Misconceptions in Settlement of Personal Injury Cases – What YOU SHOULD KNOW Before Signing

Attorney Fees Misconceptions

What will it cost me to hire an attorney? Attorney fees in any and every personal injury case should be in a written fee agreement. This isn’t complicated. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has model fee agreements. There are only two basic variables- the attorney’s fee and any referral fee.

The fee; many attorneys charge a one third contingency fee – and some adjust that higher or lower depending on the type of case. But it absolutely should be in writing, and YOU SHOULD KNOW what you are signing when signing – the lawyer gets his or her fee from the settlement or collection of judgment.

Any referral fee is the second thing to know. If you went to Attorney Smith and she referred you to Attorney Jones, the SJC requires that you know that Jones is giving a portion of HER fee to Smith. It’s not that important TO YOU in most instances, but it’s important sometimes as you may have other matters with the referring attorney.

Expenses Misconceptions

What are your expenses in getting your case from inception to settlement or thorough trial? How could you not know? We explain to our clients all the time that there are out of pocket costs that the client incurs, even though we are paying them all along. These could include obtaining medical records, filing suit, deposition transcripts, expert witness’ time. A simple personal injury case could have $2,000 in expenses before trial; a more complex case could have expenses $10,000 and, of course, even higher.

The point about expenses is that YOU SHOULD KNOW. It’s not hard for your lawyer to say – there will be about three depositions which will cost about $1,000 for transcripts; or, we are asking your orthopedic surgeon for a report and she is charging $2,000. Then, when the bill comes in the end, you knew all along – there would be no misconception!

When you get a written breakdown, YOU SHOULD KNOW where all of those expenses came from, and you should have known all along. There should be no surprises – s/he is YOUR lawyer!

Medical Insurance Liens – The Biggest Misconceptions

How come my medical insurance company has a lien on my personal injury case? We get calls form potential clients all the time who don’t understand this. That’s the contract you “signed” when you “signed up” with your health insurance plan. And it’s the law. After PIP and Med Pay are paid from your auto insurance directly to the medical providers, the rest of the medical bills go to YOU, that is, your medical insurance company – Blue Cross, Harvard Pilgram, MassHealth, Medicare, etc. If you have medical insurance, the bills go to them – after you pay the deductibles and copays. And they have a “lien” on your case – if you don’t have a case, or don’t settle, or lose at trial, there is no lien. But, YOU SHOLD KNOW about this lien this from the beginning of your case. There should be no misconception.

So, given that, how can you best position yourself? First, be sure any settlement that you discuss – either by yourself with the liability insurance company, or with your lawyer – has this part of the equation in it. You should not sign a Settlement Release absent knowing and understanding this attribute.

Can these insurance liens be reduced? Absolutely! First, your lawyer should be helping reduce the lien at the VERY BEGINGING by sending bills to PIP – your no fault company. Second, your attorney should be negotiating with your medical insurance company – and s/he should be doing this all along. Medical insurance companies love getting reimbursed; but they don’t appreciate a last-minute effort to reduce their lien – they want to know the story, the big picture, and be able to make an informed decision about reduction when the time comes. YOU SHOULD KNOW when you go to sign a Release that these liens exist.

Call An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney That Also Concentrates in Legal Malpractice – Avoid Misconceptions

Neil Burns and Roshan Jain are experienced personal injury attorneys. They also concentrate in legal malpractice. If your lawyer has mislead you, or taken monies, or wants you to sign a Settlement Release without showing you a breakdown in the Settlement, call Burns & Jain for a free consultation. Neil and Roshan, and their team, let you know WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW from the beginning. And the middle. And the end of your case as well! If you think you can settle your own case, but don’t understand the medical liens situation, call Burns and Jain for a free initial consultation. Call Attorney Neil Burns and Attorney Roshan Jain – 617-227-7423.