Last week, we were asked to review another’s firm’s contingent fee agreement in a medical/nursing malpractice case. We will not name names, but we will say we were shocked by some of the provisions this particular injury law firm was putting in its fee agreements with its clients.
First, the law firm charged 5% interest per year on all expenditures made on behalf of the client. Of course, we have known for some time that some injury lawyers and firms charge interest (and some lawyers charge an even higher interest rate) but this is just one of the many things that we believe sets us apart from other firms. At the Law Offices of John Day, we never charge interest on the expenses we advance on your behalf. We know that most injury victims are already feeling a financial pinch and we, as your lawyers, are not going to add to it. And, if for whatever reason your case is not successful, we do not ask you to repay the advanced expenses. So, you owe us nothing for either our legal work or the money we have advanced for the expenses in your case.
Second, this particular law firm charged a flat fee of $500 for copies, postage and faxes. That charge increased to $1,000 if the case did not settle before suit was filed. That is a lot of letters, faxes and copies especially when you consider a tremendous amount of our communication these days is done via email and texts. At that rate, 900 letters (at 55 cents per piece) could be sent on the client’s case. Quite frankly, this charge is similar to a car dealership’s “Document Preparation Fee”. It is simply a profit center, and we do not do it. At the Law Offices of John Day, we only charge expenses as they are incurred, and we charge well below the typical rate. For instance, the Fed Ex Office down the street from us charges .16 cents for black and white copies and .75 cents for color copies. We charge .10 cents for black and white and .45 cents for color. For faxes, we charge .10 cents per page. For postage, we only charge for what is actually incurred instead of a high, flat rate.
If you are considering hiring an injury attorney or firm, the advice we would give you is two-fold: (1) a fee agreement with your lawyer is like any other contractual document that you sign and for that reason you should make sure you understand each and every provision. If you don’t you should get clarification on it; (2) be mindful of the details when selecting an injury lawyer or firm. You are about to turn over your case to someone else, so ask the right questions and make sure you are entrusting it to the right person. We have created a checklist of questions you should ask so that you can make an informed decision when hiring an injury lawyer. Of course, we hope you will choose our firm. But if you do not, we still want you to get quality representation at a fair rate.
Our award-winning attorneys handle all accident cases on a contingency basis, and the initial consultation is always free so it costs you nothing to see if we think you have a case. So, give us a call at one of our three office locations. And as always, if you can’t come to us for any reason, we will gladly come to you.