.
If you would like more information, please visit my website at www.turner-miller.com or email me at email@example.com.
It is difficult for consumers to know which lawyer is the right lawyer for their case. Many lawyers advertise for “injury” cases or “DUI” cases or whatever. However, just because a lawyer advertises for that type of case does not mean that he is the most qualified to handle it. It is important to find a lawyer who actually practices personal injury or worker’s compensation law on a daily basis. This is because is it difficult for lawyers to keep up to date on changes in the law in every area of practice. A lawyer who practices in the area you need will be up to date on those changes. Doing so can make a huge difference in the value of your case.
Additionally, adjusters (or prosecutors in DUI cases) know which lawyers actually practice in those areas of law. They know which lawyers will fight for their clients and go to court if necessary and which ones will not. Again, this has a huge impact on the outcome of your case. After all, it is your rights that are at stake. A good lawyer knows how to get the evidence required and knows how to properly present it to the jury. Not all lawyers go to court, and some are not even willing to do so.
The best ways to find a good lawyer are:
1) Get a referral from another attorney in your area;
2) Contact the state bar referral service to get the names of attorneys who practice in your area;
3) Interview several attorneys in your area and see if they are willing to refer you to other good lawyers who practice in that area;
4) Check the lawyer out online – does he have reviews? – Does she have a website full of information that is helpful?
Be wary of lawyers who contact you directly or send a “runner” to do so without you requesting it. You should also be wary of lawyers who expect you to sign a contingency fee agreement immediately if you are not ready to do so. Finally, be wary of lawyers who try to send you to certain doctors or chiropractors for medical treatment. That practice sends up a red flag to adjusters and to jurors as well.
This information is covered in more detail along with other topics in my book: 7 Ways to Protect and Maximize the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim. If you would like a copy of it please visit my website at www.turner-miller.com.