How do you charge for your services?
Virtually all of the work that I do is on a contingency fee basis. This means that recovery of my fees is dependent upon my collecting money from the parties responsible. “No recovery, no fee” is the shorthand version of this explanation you usually see in television and print ads.
How is the amount of the fee determined?
It depends on the type of case and the circumstances involved in the case. The fee for collecting in a rear-end automobile collision, for example would be less than that for collecting in a medical malpractice or slip and fall case. In some cases, the attorneys fees are set by statute – for example, cases brought under the Federal Employee Liability Act (i.e. when the defendant is a federal employee).
How is the fee calculated?
The attorney’s fee percentage is taken from the gross amount of recovery. In other words, the fee is calculated on and subtracted from the total amount of the funds recovered from the defendant. After the fee has been deducted, deductions are made for the court costs and other out of pocket expenses which have gone into prosecuting the case. After the fees and costs are deducted, we address any liens or subrogation interests of health insurers, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.- and then the balance is paid to the client.
Why is your fee based on a gross recovery and not a net recovery?
I believe an impermissible conflict of interest arises when an attorney charges a contingency fee on any other basis. If the attorney knows that the cost of depositions, medical records, expert witnesses, etc. will be taken out of his fee, it places the attorney in a potential conflict of interest with his own client since, for example, the attorney might forego taking a needed deposition to save costs. This would compromise his ethical obligations to his client and an attorney must avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
What kind of cases do you handle?
Virtually all types of personal injury cLaims. For example, those involving automobile/truck collisions, slip, trip, and fall cases, medical malpractice, product liability and wrongful death, in other words almost any type of situation where a person has been injured through the negligence and/or responsibility of another person and/or party.
Will you handle my case if I already have an attorney but am dissatisfied with his/her services?
Generally not, because I have had bad experiences in trying to “take over” cases from other attorneys. Usually when the client is dissatisfied with the attorney, it is for a good reason. I have reviewed cases where crucial questions were not asked at a deposition, for example, and this tainted the whole case. This really puts anyone trying to “pickup the pieces” at a severe disadvantage. While I am willing to meet with you to discuss your case, there are ethical considerations involved and I will not try to “steal” another lawyer’s case. If I do agree to take over your case, all ethical guidelines will be followed. Again, there are ethical considerations involved in this type of situation and I am pretty picky about following them.
Have you ever had an ethical complaint filed against you?
No. I have never had a complaint of any kind filed against me. I believe most complaints that clients have against their own attorneys arise out of the fact that the attorney, for some reason, is either too disorganized or too indifferent to keep the client advised of the significant events in the prosecution of their case as they occur. Another common complaint against attorneys arises out of their failure to return phone calls. These things can easily be avoided by periodically giving the client updates, sending them copies of correspondence, pleadings, etc.- and returning their phone calls. In my practice, I keep my clients advised as to the status of their case and take and return their phone calls.
If I live in Louisiana and have been injured in another state, can you handle my case?
Yes. I have handled cases in a number of different states. I will associate an attorney in the state who will file a motion with the local court to allow me to practice in that jurisdiction. I rely on this local counsel to handle routine motions, discovery disputes, scheduling conferences, etc. This not only saves my time but also the client’s money since there is really no need for me to be flying all over the place for such routine matters. In my experience, although laws vary from state to state – and each state has its own “quirks”- the presentation of an injury claim is pretty much the same, the preparation is the same, and a jury will respond the same to a properly prepared and presented personal injury claim, regardless of where the case is tried.
If I live in another state and am injured in Louisiana, can you handle my case?
Yes, I handle cases referred to me by attorneys in other states all the time. If you are injured in Louisiana, Louisiana will have jurisdiction over your case and the matter will be tried here.
Can I expect to receive my money quickly?
Generally no. Anyone who tells you differently is lying to you in an attempt to get your business. The truth of the matter is, the wheels of justice grind slowly. Those advertisements that you see promising “quick cash” are, in my opinion, misleading. Often times the full extent of an injury is not realized or appreciated, even by attending physicians, until some time has passed. Likewise, it is almost impossible for anyone to know without a crystal ball, what the long term effects of an injury will be on your earning capacity, without some experience over time. I frequently get calls from people who want to know if there is anything that I can do to assist them when another attorney has already settled their case, but now their medical condition has deteriorated to the point where they, for example, need an operation. I hate to get these calls because there is nothing I can do for these folks. Generally once you have signed that release (with very, very few exceptions) you have pretty well shot yourself in the foot as far as getting any additional recovery when your condition worsens. I believe the worse thing that a lawyer can do in representing a client is to put his interest first – in other words, to process the client’s claim for a quick settlement without fully and adequately investigating the possible long term effects of an injury on a person’s ability to earn their living, failing to take into account the future medical needs that might arise out of an injury, and so forth. I am not in a hurry to get a quick settlement, because I have seen too many cases where injured people were not fully compensated because their attorney was more interested in closing the case out and putting money in his pocket than he was in representing a client the way a client is supposed to be represented.
Why do you limit your practice to representing injured people?
When my Dad was an attorney, attorneys were “all things to all people.” In other words, he would – and could – handle just about any type of case that came into his office – whether it involved real estate, collection of a debt, family court matters, commercial loans, or injury cases. I believe those days are gone-just like, in medicine, doctors now specialize in particular areas, so should attorneys. I don’t believe that, considering the nature of the law today, an attorney can honestly purport to be an “expert” at all things. In the injury law field, different types of cases will have different sets of laws unique to the case. For example, if you fall in a grocery store, your case will be handled under the “Merchant’s Liability Act.” If you are the victim of medical negligence, your case will be handled pursuant to the “Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act.” If you are injured by a defective product, your case will be governed by the “Louisiana Products Liability Act”. If an attorney doesn’t regularly practice in these areas, he simply cannot keep up with all the legislative and jurisprudential changes that take place. All of these areas of law, including motor vehicle liability law, “evolve” through changes made by new laws passed by legislature, and new interpretations of those laws made by our courts. I read and regularly consult at least ten different sources every month to try to keep abreast of these changes, so that I can represent my clients in these areas the way they deserve to be represented.
Are you a specialist in any area?
The Louisiana Supreme Court, at the present time, only recognizes legal specialties in limited areas of practice such as bankruptcy, family law, and tax law. I am Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocates and this certification is recognized in Louisiana – but as a general certification that pertains to civil trials. Civil cases are those involving disputes between people – or people and a defendant company or insurance company-as opposed to a criminal trial which, obviously involves the state as a prosecutor and the individual as defendant. I do not do criminal work. My practice is limited to civil actions.
What do I do if I decide I want you to represent me?
When you call my office, my assistant will discuss very briefly with you the nature of your claim to insure it is something that I will be able to help you with. If you have suffered personal injury because of the negligence and/or fault and/or responsibility of another person, company, doctor, or insurer – odds are it would be something I would feel comfortable handling for you. You should make up your own mind as to my qualifications, however, by making an appointment and meeting with me face to face. I understand that the people that come to see me are under great stress, they are suffering from their injuries, they are scared about the future, and they are scared of the legal process. They want and deserve someone who will be their advisor, their protector, and their champion in court. A face-to-face meeting, if possible for you, will be the best way for you to decide this important matter.