Interviewer: Are lawyers paid on a contingency basis when it comes to personal injury?
Robert Cummings: Yes, most personal injury attorneys take on cases on a contingency basis. This means that you don’t pay the attorney, and you don’t cover costs unless you recover money. There’s no out-of-pocket expense to the client. Generally, the contingency fee ranges on whether you resolve the case pre-litigation, or whether the attorney has to file a law suit and actually litigate the case, which is more expensive for the attorney, because they have to take on the costs of the filing fees, the discovery fees, the deposition costs, and what have you.
There are Certain Ethical Rules as to How Much An Attorney Can Charge on a Contingency
The fee that attorneys generally charge depends on a lot of factors. Also, it will range on the difficulty of the case. The percentages out there can be anything from 20 percent to 40 percent, and there are certain ethical rules as to how much an attorney can charge on a contingency. Also, as a client, you should have that contingency fee in writing, and there should be an engagement letter so that it’s fully disclosed to you on what you will ultimately be covering if you do receive a settlement, what you won’t be covering, and what you can expect to receive in the end. There’s ethics rules in Utah that require attorneys to provide their clients with the contingency agreement in writing.
It is Imperative to Notify the Government of the Claim Within 1 Year of Reasonably Knowing About the Claim
I do want to bring up one aspect, and I don’t know where this will fit in, but if you could fit it in somewhere. An important part of taking on personal injury cases, if the government is involved in any way … For example, if you get injured on a freeway accident, and there’s not proper signage, or there wasn’t a proper barricade, or if as a broad example of a person being injured while in jail or in state custody, and you have a claim against the government, those claims are handled differently, and have a different statute of limitations. For example, if you have a claim against, say, Salt Lake City, you have to put Salt Lake City on notice, and send them a specific notice pursuant to statute, notifying them of the claim, within 1 year of when you reasonably should have known that you had a claim. Thereafter, the city can respond to your demand or your notice, and let you know whether they believe they are liable and will pay, or whether they deny the claim. If 60 days passes, the statute says that the city has effectively denied the claim, you then have 1 year to file a law suit