The Stefanie Drake Burford Law Group
Professional, Approachable, Empathetic

What are the usual/average percentage fees? How do I know I'm choosing the right lawyer?

We responded to a question on AVVO.com regarding choosing an attorney, and attorney's fees. See our response below. Choosing the right attorney is an important decision. Here is the question, and some tips for choosing the right attorney for your case. We hope anyone looking for representation finds our blog helpful.

Q: I am looking for a lawyer in the Atlanta area. Many lawyers in that area have great reviews, and all they want is for me to sign a contract. I was in a car accident in Atlanta on 75 heading southbound, traffic was at a complete halt, a man hit the rear end of my 2005 Ford F-150 going 70 mph. The man at fault has insurance, but it seems they are trying to push me around. So how do I choose the best lawyer for me?

A: First, you are most likely being pushed around by the at-fault's insurance company. Keep in mind that they represent their insured, and their goal is to pay you as little as possible. I also recommend that you do not speak with them about your bodily injury, or give any statements. This is especially true when it comes to having your statement recorded. or signing something which may bind you or result in you not receiving a fair settlement or award. I always recommend speaking with an experienced PI attorney, and making sure you understand your rights and the deadlines associated with making a claim before moving forward, or before too much time passes. Missed deadlines can result in no recovery as well. With that said, when looking for an attorney, read their reviews from former and existing clients on Avvo, and other sites. Check out their website. Look at their disciplinary history on the State Bar website. Last, but not least, interview them and their case manager either over the phone or in person. You should feel comfortable while talking with him or her that he or she is qualified, experienced, and understands the law. The case manager is also important, as they will be managing your case and your point of contact on administrative matters. As far as a fee, industry standard is generally between 1/3 of the total settlement recovery and 40% if a lawsuit becomes necessary. Sometimes that can vary, but beware of attorney's who charge very discounted rates, as he or she may not be as qualified or may have lots of cases that aren't properly managed.

An injury attorney generally won't charge you unless you recover a settlement or award. You shouldn't owe any upfront fees or costs. The attorney's fees and costs aren't paid until the case is settled or an award is received. Read the fee contract carefully, and make sure the fee and cost structure is clear and you are agreeable to the terms. Ask questions, and don't sign until you are comfortable doing so. An attorney shouldn't and ethically can't act on your behalf until he or she is retained, and the fee and representation contract is signed.

Hope this helps. Good luck, and hope you are well on your way to recovery. --Stefanie

Any answers on this site are for informational purposes, and should not be construed as legal advice. Answers are for general purposes and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. Answers are not intended nor are they legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such.

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