Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Who Pays Your Personal Injury Lawyer After an Auto Accident?

The auto insurance company is refusing to pay your medical bills and collections companies are calling you directly. The last thing you want to do is pay more money to an attorney to get help. The good news is that in many cases, you aren’t the one that pays your personal injury lawyer after an auto accident.

Lawyers’ Contingency Fee Agreements Explained

Most personal injury attorneys work using contingency fee agreements. With other types of lawyers you may be asked to put down several thousand dollars as a “retainer” just to bring them on to your case. But after an auto accident, you may not have that money available up front.
Instead, a contingency fee agreement says that the lawyer will be paid at the end of your case. You agree that the lawyer will receive a fixed percentage of any amount received for a jury or settlement. However, legal fees aren’t the only thing that can come out of your award. In most cases, the payment on a judgment is distributed like this:
  1. Expert witness fees, deposition costs, and other litigation expenses are paid first.
  2. The contingency fee comes out second.
  3. Outstanding medical bills, attendant care invoices, and other personal creditor bills are paid third.
  4. You receive the rest.
Sometimes, a medical provider will file a lien with your attorney. This ensures that the doctor or hospital will be paid before the lawyers.

Michigan No-Fault Attorney Fee Awards

When an auto insurance company drags its feet and refuses to pay your auto accident claim on time it can cost you a lot of money. Your lawyers will need to do more work and bring in more experts, driving up the cost of your lawsuit. At the same time, your medical bills are still due, and probably gathering interest.

Michigan law says if the court finds that your insurer unreasonably refused to pay your claim or delayed making that payment, you can be awarded attorney fees on top of the benefits. In addition, the insurance company will be charged interest for the period when it should have paid, but didn’t.
You may also be entitled to attorney fees if an insurance adjuster refuses to accept a case evaluation settlement recommendation, assuming that the defense does no better at trial. If it can’t produce a more favorable verdict, the insurance company will be ordered to pay that part of your attorney fees incurred after it refused settlement.

Money can get tight after an auto accident. You shouldn’t have to worry about who pays your personal injury lawyer. Contingency fee agreements and court awarded attorney fees can make sure you get the money you need to focus on your recovery.

Dani K. Liblang is a personal injury attorney at The Liblang Law Firm, PC, in Birmingham, Michigan. If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact The Liblang Law Firm, PC, for a free consultation.

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