Can I hire a personal injury attorney who will work with me as a bulk attorney, or should I just take my case to small claims?

Asked about 1 year ago - San Francisco, CA

If you know that the policy limits are $15,000.00, should you just go ahead and take the case to small claims without an attorney. Most attorneys are interested in cases involving low policy limits, so maybe I should just settle for trying for 10,000 in small claims, and forget trying to go up against an attorney by myself. Or, are there attorneys who will work for you as a bulk attorney?

Attorney answers (12)

  1. Erik Priedkalns

    Contributor Level 13

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    Answered . Even if you go to small claims court and win, you may end up going against an attorney eventually. The small claims rules allow for attorney representation on an appeal from the small claims judgment. When I used to practice insurance defense, the insurance company would instruct us to appeal small claims judgments quite often.

  2. Allister Rex Liao

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

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    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Without completely understanding what you mean by "bulk attorney," let me try to answer your question...

    First, let's address some of the reasons why an attorney might decline representation -

    There are a number of factors for an attorney to consider prior to accepting a case for legal representation. In a typical car accident case involving a simple cause of action for negligence, the attorney must make sure that there are facts/evidence to establish a claim (i.e. duty, breach, causation, damages). If there aren't facts/evidence for even one of these elements, then this would raise a red flag and could result in an attorney declining your case.

    Beyond that, there's also the issue of insurance coverage as you've referenced in your question. Sometimes a lack of insurance coverage could be a reason to decline representation. But, a lack of coverage is relative to case value:

    Case A: a case valued at $100,000 with $15,000 in insurance coverage is seriously deficient.
    Case B: a case valued at $20,000 with $15,000 in insurance coverage is only slightly deficient.

    An attorney is more likely to handle Case B than Case A. So, it depends on the underlying facts of your case to really determine what level of insurance coverage deficiency we're talking about.


    ALTERNATIVES -
    While industry standard for personal injury cases operates on a contingency fee (i.e. attorney's fee is based on a percentage of the recovery), there may be an attorney out there that's willing to work on a fixed fee. A fixed fee is an agreed-upon flat rate that you pay regardless of the outcome of the case.

    This fixed/flat fee could alleviate your concerns regarding the attorney "eating up" a considerable portion of the recovery. The challenge is finding an attorney willing to do so and arriving at a reasonable fee that an attorney would be willing to work with.

    Another alternative is to consider limited scope representation. This is where the attorney's task(s) are something less than complete handling of your case. This would give you more leeway to discuss a lower flat fee. What the attorney is not tasked with, you are responsible to handle on your own.


    I hope this response helps address some of your lingering questions. Best of luck to you!

    This information is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is intended for general... more
  3. Kevin Samuel Sullivan

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . many attorneys including myself will handle smaller personal injury claims. I handle them on a regular basis. How did the accident happen and how much are your medicals and lost wages.

  4. Matthew William Hoffmann

    Contributor Level 14

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Studies have found that claimants with an attorney receive much higher settlements when an attorney is retained - as in 3-4 times higher. http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/hiring-an-.... Consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction to receive maximum compensation.

    This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an... more
  5. Alan Ray Barnes

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . Many personal injury attorneys will handle cases with minimum policy limits. You are likely to get a better result if competent counsel is handling your case than if you attempt to take on an insurance company by yourself.

    Just because the adjuster comes to small claims court alone doesn't mean there isn't a lawyer back in the home office providing legal advice. The insurance company is getting quality legal advice; you should too.

    Most lawyers will offer a free initial consultation. At least avail yourself of the information that will be provided in that meeting before you decide whether to hire a lawyer.

  6. Robert Max Klein

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It looks like you have at least two lawyer who handle cases like your case in the San Francisco area. I hope you call either or both and take advantage of this website. Good luck.

  7. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . Run the case by a local attorney first

  8. Michael Shemtoub

    Contributor Level 17

    8

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    Answered . What do you mean "bulk attorney"? We handle small parking lot accidents to very large injury cases. Please comment on my answer and provide me with a better explanation of your case and I'll be more than happy to help you out.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for... more
  9. Manuel Alzamora Juarez

    Contributor Level 20

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Only an attorney can determine if your recovery is only $15k. For instance, unless you are legally trained, you do not know whether you can sue your own insurance Uninsured/Underinsured policy. Or whether the defendant has an excess liability policy or whether he was on his way to work, or on a company car in the course of business, or whether the defendant is a minor living at his parents home and that might open another can of worms. Do you still want to go to small claims court? Best of luck.

    This answer is provided by California Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., 510-206-4492. Abogado de... more
  10. Christopher John Gansen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    8

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    Answered . What are you talking about?

  11. Robert Andrew Michael Burns

    Contributor Level 17

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Please rethink and rewrite your post. I never heard of a "bulk attorney". This is a false statement: "Most attorneys are interested in cases involving low policy limits".

  12. Stacey Renee O'Neill

    Contributor Level 1

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . The first thing to keep in mind is that at present time in California you are limited to a recovery of $7,500 in small claims court for claims of bodily injury arising from a car accident, if the Defendant is insured and the insured's policy includes a duty to defend, which in most cases it does. Therefore, by bring the case in small claims court you will be limiting your potential recovery for your bodily injury to $7,500.

    An attorney can help you recover more than the $7,500 you are limited to in small claims court and can potentially help you recover in excess of the other driver's $15,000 policy limits. An attorney will know what to look for to determine if there are additional avenues through which to pursue compensation for your injuries to avoid leaving money on the table.

    Keep in mind that it is possible to settle your claim without filing a lawsuit and you can try to negotiate directly with the insurance company. However, insurance companies are always looking for a reason not to pay you, so communicating directly with the insurance company, without the assistance of a lawyer, may have pitfalls.

    It is worth consulting with an attorney before you move forward. Most attorneys will provide a free consultation which could help you determine if hiring a lawyer is right for you.

    This information provide is informational and should not be relied on as legal advice.

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