When is hiring an attorney a mistake?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by brcase, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Lots of threads that say run don’t walk, hire an attorney now, but…
    When is hiring an attorney a mistake?

    The question is, is hiring a vehicle injury attorney a no brainer in severe accidents like below? Ie.
    Don’t think about it just select a good one and do it.
    ----------------------------
    Situation: 2 vehicle accident with serious long term injuries (amputation, for example).
    Fault is pretty clear from the police report and situation.
    Fairly typical insurance policies for both parties, could easily only be $100,000 of injury insurance. Persons involved likely pretty liability proof, (Low Assests)
    Medical bills could easily exceed the $100,000, not including additional issues such as lost wages, disability, etc…
    ____________________
    Does the injured person need to make a calculation to prevent 33% of the insurance going to an attorney, and being stuck with $33,000+ of bills that insurance might have otherwise covered?
    Are there any tips for making that calculation of when or when not to hire the attorney?

    Brian
     
  2. timwinters

    timwinters Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    :popcorn:

    This oughta be good!
     
  3. bradg33

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    I'm not a Plaintiff's attorney, but I can tell you that an insurance company (or their counsel) typically isn't going to take you very seriously unless you're represented by counsel.
     
  4. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    I'll tell you when NOT to hire an attorney. When you do something stupid and hurt yourself. (not suggesting that is your case, just a comment)
     
  5. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If a defendant has no assets, what would our goal be in chasing them? Future income?
     
  6. Kristin

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    If the potential plaintiff is absolutely sure that there is no other assets that can reasonably be attacked, then the best strategy is to send that insurance company for the guilty party a letter, send certified, which offers to settle the case for policy limits. Make sure that they have to provide a copy of the policy so that you know for sure what the policy limit is.

    The other strategy is to find an attorney that does a sliding scale contingency fee. For example, 10% if settled before filing suit, 25% after filing, but before starting depositions, and then 33% when depositions start. Unfortunately, there are fairly few attorneys that will do that.
     
  7. AdamZ

    AdamZ Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Here's the thing. There are lost of pitfalls in litigation. For example by not knowing what you are doing if you settle a case you can be giving up the ability to recover additional compensation, like for example from a UIM policy if you have one. There are often health insurance and other possible ERISA subrogation liens that could eat up an entire settlement if they are not compromised properly. Most PI settlements also require a Medicare clearance. It is rarely as easy as sign and get a check.
     
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  8. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    All good points! I still had my defense dog hat on when I only gave half an answer. 33% is still a lot for settling with an insurance company, even considering the potential need to negotiate with healthcare providers, etc.
     
  9. JCranford

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    Yup, cuz we gotta make attorneys money on BOTH sides of the fence!
     
  10. bradg33

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    It's not really that, it's that unrepresented parties rarely know what they're doing and can be next to impossible to deal with. They don't understand the law or the process, and as a result it can be time-consuming and frustrating to attempt to work with them.
     
  11. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it makes sense in all but the simplest cases and any time there is personal injury involved. I'd say it's also a good idea if you're timid by nature or don't know how to make and justify demands while not committing or implicating yourself and promising absolutely nothing in return until you get the offer you want. It takes some experience dealing with insurance companies to develop that particular skill set.

    Rich
     
  12. Badger

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    If the defendant has minimal assets at the time of the injury, BUT they inherit big $$$ say 6 months later, can the new assets be included in the suit or is the liability restricted to the assets at the time of the accident? If future assets can be included, then I say hire the attorney.
     
  13. Warlock

    Warlock Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I am in insurance and there is no doubt that many net less with representation on smaller claims...but anything complex or truly life changing like the example legal representation is smart. Most insurance companies have a good idea when to write a check for the policy limit and walk away. Then again in my mind I have a list of Companies that I would seek representation and others that I would not...some actually play fair but others never will as a matter of core corporate value.
     
  14. Lindberg

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    Did you treat yourself for the serious, long-term injuries, or hire a professional? Treat the serious, long-term legal issues the same way. Some people are DIYers, even to their own detriment.
     
  15. bradg33

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    [​IMG]
     
  16. scorpio

    scorpio Pre-Flight

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    As mentioned, the subrogation claims involved in personal injury cases can be a minefield. Some you can negotiate to a fraction of the bill, some you can't. There are serious ramifications for not correctly handling the subrogation claims. If bills are paid outside no-fault coverage be careful. The liability, damages, and causation issues also are not always as straightforward as you may believe. Same can be said for the avenues of collection...
     
  17. Let'sgoflying!

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  18. Gerhardt

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    This! Small claims, just property damage, yeah, handle it yourself. ANY bodily injury at all and you want an attorney.

    I'm embarrassed to admit this, especially because it was so stupid and I know better. But several years ago a lady crossed the center line and hit me head-on. I can't move my neck. Ambulance takes us both to the hospital where they take x-rays, etc. Doc says I'm fine, it's just soft-tissue injury and the pain will go away in a few days. Progressive adjuster comes by in a few days and pays for my truck and will pick up the medical bills after I sign a release. I really thought I was smarter than that, but I think I was just anxious to put it behind me, so I signed.

    A few weeks go by and my neck still hurts and is popping when I turn it. I called Progressive, say I want to see the doc again..."By all means, you should see someone, but we're not paying for it. You signed the release."

    My neck still bothers me occasionally. Not pain every day, but I've got a bad feeling that even another minor accident would be the last one for me.
     
  19. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ...when you get a lawyer who either (1) doesn't know what s/he is doing or (2) is more interested in generating fees rather than helping the client. I've unfortunately met both.
     
  20. brcase

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    Been reading up on the contingency fees, The detail I seemed to have been missing is that it appears the Attorney's fee formula is usually (Recovered Funds - Medical Bills)/3. I.e. The medical bills get paid 1st. So if the Attorney doesn't recover at least enough to pay the medical bill, the Attorney doesn't get paid either.

    This makes the decision to hire the attorney a lot easier than what I thought the formula might be of just 1/3 of the the recovered funds.

    Brian
     
  21. denverpilot

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    It also means most attorneys won't touch cases below a certain dollar amount.

    Hear that sob story on the local consumer advocate type radio show every week. He patiently explains to them that they probably have a case, and they're never ever going to find an attorney who'll take it unless the attorney is so bad they don't even have money for lunch.
     
  22. jbarrass

    jbarrass Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Also, if it's simple, you don't need to contract for contingency fees. You can pay their hourly rate. It can be a better deal.
     
  23. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Agreed, but when you start getting into dollar amounts that might hit insurance limits, I don't think it going to simple any more.

    Brian
     
  24. midlifeflyer

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    in many cases, medical providers have liens or other statutory rights on recovery that have them paid off the top. This is ancient information since I haven't handled an injury case in about 25 years but In some cases the attorney gets paid based on that recovery as well, but that is via direct negotiation with the lienholder.
     
  25. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member

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    Medical lien holders will generally negotiate on their payment, in recognition that the retained counsel represents their only chance at a recovery.
     
  26. txflyer

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    " He who represents himself has a fool for a client."
     
  27. Dr. O

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    My experience over some 40 years as the provider of medical care is that as soon as a legal squabble is involved I can kiss any chance of getting paid, goodbye. As far as my having any rights of recovery, in say an auto accident, I never found any such right. Or perhaps I should reword that to say, the attorneys hunched over the insurance money available to the patient, like vultures over a piece of ripe carrion, never found any such right for me.
    But in time I did learn. I finally refused to treat any work-comp injury or pain from an auto crash - simply referring them straight to the "specialists" and writing off that office call as noncollectable.