Frequently Asked Questions
How much automobile insurance coverage is enough?
Most people do not have enough automobile insurance.
Everyone makes mistakes. Your liability insurance coverage compensates those persons injured by your mistakes while driving and protects you against having to pay for someone else’s injuries from your own pocket.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is intended to provide compensation to you and, generally, your passengers for injuries caused by others who do have enough (or any) liability coverage. If you have purchased this coverage under your own policy, it will generally follow you and your household family members while riding as passengers in someone else’s vehicle.
An individual injured in an auto accident is entitled to recover for his medical expense (which may be hundreds of thousands of dollars if the injuries are serious), physical pain and lost income.
Ideally, we should all have as much liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as we can reasonably afford. $1 million of each type of coverage is not too much. $100,000 in coverage will often be insufficient to provide fair compensation to individuals who suffer substantial injuries. Umbrella or excess coverage policies can usually be obtained at reasonable cost to provide coverage beyond that available under a primary automobile policy.
We offer legal representation to all clients on an hourly fee basis payable regardless of the outcome of the litigation. In addition, representation is in most cases available on a contingency fee basis (discussed below) meaning no attorney fees are payable except in the event of some financial recovery upon the claim.
Because most lawsuits, especially those based upon medical negligence, require many hundreds of hours of legal work and the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars for preparation and presentation, it is never practical to file a lawsuit that has a very low likelihood of succeeding. It is very rarely practical to pursue a claim involving very minor or trivial injuries even where the minor or trivial injury was clearly the result of negligence of another.
Q. Explain contingency fees and why they may be appropriate?
A. Representation on a contingency fee basis generally means the attorneys are entitled to receive payment for our legal services on behalf of our clients only as a percentage of the financial compensation actually recovered for the client. Where representation is on a contingency fee basis, the percentage will be based upon the complexity of the legal representation, including the amount of time and effort anticipated, and upon the likelihood of the claim succeeding. If the claim is altogether unsuccessful, the attorneys are not paid for their time, regardless of the number of hours expended.
Absent the option of legal representation on a contingent fee basis, only wealthy individuals could afford to pursue a lawsuit seeking compensation for serious bodily injuries and harms.
Another advantage of contingency fees is that the client’s best financial interest is consistent with the lawyer’s financial interest. A good financial outcome for the client generally results in a good financial outcome for the lawyer. Conversely, the lawyer is not compensated if the outcome for the client is not favorable. Similarly, the lawyer has no incentive to unnecessarily prolong litigation or to spend time on legal tasks that are not beneficial to the client. Where lawyers are paid by the hour (as are most defense lawyers in civil lawsuits), they receive compensation even when they lose. Moreover, a lawyer paid by the hour has no financial incentive to resolve a case without a trial or to otherwise hasten conclusion or resolution of the dispute.
Q. Are contingency fees ever inappropriate?
A. Contingency fees are appropriate whenever a client cannot afford to pay for legal services as they are rendered. The percentage to be paid on a contingency fee may be excessive and, therefore, unfair, if the likelihood of a substantial financial recovery is very high and the number of hours of legal services reasonably anticipated is very low. So, entering into a contingency fee agreement would be unwise without understanding both the likelihood of success and the extent of legal work anticipated.
Q. Are attorneys overpaid when they represent clients based on contingency fees?
A. Attorneys may be overpaid or underpaid with contingency fees. If the number of hours expended is higher than expected, the attorney may be underpaid as compared to work on an hourly basis. If the litigation is entirely unsuccessful, the attorney is not paid at all for his time and is, therefore, underpaid. If the recovery is lower than expected, the attorney may well be underpaid in light of the number of hours of legal work.
Where the financial recovery upon the claim is very high relative to the hours expended, some might say the attorney was overpaid. However, Attorneys risk not being paid at all when their claims are unsuccessful and no lawyer wins every case. So, while an attorney may be highly compensated on a successful case, his compensation on all of his cases combined is often not excessive.
Q. How much time do I have to make my claim?
A. Some types of claims have very short deadlines to file a lawsuit. In some rare instances, the time limit within which a claim must be made is less than one year. However, in most cases the time limit is one year or longer. Legal incompetency (including being under the age of 18 or a mental disability of the injured person, such as where a guardian has been appointed) often will prevent or “toll” the running of a time limit.
TO BE SAFE, IF YOU BELIEVE YOU MAY HAVE A CLAIM, YOU SHOULD CONSULT A LAWYER EXPERIENCED IN THE SUBJECT MATTER RIGHT AWAY TO AVOID LOSS OF YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A RESULT OF THE PASSAGE OF TIME.
Q. Why do we hear so much about “frivolous lawsuits”?
A. The insurance industry and big business want us all to believe that they need protection from so-called “frivolous lawsuits” so that the public will be supportive of laws that restrict the rights of injured people in ALL lawsuits. Frivolous lawsuits are generally dismissed by judges before they get to trial. So, tort reform legislation (caps on damages, etc) generally has its greatest effect upon cases that are NOT frivolous thereby preventing wrongdoers from bearing full responsibility for the harm they cause.
Investigation- Before filing a lawsuit, a careful investigation is required to ensure that reasonable grounds exist to proceed. It is neither fair nor financially practical to pursue frivolous lawsuits. Moreover, it is to no one’s advantage to do so. Therefore, if at any stage we conclude that no reasonable grounds exist to support a claim, the claim will not be pursued.