What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is paid contingent on money being awarded to you. If no money is obtained by the lawyer in the case, then the client does not owe the lawyer a fee. If monies are recovered through a settlement or by taking the matter to trial, the lawyer will get a percentage of the total recovery.
Many of our clients are under the mistaken impression that in order to hire a lawyer for an automobile collision, truck collision or work-related injury that they must pay the attorney an hourly fee. This is incorrect. At Power Law Group, we work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee is you betting that the attorney will obtain a recovery on your behalf. In return you will not owe any attorney’s fees for pursuing the claim unless you are successful. The purpose of a contingency fee is to let injured victims have access to the legal system to make sure that they are compensated for their injuries.
The amount an attorney can charge for a contingency fee is regulated by law. In Kansas and Missouri workers’ compensation claims, the contingency fee is set at 25%. As a general rule, in all other claims such as auto collision claims, trucking accident claims, slip-and-fall accidents, dog bite and medical malpractice cases the fee is set at one-third of the total recovery. It is important to understand that contingency fees allow you access to the court system without having to pay an attorney an hourly fee. The client may still be liable for expenses that the attorney advanced on behalf of the injured party, but the party will not owe any amount for attorney’s fees unless you are successful on the claim.
What should I do after an auto accident?
1. Call the police. Even if there are no serious injuries it is a good idea to call the police. Also, make sure you file an accident report, even if the other party involved is hesitant to do so. As a general rule, your insurance company and the responsible driver’s insurance company will rely upon the police report in 6evaluating your claim. If possible, please make sure that the vehicles involved in the accident remain where they are unless the vehicles interfere with traffic.
2. Take pictures. If you happen to have a camera or cell phone in your vehicle, you should take pictures of the vehicles involved if there is physical damage, as well as the accident scene itself. Many times the investigating police officers do not take pictures of the scene or the vehicles involved. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
3. Make an accurate record. When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer exactly what happened to the best of your ability. Do not speculate, guess or misstate any facts. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, it is best to say that you are not sure. Often, the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent after the actual collision. If there are witnesses to the accident, do your best to obtain information regarding the witnesses. On many occasions, the investigative police officer will not list the name of any witnesses.
4. Exchange information. If the investigating police officer hasn’t already done so, try to get the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident. You should also obtain information about insurance by asking to see a copy of the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident. In addition, make sure you get the police report number for the collision. You can use that number later to obtain the actual police report.
5. Report the accident. Notify your own insurance company as soon as possible about the accident. Many insurance policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. In Kansas, your own policy of insurance by state law requires minimum coverage, including $4,500 in medical and up to $900 per month in lost wages, among other benefits. Ask questions if you are uncertain about your coverage. In Missouri, medical payments and lost wage coverage is optional. When you contact your agent, please make sure you ask whether there is any medical pay coverage or lost wage coverage under your policy of insurance. Once your medical bills have been exhausted through your auto insurance carrier, your private health insurance, if applicable, will then pick up any ongoing medical bills.
6. Seek appropriate medical attention. This is critical. Often injuries caused by auto accidents are not immediately apparent. Many of our clients report feeling pain a day or two following an auto accident. Unless you are absolutely certain you are not injured, you should seek medical attention at the local emergency room or by going to your family physician. Even a minor impact can cause serious and permanent injuries. Many times the responsible driver’s insurance company will claim that you were not seriously injured if you did not seek out medical treatment on a timely basis.
7. Protect your rights. Many times the responsible insurance company’s insurance adjuster will contact you directly and ask for a tape recorded statement. You are not required to give such a statement and we would advise you not to. Many times, the responsible driver’s insurance company will ask that you provide a medical authorization to them. We would advise you not to voluntarily waive your physician-patient privilege and allow them access to your medical records which may be detrimental to you in the long run. We highly advise you to contact Power Law Group to discuss your matter. Remember, insurance companies do not work for you and may not have your best interests in mind.
8. Document everything. Make sure that property damage estimates, medical bills, medical records, lost wages, pharmacy receipts and other information is kept in a file folder.
9. Never accept an insurance settlement offer without knowing your future medical conditions and/or future medical care costs. Remember, once you settle your claim you will not be able to claim any future medical expenses and any other items of damages once you sign off on the release. We would advise you to seek the advice of an experienced attorney at Power Law Group.
10. If you have been hit by someone who does not have insurance, you can still collect through uninsured motorist coverage. Many people are under the mistaken impression that if they are struck and injured by someone who did not have insurance that they are out of luck. This is incorrect. In both Kansas and Missouri, every policy of insurance requires uninsured motorist coverage. This includes you. Even if the other driver did not have insurance, your insurance company will step into the shoes of the responsible driver and pay for any damages the uninsured driver is responsible for up to the limits of your own policy. Once again, knowledge is Power. Please call Power Law Group if you have any questions about your claim when you are injured by someone who does not have any insurance.