A legal proposal is an offer from a lawyer to provide services to you and includes the intended scope of services and the cost to hire the lawyer. When it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer, a legal proposal from a personal injury lawyer should include the (i) contingency fee to hire the lawyer, (ii) the estimated damages amount you may be entitled to recover as a result of your accident, (iii) how long it may take to resolve your claim, and (iv) the estimated amount you should recover after your claim is settled.
One of the primary benefits of obtaining legal proposals is the opportunity to compare personal injury lawyers for your claim so you can decide who is best to hire.
Before you hire someone, you want to have an idea what it is going to cost you. To understand what the fair price is for a service or a product, you need to shop around. If you buy the first TV you see, how do you know if that you bought the TV for a fair price or how do you know if that is the right TV? Hiring a lawyer is no different. There are different costs and different levels of services between lawyers.
For example, you will have seen our blog on contingency fees and that is the typical method of paying a personal injury lawyer. But the only way you will know how much it will cost to hire a lawyer is to compare the amount one lawyer will charge you compared to the amount another lawyer will charge you. Lets say you talk to two lawyers about your accident claim and they provide you the following pricing information:
- Lawyer 1 offers to charge you a contingency fee of 30%, plus disbursements, and believes your claim may be worth $50,000. Under this example, you will pay your lawyer $15,000 plus disbursements and are estimated to receive $35,000 (less whatever disbursements cost);
- Lawyer 2 offers to charge you a contingency fee of 30%, including disbursements, and believes your claim may be worth $50,000. Under this example, you will pay your lawyer $15,000 and you will be estimated to receive $35,000 (no amounts will be owing for disbursements); or
- Lawyer 3 offers to charge you a contingency fee of 35%, plus disbursements, and believes your claim may be worth $60,000. Under this example, you will pay your lawyer $21,000 plus disbursements, and are estimated to recover $39,000 (less whatever disbursements cost).
What lawyer should you hire? Well first you should ask injury Lawyer 1 and Lawyer 2 how much they estimate disbursements to be so you can do a complete analysis. Lets assume the disbursements are estimated to be $0. If that's the case, you would likely want to hire Lawyer 3 (assuming all three lawyers have similar experience - that is discussed below).
If you didn't get proposals from different lawyers, how would you actually know the lawyer you hired is offering the best settlement value for your personal injury claim. You wouldn't unless you obtained proposals from multiple lawyers.
Not all personal injury lawyers will value your claim the same. That is demonstrated in the example above. But before you hire a lawyer, you should discuss with lawyers what he or she believes your personal injury claim to be worth and you will want to hire the lawyer that is able to maximize the amount of your claim so you recover the full amount you are owed for your personal injury claim.
Second, not all lawyers will be able to settle your claim for the amount they initially believe it to be worth or different lawyers may believe the claim will settle for different amounts. Similar to asking personal injury attorneys what they believe your claim to be worth, it is equally important to ask personal injury lawyers what each lawyer thinks your claim may settle for.
To understand if your lawyer is providing you with an accurate number for the estimated value of your claim or the estimated settlement value of your claim, you should understand how much experience that lawyer has with personal injury claims. The more experience a lawyer has, the more likely that attorney is providing you with a more accurate estimate.
To assess a personal injury lawyer's experience, you will want to ask:
- How many years has that lawyer been practicing personal injury law;
- Does that lawyer only practice personal injury law or does he or she practice other areas of law as well (the more specialized or dedicated the lawyer is to personal injury law, it may be more likely that he/she will have more personal injury experience);
- Does that lawyer have experience with claims similar to yours. For example, if you were injured by a doctor's malpractice, you will want to understand whether your lawyer has experience with medical malpractice claims as there will be difference in how a medical malpractice claim is handled compared to a car accident claim. Ask potential lawyers to provide examples of cases they have resolved which are similar to yours; and
- Will that lawyer personally be involved in your case or will that lawyer pass your claim to another lawyer that you haven't met (and you don't know the experience of that lawyer).
Now that you have gathered all the information you need to assess lawyers, you should compare personal injury lawyers and decide who seems to be the best injury lawyer and if there are any other questions you may want to ask before deciding who you may want to hire. Once you've seen how much it will cost to hire a lawyer and what your claim may be worth, you can decide if you want to hire an attorney at all and who is the top personal injury lawyer to hire.
Typically yes, however, it depends on the lawyer and the law firm. Like any service or product, legal fees (and contingency fees) can be negotiated.
Let's go back to the very first example above. Say after meeting personal injury Lawyer 1, Lawyer 2 and Lawyer 3, you believe Lawyer 3 has the most experience and you want to hire Lawyer 3, but are concerned about the 35% contingency fee and are wondering if Lawyer 3 will work on your file for a 30% contingency fee. You can go to Lawyer 3 and note that other lawyers have offered a lower contingency fee and see if Lawyer 3 will match that amount. If Lawyer 3 accepts, then you will get the benefit of hiring a lawyer that believes your claim is more than other personal injury lawyers and is offering the same contingency fee. If you don't ask, you don't get!
With that said, the contingency fee should not be the only item to evaluate lawyers. A more experienced lawyer may be able to recover more for your claim, and may charge you a premium for that service. However, just because a lawyer charges a higher amount does not mean that lawyer is better.
After reading the above, it should seem obvious that you should obtain legal proposals. So why doesn't everyone do it? Well, it's difficult and can be intimidating. How do you know how the legal process works and a lot of people assume all lawyers will do the same job. Unfortunately that is not true, and hopefully we have now given you some tools to help you obtain legal proposals before deciding whether to hire a personal injury lawyer or which injury attorney to hire.
We've done one better. Adidem has provided you with software which will conduct the proposal process for you. Without you ever leaving the comforts of your home or without you having to contact a personal injury lawyer.
Well, you could do all the work and call a number of lawyers yourself, or you could simplify life and just use Adidem and let Adidem do the work for you.
At Adidem, we use software to simplify the process to hire a personal injury lawyer and to provide you with the relevant information you need to help decide which is the best personal injury lawyer near you to hire.
We also allow any lawyer to sign-up to use Adidem. No restrictions, no-sign-up fee and no exclusivity with any particular firm or lawyer. Rather than you having to look for the right lawyer, we bring the legal market to you.
This is important, as Adidem:
- can provide you with access to the broader legal market in your city without you needing to contact all those lawyers;
- allows any lawyer with an opportunity to offer their services for your claim;
- allows you to obtain information with respect to your claim to determine which lawyer you may want to hire; and
- makes lawyers compete for your work.