In this guide, you will learn the many factors that go into a settlement of a case and what needs to be paid after the case is settled.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF THE CASE?
As a trial lawyer, having tried numerous cases to a jury, I have learned that there are many factors that go into the value of a case. As examples, the location where the case is filed and being tried is important because prospective jurors in some locations are more conservative or liberal than in others. The assigned trial judge is also an important consideration because he or she will be making important decisions about the admissibility of evidence. Of course, the nature and extent of your injuries and damages is a very important consideration. The credibility of witnesses, including you, lay witnesses, treating doctors and expert witnesses, is an important factor. The ability of the defense lawyer is also an important consideration because many defense lawyers know their way around a courtroom and know how to effectively minimize the damages in a case. And so, as you can see, there are a lot of variables that are involved and need to be considered. A skillful trial lawyer should be able to help you evaluate all of these factors.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO PAY MY LAWYER?
Most personal injury lawyers are compensated by a contingency fee. Why? Because most accident victims cannot afford to pay a lawyer a reasonable hourly rate, especially if the case goes to trial. The customary fee is 33 1/3% before a lawsuit is filed and 40% after a lawsuit is filed. However, those percentages can change based on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the case and the experience of the lawyer.
WHAT ELSE IS DEDUCTED AFTER THE CASE IS SETTLED?
The attorney is entitled to be reimbursed for the costs that have been incurred. For example, if a lawsuit is filed, the attorney is entitled to be reimbursed for the filing fee. If depositions were taken, the attorney is entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of the reporter who took down and transcribed the testimony. There are a variety of costs that can be incurred depending on the type of case.
WHAT ABOUT MEDICAL BILLS?
When a person is injured, he or she is entitled to be compensated for the damages that have been incurred. Generally, damages fall into two categories called economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include such things as property damage, medical expenses and lost wages. Noneconomic damages include such things as pain and suffering and emotional distress. All of these damages must be related to the accident or incident. You will be required to prove by competent and credible evidence all of your damages claims. Because part of the settlement is to compensate you for the bills you incurred for all of your necessary treatment (economic damages), you are obligated to pay back your medical providers. Many times, your providers will be willing to negotiate the amount of the bills so as to maximize your recovery.
In sum, after your case is settled, the attorney will deduct his attorney's fees and costs. He will pay back the medical providers who are owed money. Then, the attorney will pay you the amount that is left over.
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