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How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer?

Launching a startup? Injured in an auto accident? Considering a divorce? Need help fighting a lawsuit? Writing a will? In situations like these, you probably should hire a lawyer who can represent your best interests and give you sound legal advice. When researching lawyers in your area, you’re probably wondering about their fees. But what you need to understand is that lawyers may use different fee structures, and the same lawyer may also offer different options or use different fee structures for different kinds of legal work.

Flat Fee

Lawyers typically charge clients a flat fee for relatively simple legal matters. This fee is a set amount that clients must pay, regardless of the time a lawyer spends on the task. Lawyers might use flat fees in legal matters that require completing forms and documents. For example, estate planning attorneys usually charge flat fees for creating simple wills and trusts.

Hourly Fee

With an hourly fee, the rate will depend on how much time the lawyer works on the case. Most lawyers break hourly fees into 10- to 15-minute increments. The number of hours a lawyer will spend on a case will significantly vary based on the case’s specific nature. Because of this, you should ask the lawyer to estimate the hours (if possible) required to complete your case to avoid any surprises later on. It’s also important to note that, in certain situations, lawyers might charge lower hourly rates for very simple tasks, such as researching and interpreting laws, compared to litigation.

Retainer Fee

A retainer fee is an advanced or down payment based on the lawyer’s hourly fee. With this fee, you put money in an account where your lawyer deducts fees for completed services. It’s your responsibility to review the account regularly. You should also know that any unused retainer fees may or may not be refundable, depending on your agreement with your attorney.

Contingency Fee

A contingency fee agreement is the most common payment structure that personal injury attorneys use. With a contingency fee, you don’t need to pay anything other than expenses related to your case unless your lawyer wins your case and you receive your settlement. Your lawyer will receive a set percentage of the judgment or settlement award. But, again, your lawyer will only receive a payment if you do.

Some states don’t permit lawyers to charge clients on a contingency basis in particular case types, like criminal cases or divorce cases. Besides personal injury cases, lawyers often charge contingency fees in employment, in business, probate, and real estate litigation matters.

Referral Fee

When an attorney refers a client to another attorney, the referring attorney typically takes a percentage of the case’s value. The two attorneys determine an objectively reasonable referral fee, and the client should agree to it. Certain states have stringent rules governing referral fees, and some prohibit them entirely.

Why Lawyer Costs Vary

It’s common for veteran, widely-known attorneys in big cities to charge more for their services than attorneys with less experience in rural areas.

But aside from the attorney’s experience and location, these common factors can result in varying lawyer fees:

  • Type of representation – Essentially, more complex legal cases are likely to cost more. This also applies to otherwise simple, routine legal matters that became more complex due to aggravating circumstances or factors.
  • Fee structure – Whether your lawyer works on a contingency fee arrangement, requires an hourly rate, works on a flat fee, requires a retainer, or works when needed will ultimately have a huge impact on the overall cost.
  • Services rendered – If a lawyer performs multiple services, this may likely increase the overall cost. But lawyers sometimes bundle services and charge a fixed cost to help keep the overall price fairly low.

The Importance of Understanding Lawyer Costs

Understanding exactly how much a lawyer will cost before you hire one can prevent surprising costs that you can’t afford. You wouldn’t want to burden yourself and/or your family with undue financial strain or incur debts just to afford lawyer fees. Expenses, which can also differ vastly from one case to another, could add up fairly quickly, so you should speak to any potential attorney in detail about cost and fee estimates. Obtain a written estimate of the costs, which can include court costs, delivery charges, filing fees, etc. If these are not clear in the written estimate, don’t hesitate to ask.

Most important of all, make certain that the lawyer costs are worth the cost of your case and what you could potentially recover should you win your case. For instance, if you are considering filing for bankruptcy due to a $20,000 debt, it won’t make sense to hire an attorney that costs $15,000.

Tatiana Boohoff Managing Partner at Boohoff Law
Tatiana Boohoff, Personal Injury Lawyer

This is why many reputable lawyers offer free case consultations. With a free initial consultation, the lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine if it’s even worth filing a claim or going to court. The lawyer can also suggest other steps that you may take on your own, and you get sound legal advice without paying anything at all.

Although hiring a lawyer might not cost as much as you initially thought, you can see from above that you must consider many variables when determining legal fees. The majority of the fee structures you’ll probably come across may be easy enough to understand but might still feel intimidating.

So before hiring a personal injury lawyer or signing an agreement, you should understand exactly how much you might need to pay for your lawyer’s services. Asking questions, clarifying things you don’t fully understand, obtaining a written fee agreement, and understanding everything your lawyer says should be your priority.

Still confused about lawyer fees or worried about the cost after suffering an accidental injury? Take advantage of free lawyer consultations to learn more about how personal injury lawyer fees work.

How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?

About 38,800 people in the U.S. died due to car accidents in one recent year, according to the National Safety Council. Also, roughly 4.4 million people sustained injuries in car crashes that required medical treatment. Car accidents can be minor or very complex, depending on the specific circumstances. Regardless, car accidents are usually stressful incidents that can disrupt an injured person’s life temporarily or permanently.

People who sustained injuries due to the negligent actions of another driver may recover compensation for covering qualified accident-related expenses, such as:

  • Medical treatment expenses
  • Hospital bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering

They can recover compensation for these expenses and damages through a car accident settlement.

What Exactly Is a Car Accident Settlement?

A car accident settlement entails all the parties in the accident agreeing on a specific payout or compensation amount to cover expenses related to the accident. The settlement can happen without going to court, before a trial, or during an ongoing trial. Essentially, a car accident is a contract that states the liable party agrees to compensate the injured individual for losses incurred due to the accident and resulting injuries.

Done right, car accident settlements can save money and time for all parties involved. Rather than wasting weeks to months fighting it out in a trial and spending lots of resources, moving forward with a fair settlement is usually a better option than going to court. However, settlements will only work if all involved parties cooperate and reach a settlement agreement.

Note that auto insurance companies also offer car accident settlements directly to injured parties who don’t have legal representation. In cases like this, you have to keep in mind that you have the right to reject a low settlement offer, even if it means negotiating with the insurance company to come up with a fair settlement amount. You can also consider finding a car accident lawyer who offers free consultations to help you review the facts of your car accident claim.

What Happens During Settlement Negotiations?

After your lawyer establishes whom you can hold liable for the car accident and your injuries and how much compensation will be fair for all parties, your lawyer will then demand compensation from the liable party. Your lawyer may send the liable parties and/or their lawyers a demand letter detailing your claim and demands. Your lawyer may also choose to sue the liable party.

Once the liable party’s insurer evaluates your demand letter and responds to it, the car accident settlement negotiations will begin. Expect back and forth discussions between all parties everyone tries to come up with a fair settlement agreement. If the parties manage to agree to a settlement, negotiations will end, and you’ll recover your compensation.

On the other hand, if negotiations break down and the parties simply can’t agree on a settlement amount, you might consider alternative dispute resolution or mediation. If the parties still can’t agree, your lawyer may take your car accident case to court. Take note, though, that car accident claims rarely make it to court since settling is usually easier, more affordable, and less stressful for everyone.

How Much Money Can I Recover from a Car Accident Settlement?

Each car accident case will differ from one case to the next and comes with varying weaknesses and strengths. This means that the settlement amount will likewise vary greatly.

When estimating how much compensation is commensurate for your damages, your lawyer may consider:

  • The specific nature and severity of your injuries, which can include pain and suffering damages as well as any long-term effects on your life
  • Whether fault for the car accident is obvious or easily determinable
  • Whether the liable party is open to settlement negotiations

When receiving compensation through a settlement, you can receive it in the form of a structured settlement, annuity payment plan, or a lump sum. With a structured settlement, you’ll receive installment payments regularly over time. With a lump-sum payment, you’ll receive the settlement amount in its entirety. But there can be significant tax implications when receiving a massive amount of money. Your lawyer can advise you on the most cost-effective and tax-friendly option for you.

Be Extremely Cautious When Speaking to an Insurance Claims Representative

Following the car accident, regardless of whether you have a lawyer or not, the liable party’s auto insurance provider will most likely contact you and offer to settle your claim. This may tempt you, especially if you’re struggling to pay your bills. But you have to remember that the insurance company isn’t on your side. All too often, insurance providers, through an insurance claims representative or adjuster, will try to get injured victims to accept a fast but extremely undervalued settlement offer.

Accepting this offer will also mean that you’ll be waiving your rights to seek more compensation and sue the liable party when you realize that you didn’t receive a fair amount. Furthermore, accepting the low offer, particularly before you receive a long-term and more thorough prognosis for the injuries you suffered, would result in not getting the compensation amount that you truly deserve.

Instead, direct all discussions with the adjuster to your lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, consider contacting one that offers free case consultations so you can better understand your case before accepting anything from the insurance company.

When You Need a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Case

Tatiana Boohoff Managing Partner at Boohoff Law
Tatiana Boohoff, Car Accident Lawyer

Injured victims who recover from simple injuries typically can negotiate with insurance companies without any issues and legal representation. On the other hand, victims who’ve sustained potentially permanent and severe injuries such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, extensive scarring and/or burns, or injuries that need a long recovery or lifetime care will require the experience of a lawyer.

A car accident lawyer can review all the facts of your claim, explore your legal options, estimate the value of your claim, determine all liable parties, negotiate with insurance providers, and represent you in court, if necessary.

Denied Workers’ Compensation Claims

The federal government requires most employers to provide sufficient workers’ compensation insurance in all U.S. states and territories. Workers’ compensation aims to protect employees from going bankrupt after sustaining work-related injuries. However, the reality is that the workers’ comp insurance system is very complicated to navigate.

Most employers purchase insurance from private insurers. This means that when you suffer injuries, the insurance provider, not your employer, will probably handle your workers’ insurance comp claim. The insurer will also be the one to decide whether to deny or approve your claim to cover your medical bills, wage replacement benefits, rehabilitation, and other qualified benefits.

Why Insurance Companies Deny Workers’ Compensation Claims

Although each state implements different rules and procedures for workers’ compensation claims, regardless of where you are employed, one thing is certain. Insurance companies will attempt to use technicalities such as specific requirements and deadlines to try and justify the denial of claims. The initial claim denial is a contentious issue in most workers’ compensation cases.

You need to understand that insurers will also be looking out for their best interests, which means limiting settlements or denying claims altogether. They will investigate claims for any opportunity to reduce settlements or deny benefits.

These are among the most common reasons insurance companies give when denying workers’ comp claims:

  • The employee failed to notify the employer of the accident and injury
  • The employee did not suffer injuries on the job
  • The employee missed the deadline for filing a workers’ comp claim
  • The employer is disputing the employer’s injury claim
  • The employee was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs during the incident that led to the injury
  • The employee’s injuries are not serious enough to warrant coverage
  • The employee’s medical condition does not fall under workers’ compensation coverage
  • The employer laid off or fired the employee

You should also know that it’s illegal for an employer to fire an employee for filing a workers’ comp claim or reporting an injury. If this applies to your case, your employer has violated federal and state labor laws, which means that you can also consider filing a third-party claim against your employer, besides your workers’ compensation claim.

When to Appeal a Denied Workers’ Compensation Insurance Claim

It could frustrate and worry you to learn the insurer denied your claim. Fortunately, you have the right to dispute the denial and appeal your claim. The denial letter must specify why the insurer denied your claim, how and when you can file an appeal, and a deadline notification for filing the appeal. This deadline is crucial because missing it could result in missing your right to obtain benefits.

If you don’t fully understand the contents of the denial letter or don’t know how to proceed with the claim, consider consulting a workers’ compensation claim attorney in your area for proper guidance. Also, if you have clear evidence that the insurer denied your claim due to some irregularity, administrative error, or fraud, you can file a complaint with your state’s workers’ comp administrative office.

When to Reopen Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Claim

Reopening a claim is different from appealing it. Denied claimants might consider reopening a previously closed claim in these scenarios:

  • The injury worsened or returned
  • The employee has new evidence to prove the claim and/or show that the compensation settlement was unfair or insufficient
  • The lighter duties or job options the employer offered does not exist
  • The employer found evidence of fraud or an administrative or legal error that resulted in an unjust denial

Take note, though, that each state sets a different deadline for reopening a closed workers’ comp claim. Insurance companies consider claims closed once the employee receives the final and full payment and signs the release. Likewise, the procedures for reopening denied claims vary from one state to another. Broadly speaking, it typically requires filing a request with the workers’ comp commission or board in your area. You need to get in touch with them for specific instructions and follow all the procedures or risk having your request to reopen your claim denied.

But what if the statute of limitations to reopen your workers’ comp claim lapsed? The nature of most injuries can make verifying the worsening or aggravation of previous injuries hard to determine, resulting in delays. Insurers will always dispute reopening closed claims based on time limits to avoid settling the claim and compensating the claimant retroactively. It is important to act swiftly and contact a workers’ compensation attorney immediately if you think you need to reopen a past claim.

When to Request a Hearing

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, Workers’ Compensation Attorney

You can request an administrative hearing to resolve disputed workers’ comp claims, such as claims denied without clear or valid reasons. But you can likewise request a hearing if you want to dispute some of the decisions made by the insurer about your ability to start working again, weekly wage benefits, permanent disability benefits, or vocational training, among others.

When you request a hearing, you take away the power of your employer’s insurance provider and hand it over to the workers’ comp administrative judge. However, it will also be up to you to effectively argue your case. You’ll need to look up relevant employment and labor laws and show your medical records to support your claim. You will also require copies of relevant files from your employer and the insurance provider. But take note that you may need a subpoena to get ahold of files from the insurer and your employer.

A workers’ compensation lawyer can handle all of these tasks for you.

Get Legal Advice from an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Claim Attorney

If you have yet to consult a workers’ compensation claim attorney, this is the time to do so because the insurance provider will surely send their attorneys to defend their case. While you can file a workers’ compensation insurance claim on your own, if the insurance provider delays your claim unnecessarily, denies it based on unfair grounds, significantly cuts your benefits, or you’re facing an administrative hearing, seek legal assistance. Contact a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your options today.a

Acceleration and Deceleration Brain Injury

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a traumatic brain injury or TBI is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the U.S. In 2019, there were approximately 61,000 deaths from TBI. TBIs result from sudden trauma damaging the brain and disrupting its normal functions. Depending on the TBI’s severity, it could have very significant lifelong cognitive, physical, emotional, social, and psychological effects.

Medical professionals classify TBIs into primary and secondary injuries. Primary brain injuries occur due to mechanical forces and develop instantly. Secondary brain injuries, on the other hand, do not happen mechanically and may develop later on after sustaining primary injuries. Acceleration and deceleration brain injuries are primary brain injuries.

Understanding Acceleration and Deceleration Brain Injuries

Acceleration and deceleration brain injuries result from an unrestricted and sudden head movement that causes compressive, tensile, and shear strains. Among the most common situations that can result in this type of primary TBI is a high-speed auto accident, where whiplash is very common. Whiplash occurs when the head moves forward and backward rapidly.

With acceleration and deceleration brain injuries, these are the three most common types of damage:

  1. Diffuse axonal injury (dai)
  2. Focal contusions
  3. Intracranial hematomas, or bleeding around or in the brain

Diffuse Axonal Injury

This refers to widespread white matter damage in the brain. Your brain’s white matter consists of axon bundles, which, similar to computer wires, are responsible for connecting the different brain areas. DAI results from shearing forces that tear, twist, or stretch the axon bundles.

The problem is that DAIs are usually microscopic, which means that standard neuroimaging techniques cannot easily detect them. Severe DAIs, on the other hand, can be detected using an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine. DAIs could injure various brain areas and often occur with mild TBIs, but could likewise occur with severe TBIs.

Focal Contusions

These are swelling or bruising in tiny, specific brain areas. Focal contusions are also typically called coup injuries, in which bruising occurs directly under the trauma site, and contrecoup injuries, in which bruising occurs on the particular area of the brain that’s opposite the impact site. But coup-contrecoup injuries can also occur when the brain shakes back and forth, leading to bruising on both sides of your brain.

Intracranial Hematomas

Bleeding or hematomas around or in the brain is another common damage type that could occur with acceleration and deceleration TBIs.

It’s the most common cause of clinical deterioration and death after TBI and comes as:

  • Epidural hematoma: This usually results from a temporal bone fracture and middle meningeal artery rupture. With an epidural hematoma, blood clots pool between the dura and the bone. Since the bleeding source is arterial, epidural hematomas could develop rapidly and place undue pressure on brain tissue.
  • Subdural hematoma: This kind of hematoma often results from the subdural space’s bridging veins getting ruptured. Left untreated, it could grow quickly and serve as a mass lesion. Subdural hematomas can lead to high mortality and morbidity rates.
  • Subarachnoid hematoma: This results from blood vessel damage in the posterior cranial fossa.

There’s also the possibility of intracerebral hematomas with TBIs. Any kind of bleeding within or surrounding the brain is dangerous and potentially fatal.

What You Should Know About Secondary Injuries and Other TBI Complications

As with all kinds of traumatic brain injuries, which include accelerating and decelerating brain injuries, secondary injuries are common and occur because of the effects of the primary injuries. Essentially, a secondary injury results from processes that the primary injury initiates and evolves over time.

Secondary injuries can include:

  • Hyper/hypotension
  • Ischemia
  • Hypoxia
  • Cerebral edema
  • Hypercapnia
  • Raised intracranial pressure, which could lead to herniation
  • Brain abscess
  • Meningitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Biochemical changes

Furthermore, besides the immediate dangers of TBIs, they can also cause long-term complications and consequences, which can include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive issues – Problems with focus, processing information, reasoning, nonverbal and verbal communication, multitasking, judging situations, remembering things, organizing ideas and thoughts, and problem-solving, etc.
  • Issues with senses – These can lead to tinnitus, clumsiness because of poor eye-hand coordination, difficulty recognizing objects, sensing bad smells, or blind spots and double vision
  • Changes in personality – These changes typically result in impaired impulse control, leading to inappropriate behavior and, in turn, causing anxiety and stress for family members, caregivers, and friends
  • Long-term neurological issues – These can include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression, among others
  • Coma – People with TBI who become comatose and remain in a coma for a long period might wake up completely fine. Unfortunately, it’s more common for people to wake from a coma with long-term disabilities and issues. Some even stay in a coma forever.

Seeking Help for a Traumatic Brain Injury

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, Brain Injury Attorney

Moderate and severe TBIs could result in lifelong cognitive, physical, behavioral, and emotional disabilities that will damage the injured person’s quality of life. The CDC also found that despite hospitalization and rehab services, approximately 50 percent of TBI patients would experience further decline or die within five years of sustaining a TBI.

Fortunately, it is possible to reduce or prevent some of the adverse effects of TBI. Managing these lifelong problems, also called chronic disease management, is immensely vital to help improve the lives of people with TBI. However, the estimated lifetime costs of managing a TBI can range from $85,000 up to $3 million in recent years. And for many people, the cost is a massive barrier to proper TBI management.

Because of this, TBI cases require proper and prompt medical treatment as well as legal support. If you or a loved one is suffering from a TBI that resulted from another individual’s negligence in an accident or at work, consult with a brain injury lawyer to learn about your legal options.

An experienced brain injury lawyer can help determine how and where you can recover compensation to afford all the medical treatments you will need for your brain injury, whether from your own health insurance, the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, and/or your worker’s compensation insurance.