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The How and Why of EagleFee

The underlying concept of EagleFee is that each injury claim is unique.  Though this may seem self-evident, the traditional legal fee charged claimants fails to account for this fact.  Generally, tort victims are represented on the basis of a contingent fee. A tort is a wrongful act causing injury to another.  A contingent fee contract is an agreement between client and lawyer stating the lawyer will represent the claimant in exchange for a percentage of any monies recovered. Though specific terms of contingent fee agreements may vary, they generally share a common component: the percentage of recovery charged.  The traditional fee is one third of the gross recovery. Contingent fee contracts can also be used for business disputes such as breach of contract claims. EagleFee asks and answers the question: why doesn’t the percentage fee charged reflect the merits of the claim?

Most tort cases can be broken down to two fundamental components: liability and damages.  Liability involves a determination of who is at fault for an injury. Generally speaking, a successful claimant is only entitled to recover money from people or entities whose behavior causes an injury. Damages are the monies awarded to compensate for the injuries received. Injuries can take many forms  including physical and psychological injuries, medical bills, lost time from work, economic and property damage.  In a contingent fee case, the client does not pay the lawyer until money damages are collected.  It is from these damages that the lawyer is paid.

Some cases are easy to prove: liability and damages are clear. In other cases,  establishing who is at fault  or whether there is a relationship between the wrongful act and a particular injury is more difficult.  The lawyer’s job is threefold:    1) to establish liability, 2) to prove that particular injuries resulted from the wrongful act, and 3) to collect money damages from the responsible party.  The amount of time and energy required to resolve each case varies enormously.  The standard 1/3 contingent fee ignores this fact.  EagleFee allows clients and lawyers to make informed decisions about what represents a fair percentage for each case depending on its merits.

More specific, step by step directions can be found in both the claimant and attorney instructions and FAQ sections of the website.  Basically, however, EagleFee works as follows: injured parties submit (download, fax or mail) already prepared reports (ex. traffic accident reports, internal accident reports, OSHA findings, medical report summaries, discharge notes, photographs etc.) for posting on the EagleFee website.   Any lawyer can review this material. Lawyers interested in representing the claimant pay a low fee to send a private offer of up to 500 words to the Claimant.  This e-mail must include contact information and a proposed percentage fee to undertake the representation.  The e-mail can also include links to a lawyer’s website and information pertaining to the lawyer’s qualifications (experience, prosecution of similar cases, legal analysis etc.).  The client then compares the submitted information along with any additional public information before deciding which lawyer(s) to contact.  EagleFee empowers clients to make informed decisions about which attorneys to contact and what is a reasonable fee for their representation.  EagleFee allows lawyers to review actual, non-privileged information concerning a case to determine its merits, whether a conflict exists,  and what percentage fee appears reasonable based upon the documents submitted. Finally,  by introducing claimants directly to trial lawyers,  EagleFee eliminates the need for fee-splitting between forwarders and prosecuting lawyers.  Introducing this efficiency allows both claimants and lawyers to pay lower fees thereby maximizing recovery from each case.

Future posts will discuss in greater detail the advantages EagleFee offers both clients and attorneys, how EagleFee differs from other web based attempts to match clients with lawyers and why the traditional means of establishing client lawyer relationships is flawed.