“Ask The Hammer” – Exploring the Legal Matters That Matter Most
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“Ask the Hammer” is the radio show with attorney Darryl Isaacs, “The Hammer.” You can submit your questions via Facebook or Twitter using #askthehammer. Also reach out to us using the contact form on this page or give the offices of Isaacs & Isaacs a call at 800-800-8888. We’d love to use your questions on the show!
How Does the Personal Injury Claims Process Work?
Questions answered in this episode:
- What will the agreement look like with a lawyer?
- Money talk: “If we lose, you pay nothing!” How does contingent payment work?
- How much do lawyers charge clients in personal injury cases?
- What is a retainer and when is it used?
- Does the law firm investigate my car accident?
- How much do attorneys involve the client / victim in the claims process?
- What kinds of documents and information do I bring to my first meeting with an attorney?
- Our social media question of the week – the questions listeners Ask The Hammer
Episode 2 Transcription
Welcome to Ask the Hammer, the podcast exploring the legal matters that matter most. I’m your host, Jeremy Kocal, and as always we are here with attorney Darryl Isaacs, “The Hammer,” ready to take on the most popular questions about law.
Today’s episode: How does the personal injury claims process work? We’ll talk about money, which documents to bring to your first lawyer meeting and how you and your attorney can create a great team together.
Once that agreement has been verbally acknowledged, you move on to a written agreement between the attorney and the client. Is there a difference in how you think of a retainer agreement or a letter of engagement? Are those the same thing? Which one do you use?
Well, just a real simple… we sign a civil contract and make it real simple. The contract is giving the law firm, let’s say it’s us, written permission to represent an act on behalf of the client. And the client is signing the agreement saying, “I authorize you attorney, or Darryl or Isaacs and Isaacs to handle my affairs and get a recovery and do the best you can.” And then also besides the civil contract we will have the client sign what’s called a medical authorization so we can talk to doctors, or get medical records or documentations.
It’s different, a lot of people when they think of a retainer, that’s when you get a divorce. “OK you are going to represent me and you want a $3,000 retainer.” So when it comes to personal injury, I just like to think of the contract and medical authorization. You don’t pay any money up front, there’s no retainer fee, just to make it simple, it’s just a contract.
How about the investigating that needs to be done sometimes at the scene of a crime or speaking to police officers? Is that handled all by the attorneys or your team?
Yes. Absolutely. We have an investigator and we want to get pictures of the scene. You know if there are skid marks. If it’s a truck case, we might get a truck expert. We like to get experts and we like to do our investigation. And that’s the thing, the more the law firm can do I think the better the case will be. We just kind of hope that the client will just take care of the medical portion – going to the doctors, doing therapy, doing whatever the doctor tells them – and we’ll handle everything else.
I don’t want to be fancy. A lot of these people that come to us, they’re intimidated by lawyers … you just want things simple. You know, I don’t want to try to use fancy words. Law can be very intimidating. So, we just kind of use more of a friendly approach and we want to be very accessible.
Once the agreement and the attorney / client relationship begins, would you say it’s quite a team effort. Are you needing just as much from the client?
Absolutely. Yeah, we use a case management system and we will contact the client or a lot of times they will call us. If we haven’t heard from the client, we try to reach out to them at least every 30 days. And sometimes we’re bombarding them with letters or emails and “how’s the treatment going? Do you have any bills? Is there anything we can do?” We want to have an ongoing relationship and we want the client to communicate with us and you know, if they go to a doctor, we want to know what the doctor told them. Or if they need treatment, we want to know what kind of treatment they are getting. The more information they can give us, the more we can help them on their case.
And then as far as what kind of documents they’re going to be bringing or what kind of information they are going to be bringing to a first meeting?
A police report is a must. We can get it if they don’t have it. But what we ask them is, we want any of their car or auto insurance information, policies, if they wrote a check, if they have a bill if they went to any doctors or hospitals or emergency rooms, whatever documentations they got – just anything they can tell us which will aid us in understanding their injury, their loss, what they’re going through.
All right Darryl, I want to talk money now. A lot of people are concerned about what they have to shell out to attorneys, if they’re getting a fair rate, and exactly how the process works of paying an attorney.
A lot of the ads say, “You pay nothing until we win your case.” Can you tell us about contingency, contingency payment? What is that? Define it for us. Do you use it? And why?
Sure. What contingency is, is a percent of the recovery. So, for instance, if we work on your case for five years, it doesn’t matter if we put 5,000 hours or 50,000 hours, you’re going to pay us a percent of what we collect. If we go through and let’s say we never collect anything or we have a trial and lose, then you pay us zero.
It’s really the best of both worlds. The attorney has so much incentive – the more money they get for you the more they are going to recover. But also, you’re not getting nickel and dimed for every phone call they may make on your case. Or let’s say today I went and met with a doctor on a client’s case, they don’t pay anything for that. The attorney is going to do whatever they can to make the case get the maximum recovery.
So contingency has just proven itself. It’s just one area of the law that the clients really have an advantage. You know, a lot of times you’ll hear about people going through a messy divorce and they may pay a ton of money, every time they talk to an attorney, or they get into an argument, they’re getting billed. It doesn’t matter if they win or lose, they’re going to pay regardless. So, contingency is the opposite – unless the attorney wins or settles your case, you pay them nothing.
As far as sharing a general range – you know, obviously every case is going to be different, and every circumstance is going to be different … is there a general range that you are comfortable sharing with people and what you see out there as the standard?
Sure. Standards changed over the years. We charge 40 percent and the clients get 60 percent. We advance or front any legal expenses on the case, so the client never even pays that during the case. And if we settle or win we get reimbursed. If we’ve put money out on the case and then we lose or never get a recovery, we don’t get that back so the client is not out any monies.
I’ve seen it anywhere from 33 to 50 percent. Some attorneys will charge interest on the expenses. We charges 40 percent whether we file sue or not, whether it’s appealed or not. It’s just has worked well for us and it’s worked well for the client. I always like the incentive – the more you do the better off everybody is. I just would be leery on ever hiring an attorney who wanted an hourly fee versus a contingency on a personal injury case. Now again, my caveat is, divorce, bankruptcy – a lot of them it’s different. You’re not going to do contingent, but when it comes to personal injury, you want the burden on the law firm or the attorney to win or get a nice settlement versus trying to pay at an hourly rate.
OK Darryl, we turn once again to social media and the questions that people want to Ask The Hammer on Facebook & Twitter. Here’s the question for today:
I was injured in a car crash, I don’t know if I have enough evidence to move forward with a case, what is your suggestion for my next move?
OK, legitimate question here. So when someone sits down with you and thinks they may not have a case, are there times when you ask questions and investigate and realize, wow, yes, you really do have a case.
Sure. Each state has a different requirement to bring a claim. So like in Kentucky, for example, if you’re in a car wreck, the requirement is for you to bring a claim for money damages. You have to have either a permanent injury, permanent scar, $1,000 in medical bill treatment. So a lot of times, let say a person’s in an accident, they get admitted to the hospital for three or four days, and then, couple weeks later, they’re better. They might follow up with the doctor. They may think, “well I’m not really hurt that bad,” but being in the hospital and getting care for three or four days might be a $5,000 or $10,000 bill. So they have a much better case than they would even think of.
And here’s our legal disclaimer:
This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever. If you have specific legal questions, contact an attorney to discuss specific legal matters about your case. The attorneys of Isaacs and Isaacs operate nationally with their primary office in Louisville, Kentucky. Listeners should note that legal services may be performed by others.”
Join us next time with Darryl Isaacs on Ask the Hammer. Thanks for listening.
Get Your Question Answered By Darryl Isaacs
Interested in submitting your question to Darryl Isaacs on Ask The Hammer? Reach out using the contact form on this page or give the team at Isaacs and Isaacs a call at 800-800-8888.