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Why Injury Victims Should Use EagleFee

If you’ve been injured, EagleFee offers you the best opportunity to find the right legal representation at a reasonable price.  EagleFee provides a forum for many lawyers to review the facts of your case and then to decide what percentage fee they would charge to represent you.  Lawyers will  also send you a confidential communication explaining their thoughts on your case and why they are best qualified to represent you. You can research these lawyers and decide which of them to contact.

Why You Want To Hire A Trial Lawyer

If you’ve been injured, whether in an accident or in a business dispute,  you want a real trial lawyer to represent you. The reason for this is simple:  without the coercive specter of a judge and trial backing up your claim,  the person responsible for paying for your injuries has little incentive to take you seriously.  The only way the liable person or insurer can be made to pay you is through a court order. Without the threat of court intervention,  the only way you get paid is if the responsible party feels like paying you.

Of course, its not always necessary to file a lawsuit to resolve a claim.  Many cases are settled before a suit is filed. Unless, however, the threat of a lawsuit exists,  there is nothing to make the responsible party act reasonably.

Trial lawyers are attorneys willing and qualified to file lawsuits and pursue them through the courts.  Many lawyers who advertise for injury cases do not actually try cases or even file lawsuits.  These lawyers agree to represent injury victims in the hope that they can arrange a settlement without having to file suit or can refer the claim to a trial lawyer in return for keeping a part of, or splitting, any legal fee earned.  Not surprisingly,  lawyers who won’t go into court don’t have the same leverage to make responsible parties pay as do trial lawyers. Why would any insurance company make the same settlement offer to a lawyer who can’t enforce a claim as it would to a lawyer with a record of suing wrongdoers and getting the courts to make them pay?

This Blog will discuss the subject of referral and TV lawyers at some length in the future.  For present purposes,  it is enough to recognize that your are best served by dealing directly with trial lawyers who have the ability to enforce your claim though the courts should it become necessary. The good news is that there is no shortage of qualified trial lawyers looking for viable injury claims. Hiring a trial lawyer at the outset can substantially lower your legal fees.

Contingent Fees

All injury claims are different.  The lawyer’s job is to determine who was responsible for the accident, what injuries were caused by it, and to make that party or its insurer pay for your injuries.  Sometimes this is a long, arduous process and sometimes it is relatively easy.

The products lawyers have to sell are their time and skill.  When you hire a lawyer you are buying a portion of the time he has available to make a living.  Whether you pay a lawyer by the hour or through a contingent fee agreement, you are purchasing his time to complete your claim.  It makes sense that a lawyer should earn more for handling a  difficult, time consuming claim than one that can be resolved quickly.

The problem with a “standard” contingent fee is that it fails to account for the varying degree of difficulty each case represents. Take a simple example:  assume two cases with equal injuries but in the first case liability is clear and in the second external factors complicate the determination of fault.  The first case gets settled routinely and requires only 10 hours of the lawyer’s time.  The second case requires a lawsuit and 100 hours of  lawyer time. Under the traditional one third contingent fee percentage, if both cases are resolved for $100,000 the lawyer’s fee is $33,333.33.  In the first case the client would be paying her lawyer $3,333.33 per hour; the second client would pay $333.33 for each hour of lawyer time spent on her case.  Why should the client with the easy case have to pay her lawyer a fee 10 times that of the person whose case is more difficult?

Lawyers are business people; case evaluation necessarily includes an analysis of how much money the lawyer is likely to earn.   Money damages are awarded to compensate victims for their injuries.  All things being equal, the greater the injury, the  higher the potential recovery.  Under a contingent fee contract, the lawyer’s fee is a percentage of the money paid the victim in compensation. Lawyers, therefore, value cases of substantial injury more highly than those involving less severe harm. Assuming equal liability, why should the more seriously injured claimant pay the same percentage fee and, therefore, substantially more money,  than someone with less severe injuries?

A Market-Based Approach

The only way to avoid paying the “standard” contingent fee is to create a market for your case. Let numerous lawyers examine the facts of your case and decide what it is worth to them.  The lawyers who really want to represent you can tell you why they are qualified and propose a reasonable fee for their services.  Knowing that other lawyers are also reviewing your case provides incentives for each lawyer to present her best offer.  You can evaluate these offers and research the authors before deciding which lawyer(s) to contact.

EagleFee allows you to compare multiple lawyers without the pressure and inconvenience of visiting numerous law offices. Visit each lawyer’s website.  Google each lawyer, have any of them been written up in the press, is the coverage good or bad? Have they recently participated in any noteworthy cases or trials?  Visit your state’s bar association and  Board of Bar Overseers’ websites; have any of the lawyers been sanctioned for misconduct? Visit EagleFee’s new FAQ: State by State List of Useful Sites for Injury Victims,  to find links to agencies responsible for tracking lawyer disciplinary records, Performing your own due diligence online is easy and well worth your while in deciding who will represent you.  Evaluate each offer not simply on the percentage fee proposed,  but based on the lawyer’s reputation and experience as well as the substance of any case analysis offered.

Fee Splitting

EagleFee also reduces the cost of representation by eliminating a historic inefficiency in the way people hire contingent fee lawyers. Claimants often initially hire unqualified lawyers.   This happens because people many times contact the last lawyer with whom they have had contact in the mistaken belief that all lawyers are trial lawyers.   Trial lawyers, however,  are the exception, not the rule.  The lawyer who was present when you closed on your house or who took care of that traffic infraction  may not try injury cases.  This does not mean, however,  the lawyer won’t be happy to sit down with you, discuss your injury case and have you sign a contingent fee agreement.  The reason for this is fee-splitting.

Fee-Splitting is a practice found in most jurisdictions.   It allows one lawyer, the forwarder, to refer you to a lawyer who actually practices injury law.  In return for the referral, the forwarder receives a portion of the fee earned by the lawyer who prosecutes your case.  The referral fee is often 1/3 of the total fee.  Using hard numbers, if your case settles for $ 100,000 and the agreed upon contingent fee is 1/3rd,  or $ 33,333, the forwarding lawyer earns $ 11,111 often for doing little more than sending you to qualified counsel.  This does not mean you pay more than the 1/3rd fee that you originally agreed to,  only that the forwarding and prosecuting lawyers split the original fee.

By creating a market for your case that actual trial lawyers can access, EagleFee eliminates the role of the referring lawyer. Put simply, the elimination of the margin forwarders relie on makes them obsolete.  A forwarding attorney will not be able to make a competitive bid and then refer you to a trial lawyer with the expectation of splitting an already discounted fee. Assuming you have a viable claim, trial lawyers will be able to pass on all or a portion of the fee that was once reserved for forwarding attorneys. Because there is no forwarding fee, the lawyer who  actually represents you can do so for a lower contingent fee without losing money.  Essentially, EagleFee cuts out the middleman benefitting both claimant and lawyer.