The practice of law is becoming more and more specialized—across the nation and in Utah. In the not-too-distant-past a lawyer may have been a general practice attorney representing people in personal matters such as wills, trusts and estate law and when that person was injured their attorney may handle the injury case too.
Those days are gone because there is not simply enough time in the day for any attorney to stay up to date with so many practice areas—especially personal injury law, where the law is always in a state of flux. New decisions by the Utah Supreme Court or the Utah Court of Appeals change the contours of the law in all realms of personal injury law.
Lawyers that focus their practice on representing people injured by others allows us to focus on these changing contours of law and allows us to best represent you.
What kind of law do you practice?
This may sound like a fundamental question but there are attorneys out there that will willingly accept personal injury cases without really knowing what they are doing because they do not focus on personal injury law. Something like going to a dermatologist for a broken bone—you should go to an orthopedic surgeon—not a dermatologist. Both are doctors but do you want a dermatologist fixing your leg?
How do you go about representing people in personal injury cases?
There is no standard way that all law firms represent clients in a personal injury case—every firm does it different. The attorney you want to help you with your personal injury case should be one that is willing to accommodate what you want done. Specifically, what degree do you want to be involved in the case. Some people want to be involved in all aspects of the case and others not. Your attorney should be able to do what YOU want.
What are your fees?
There are no set fees for attorney work in Utah. We have seen fees that range from 25% to 50%. Attorney fees are the amount you pay an attorney for doing their work—let me explain. Let's say you hire an attorney and they get a $300,000 settlement. The typical fee of 1/3 would earn the attorney $100,000. This fee compensates the attorney for the work he or she has done in your case.
Do you work on contingency?
“Contingent” means dependent or conditioned on something. A contingency fee is a form of payment to a lawyer for his/her legal services. In contrast to a fixed hourly fee, in a contingent fee arrangement lawyers receive a percentage of the monetary amount his/her client receives when they win or settle their case. That is, in a contingency fee agreement, the lawyer only receives compensation if the lawyer has successfully represented the client.
If I lose, will I be responsible for any case-related costs?
“Costs” are those that the attorney pays to others in representing you in your case. There are costs associated with every case—gathering and paying for medical records or the engagement of experts for example. These costs are typically paid by the attorney during their work and paid back to the attorney by you out of the proceeds of the case. No costs should be paid back if the case does not return a favorable outcome for you.
Have you gone to trial in cases like mine?
Insurance companies know the attorneys who will and will not go to trial if necessary. It is important that the attorney you hire has a reputation of going to trial if necessary because that is the only way the insurance companies will deal with you honestly and fairly.
How long does it take to resolve a case like mine?
Many factors can influence how long it takes to resolve a case, but potential lawyers should be able to give you an estimate. The time it takes to resolve your case often depends on factors that are out of the control of the lawyer. One big issue is you—never launch your case until you know the full extent of your injuries.
What is my case worth?
At the very least, an attorney should be able to provide a spectrum and explain how various factors such as discovery, liability, and preexisting medical issues might impact a settlement offer or verdict. Do your research and use your best judgment in evaluating a potential lawyer's claims. Be wary of personal injury lawyers who make estimates that seem completely unrealistic.
Who will handle my case?
Ask who at the firm will handle the various aspects your case. Some personal injury firms like to float senior partners in front of potential clients who are never seen again once the representation agreement is signed. Ask who will be your contact and who you can expect to speak with when you have questions about your case. Ask whether less experienced associates will be handling your case and if so, who is responsible for supervising them.
George Tait Law practices personal injury litigation in the State of Utah. If you need help contact us for a no-obligation consultation. We will tell you your options and even whether you need an attorney's help. Don't let the insurance companies abuse you—they have attorneys working for them—shouldn't you have an attorney working with you?