Veteran Owned Accident Firm Fights For Your Personal Injury Rights.
Free Phone Consultation. No Win - No Fee.
CALL (213) 596-9642

Month: November 2018

What Legal Theories Do Lawyers Use to Prove Night Club Bouncer Assault and Unsafe Building Hazards Cases?

Negligent Unshaven Security Guard - Bouncer

Gatherings at night clubs or bars are thought of as a way to have fun with a friend or group of friends. People do not expect to be hurt when visiting these types of establishments. In fact, they expect the bouncers to keep order and the building to be safe.

There are many legal theories lawyers use to prove a case like this. But first you need to understand some basics, so here we go.

Constructive knowledge is the term that indicates such knowledge. It is to become assessed in these cases what had been happening around the business in the past.

Failing to provide adequate security doesn’t just mean hiring a guard. It also means guarding against dangerous conditions on your property.

For example:

  • Consuming alcohol diminishes your inhibitions, and this can lead to problems like tripping at a bar. 
  • Slipping and falling on liquid, a chair or table in a high traffic area of an eatery is a typical scenario we also see.  
  • But crimes and bouncer assaults are also a risk of harm to customers.

Type of harm suffered in negligence security cases includes:

  • Head trauma
  • Broken bones or sprains. 

These types of incidents happen due to a defect or failure by the property owner or management. So they fail to maintain the building securely and properly.

The other types of harm that can occur may include criminal conduct in the form of:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Rape, and in rare cases, death.

What is The Main Function of Security Guards?

Most bouncer attack lawyers will tell you that patrons of a nightclub or bar are normally not concerned with criminal dangers. After all, these establishments usually have security guards right? Yes, they are referred to as bouncers.

And their job is to protect you and the club, or bar, etc. If there is a scuffle, they must peacefully try to diffuse the situation.

  • Bouncers are usually large men with presence enough to keep patrons from misbehaving. (Read more here.)

So the bouncer is usually the employee who will have contact and cooperate with the police. These are situations where the police are involved in subduing crime or responding to a potential crime. But the bouncer is not usually a sworn peace officer.

He is expected to observe, report and refrain from using emotions. And this is no easy task when dealing with patrons who may behave badly.

Sometimes customers are out of line and want to test their mixed martial arts skills on the bouncer or another visitor. In other cases the security guard can step over the line of their intended functions.

So now, rather than controlling dangerous situations, the bouncer makes it worse. If so, liability attaches.

What Are Some Examples of Bouncer Assaults?

There have been reported incidences and arrests of violent bouncers. Most happened in situations where bouncers assaulted patrons of nightclubs or bars.

In that case, a video went viral on the internet. Sadly, the security guard/ bouncer was seen punching the patron and then robbing him in the bathroom of a strip club. The bouncer later said he believed the man was dealing drugs in the club.

The man required emergency surgery. The bouncer was arrested and charged with assault and endangerment.

  • In Lawton Kansas, a veteran was attacked by a bouncer in a night club, with the soldier being beaten to the point that his face was fractured.

He required facial reconstructive surgery after being injured by an improvised explosive device prior to that beating. Police suspected this bouncer of two similar assaults that occurred at the same club!

  • In Henderson Kentucky, a patron ended up dead after complaining about his drink.
  • Police observed a photo that was taken the same night as the altercation, where one of the security team can be seen holding a baton. (Read More Here.)

Police believed it was the same baton witnesses claim saw striking the man who had complained about his drink. The bouncer was arrested, charged with murder and released on $50,000 bail.

  • Bouncers harming a patron can be criminally charged. And the patron who was hurt may be able to bring a lawsuit against the bouncer and the night club or bar.
  • The bar or night club owner can be held liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent entrustment (examples include a road rage employee given a company vehicle), negligent hiring, negligent retention, and even dram shop. (depending on your jurisdiction.)
  • In the event of death, all defendants can face a wrongful death lawsuit.

What is Security Negligence?

When businesses fail to provide the needed security to their customers its said that they showed negligence towards security measures. A business that has the public coming within its premises has to provide security to its customers.

In other words, if it is within the knowledge of the business that crimes, or even a trip and fall can occur it becomes a responsibility for business to protect its patrons.

If a crime causes harm the patron or his personal property, the business will become held liable. What about when a gang banger shoots up a club or a disco? Well, if the owner knows it’s a possibility, it is a foreseeable crime.

In other words, was there a history, or knowledge that gang-bangers have caused trouble in the area? If so, liability attaches.

From foreseeability we mean that it was in the knowledge of the business (the runners of the business) that a crime can take place.

Negligent security can occur when bouncers or owners and employees do not perform the functions they were hired for properly. So the result is a patron being harmed.

Below are some of the most common claims against establishments.

  • The security guard or bouncer failed to take action.
  • The patron was not protected from being harmed.
  • Knowledge of violence by the owner of crimes, or violent behavior of the bouncer can also be used when a bouncer attacks a patron.

What is Owner Premises Liability?

When a guest of a nightclub or bar is hurt, under the legal theory of premises liability. Premises liability in the state of California outlines that the owner of a property has a duty to provide reasonable safe conditions. And this duty includes preventing any foreseeable harm to any visitor to the business.

Negligent actions by the employees of a bar or nightclub owner in the performance of their duties can make them liable to you. But you must suffer harm. That is what gives rise to your money damages award.

  • For example, liability could exist because security had been alerted to a slippery spill, but it was not cleaned up quickly.
  • So now another patron has a slip and fall incident with serious injuries.
  • In that case, the owner could be held liable for negligent premises liability.

What is the Stance of Defense Counsel?

Attorneys for the defense will almost always argue they had no knowledge of any potential problem. They will come up with a litany of excuses to avoid paying for the injuries.

So victims at the bar, nightclub, or regular old corporate offices have to prove the case. We just discussed that courts will look for whether or not a duty is owed. The defense will argue that even if the duty was breached, it was not foreseeable.

So no liability lies even if someone was hurt from a crime. Plus, the mere fact a crime took place while you were hanging out matters not since it was not a PSI.

If those basic things are not present, the jury instructions will provide the framework to the trier of fact to find zero or partial liability.

Series 1000 – Premises Liability

What’s The Foreseeability Of Crime Test?

Whether the victim will win in a case where a third party committed a crime against you majorly depends on proving foreseeability of the crime.  Most of this test comes from case law. And as will be discussed, some courts have different thresholds and variations of this test in California.

But non the less, this is the threshold you must meet. If not, the court could dismiss your case with, or without prejudice to you re-filing the case.

So naturally, a true personal injury warrior will note that this is a very important element. This must become nailed down before you consider moving forward with your lawsuit. From foreseeability we mean that it was in the knowledge of the business (the runners of the business) that a crime can take place at or near the place.

What About the Businesses’ Knowledge of Prior Crimes or Accidents to Show Foreseeability?

In some cases, it’s implied that the business should have been aware of the fact that a crime or other dangers could happen on the premises.

Examples of non criminal events giving rise to landlord liability could be where could be:

  • Falling objects. For example, a ceiling fixture breaking loose from its anchors and falling on your head. 
  • Trash in a parking area. This type of rubbish can hide or block liquid and grease, causing a slip, trip and fall case.

But how do you show the owner knew or should have known about the criminal or civil dangers to guests. Well, one way is to show they knew the ceiling was collapsing, or the trash in the garage was a fall hazard. However, most of the time it is not that easy.  Most of the time we lawyers use the concept of constructive or implied knowledge.

  • Constructive knowledge is the term that indicates such knowledge. It is to become assessed in these cases what had been happening around the business in the past.

Any crime that took place in the past that gave an indication that a crime might take place is enough reason for a business to take security measures. 

How recently a crime had taken place in the vicinity of the business where the victim has suffered harm. This is also of importance in deciding the foreseeability of the crime.

The same test is used to prove prior knowledge a litany of other accidents like:

  • Falling objects
  • Drowning in a public or private pool
  • Slipping, tripping and falling on public or private sidewalks
  • Various burn injuries in your workplace
  • Negligent Maintenance of roadway crashes, etc.

Foreseeability Matters?

Yes this is key in most cases. So liability could lie if the incident that harmed you was similar to ones that had taken place in the past. But they must be in the proximity of the business or premises. It could be said the owner should have foreseen similar scenarios in future.

Discussed below is another important factor when proving the foreseeability of a crime or even a slippery floor case. It’s called Prior Similar Incidents.

  • What are Prior Similar Incidents or PSI?

The similarity between the incidents that took place in the past and the one that injured the plaintiff is important. PSI or prior similar incidents can show that this would have been avoided if not but for owner negligence.

Similarity Of Cases And Foreseeability

There is quite a debate and controversy in many court cases over PSI. Different state judges are of different opinions.

  • Some judges believe that only natural and similar crimes could allow a business to foresee an upcoming danger. Under this jurisdictional split, business are liable if there was a very similar type of crime, for example. Even if it’s a high crime area, a rape of a female patron next door would not give rise to knowledge criminals would assault a male customer at your business, for example.

So if for example, a past a robbery had taken place in the nearby store, that would not instantly prove security negligence unless there was a similar robbery at your location.

But if it’s not similar enough, you can lose. So in order to prove the foreseeability of the crime it had to be similar in nature. Get it so far?

But this PSI theory is not accepted by all courts.

  • Some courts in California contradict this theory of PSI. These judges say even if the crime is dissimilar, the fact there was high crime at all was enough notice to necessitate security. So some courts have given decisions in the favor victims even when the incidents were not similar.

What is The Stance Of The Plaintiff In Security Negligence Case?

From above information we can easily conclude that any victim who wants to prove that business’ security negligent must come up with ample evidence to show past crime, or PSI. You must show the business knew or should have known about the possibility of the crime at the minimum.

The plaintiff will have to collect information about past cases.  It is always best that the plaintiff collect information about similar cases. But bear in mind some courts think any crimes in the vicinity of the business should have encouraged security measures.

Security Negligence Cases In Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is one of the most populous regions in the U.S. Crimes are taking place in this area every minute. So if you have been part of an incident and suffered harm or your property got damaged in a business’ premises, you should contact an experienced law firm as soon as possible.

Citations:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Foreseeability   The Free Dictionary Foreseeability legal definition of Foreseeability

http://www.nolo.com/dictionary/foreseeability-term.html   Foreseeability | Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions

How Do Dram Shop Laws Apply?

Dram shop laws are on the books in 42 states and the District of Columbia. These laws hold the owner of the establishment and servers responsible in some cases. Examples include a drunken patron injuring another person inside or even outside of their establishment.

So in the case of a bar or nightclub, the owners and servers may be held liable. This remains true if they permit a patron to become visibly intoxicated at the establishment. But California uses the foreseeability test, not Dramshop laws.

What are the Wrongful Death Dangers?

When there is an incident at a nightclub or bar that kills a patron, it could be from negligence. If it was, wrongful death claims in California are brought by the spouse, children, grandchildren, domestic partner, other dependents. They can also be claims brought by personal representatives of the decedent.

So now the heirs can be awarded damages in a wrongful death lawsuit based on two things.

  1. The pecuniary loss involves financial support for the victim. This is what the dead person would have provided had they lived. And this will include funeral and burial expenses.
  2. Non-pecuniary damages are the loss of moral support, comfort, companionship, assistance in maintenance. And it can include other damages caused by the death.

What About Punitive Damages?

  • The one damage that heirs will not recover in a wrongful death lawsuit is punitive damages.

What About a Survivor’s Action?

  • If the person who died was hospitalized and had medical expenses, the decedent’s estate may bring a survivor’s lawsuit. This is done on behalf of the deceased victim’s estate.

How Do You Protect the Rights of Patrons?

Above we discussed the various types of cases, statistics and legal theories lawyers use to prove a negligent security case. Now that you understand more about your rights you need to make a decision.

  • Should you consult with a lawyer?
  • We think so.
  • An incident resulting in harm can have life changing consequences. 

Call ELFPI now to learn more at (213) 596-9642.

Know the Difference Between Types of Attorneys

Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Ehline Law Firm Logo
When Only the Best Accident Lawyers Will Do.

In law school, or while reading the law as an extern, the same classes/subjects are studied by all prospective lawyers. And each newly sworn lawyer makes the identical oath to maintain ethics and professionalism.

  • First-year students must master the concepts of “Contracts, Torts, and Criminal Law,” across all American Bar Association approved schools.
  • Same goes for most State Bar certified schools.
  • So in general, most licensed practitioners are masters of the basics, so to speak. (“Jack of all and master of none.”)

So does it really matter which type of attorney is chosen for your particular legal claim? Well, first you must understand how massive law is now insofar as its various subdivisions are concerned. Yes, there are specialists. Lawyers such as those who handle patent law are one class.

But there are also trial lawyers who focus only on a particular area of tort law, like mass torts.

Imagine the law is like a giant skyscraper. Each room of the building represents an area of legal knowledge like:

  • “Negligence Law,” which would be a small room in the basement. And then, in that tiny room, maybe a desk drawer would contain the legal know how to navigate a bodily injury insurance claim, mediation, and trial.
  • “Wills and Trusts” with its sub-areas would be in a small room down the hall and so forth.
  • And then for argument’s sake, make the first few top floors criminal law.
  • All the lower floors would be civil law, and you can start to see how the law is stacked.

So to answer the original question, yes, as a general rule, it does make sense to hire a personal injury lawyer for a PI case. But only so long as your lawyer is reasonably competent in their particular practice.

After all, you need someone with above average skill for the type of case you have.

Lawyers certainly are not all the same. Therefore, it does matter which type of legal expert you selected.

  • Some lawyers are general practitioners who handle cookie cutter types of cases. Usually, the cases they handle are not always that complex.  This kind of specialist will be the one you call for a canned divorce or bankruptcy, or for a traffic ticket infraction, for example.

The takeaway from all of this is that a particular type of lawyer still may not always have the requisite training for your particular claim or case. So as a seeker of help, you must familiarize yourself with some best practices for consumers.

Then you’ll be able to hire the right type of help sensibly.  So for now, we will drill down into a few of the many types of lawyers. So let’s try and understand the similarities and differences as discussed below.


What is a General Practice Lawyer (“GP”)?

Numerous types of attorneys have specialized knowledge in one particular area of law. And some even practice in a few different areas that are related. As noted, general practice lawyers do not just specialize in one particular area. In fact, GP’s usually practice simultaneously in some different areas of law.

It is not uncommon for a general lawyer to practice in several or all of the areas of law listed as follows:

  • Security law
  • Administrative Law
  • International law
  • Criminal law
  • Real Estate law
  • Corporate and Commercial Law
  • Civil Litigation Law
  • Tax law
  • Family law
  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Constitutional law
  • Immigration law
  • Environmental law
  • Intellectual Property Law

While there are some GP’s that limit the types of law they practice, this is rare. So there are some that accept cases and cash from virtually any type of client, in a multitude of legal claims.

  • But by far the most popular and notorious lawyers in our culture are the specialized tort or personal injury lawyers.
  • Movies like “Rainmaker” with Matt Damon are a testament to the reputation of the ambulance chaser injury attorney.

What Are Personal Injury Attorneys?

A personal injury attorney [Click Here] specializes in cases that involve a personal injury to your mind, body and soul.

In cases like this, compensation is sought from those legally liable, for intentional, or negligent damages including:

  • Psychological injury
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage such as with automobile accidents
  • Physical injury such as with a surgery that is botched
  • Medical expenses

In law school, these types of attorneys fall under your “Negligence Courses.”

But this area of law has many subdivisions and experts, from:

  • Mass torts
  • Vehicle airbag defects
  • Exploding gas tanks
  • Commercial vehicle accidents and so forth.

The bond between these attorneys is that they have knowledge in handling cases of “tort law.”

So what is a tort anyways?

A tort lawyer is basically a personal injury law specialist.

  • A tort is a civil action that has been made against a particular group of people or person that justifies filing the money damages suit, according to the Cornell University Law School.
  • A crime is not considered to be a tort. (watch the video here.) So a crime is a wrongdoing against the public, or state in general (Learn more.)

So one who is guilty of committing a crime may be punished with jail time. But when a crime is determined, the guilty party or their insurance agency may still have to pay monetary compensation.

Compensation is money that gets paid to the party or parties that suffered the injury as reparations for the criminal OR civil act.

  • The District or City Attorney prosecutes crimes. The punishment can be a fine, imprisonment, or both.
  • A civil, or private lawyer sues for money in torts. There is no jail-time.

Are you getting this so far? Personal injury attorneys often elect to take only accept specific kinds of negligence law cases. Most of them avoid hourly billing. So they don’t normally take on criminal clients at all.

Some areas of law he or she may choose to specialize in includes the following:

  • Medical accident
  • Automobile accident
  • Work related accident
  • Dental accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Assault/Battery/Rape

What are Some Differences between General Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys?

  • A general practice lawyer doesn’t just apply their skills to one particular area of law. So this means they have knowledge in a variety of different case types.
  • A tort attorney has specialized knowledge and skill in cases that involve personal injury and tort laws. So this means the knowledge they have about cases of bodily harm is more in-depth than a “GP.”

A general practitioner can be a tort specialist, and arguably can be a better lawyer. After all, he understands better how all the law interrelates.

For example, elder abuse law cases have elements of crimes and can even involve some probate issues. But in some cases, a GP lacks the specialized knowledge for a complex area of law, such as an asbestos case. So it can be a crap-shoot. That’s why you should hire ELFPI. PI cases are more targeted and that’s what we do.

To learn more about these issues, contact us at (213) 596-9642.

What is A Personal Injury? Tort Law Basics

A young lawyer is sitting at her desk in the office
Female legal advocate.

A personal injury is an injury to an individual’s person caused by another party. Personal injury law is the common term used by people who bring insurance or court claims to recover money for their injuries. Personal injury lawyers are the state bar members who will usually file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a plaintiff such as you. Is this making sense so far?

Good, because this is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • First, let’s understand that this is all to be handled under what law students call: “Tort Law.”

So let’s try it this way. Annually there are millions of accidents of various types. These can result in thousands of fatalities and millions of people injured.

  • When an injury or death occurs during an accidental incident, it is governed by personal injury law (aka “tort law.”)

In fact, personal injury law enables injured victims like you or your family to get money for your reasonable losses in a tort case. A tort case can also include losing a loved one in a wrongful death. You are entitled to money for the losses you suffered.

Because of the risks and rewards, specialized plaintiff’s personal injury attorneys are often called upon. These experts can help you to devise plaintiff’s tactics to win money.

The end game is M-O-N-E-Y!

So naturally, these advocates know how to maximize the compensation a tort victim can receive. At least, you hope they know what they are doing right?


So What Exactly is a Tort?

The thing to understand about tort law is that it does not involve criminal charges. Generally, only civil actions are involved in a California tort claim. But arguably, you can bring a private attorney general’s action in an unfair business practices case under a Business and Professions Code §17200 lawsuit.

But beyond that complex area of mixed bag claims, if a criminal violation is charged that resulted in harm, death or serious injury, these are charged under criminal law. That means they will not be a part of your civil case brought under tort law in a civil action. Getting this so far?

  • In other words, the guilty party can’t be tried in a civil court.
  • The liable party if accused of a criminal violation, will have that case heard in criminal court where they can get prosecuted. The criminal’s sentence can include fines or jail, or some other penalty.
  • But you as a tort victim can still sue the wayward defendant in a civil court if they hurt you or killed your loved one.

Are Traffic Accidents the Largest Percentage of Tort Law Cases?

Probably. There are a significant percentage of tort cases brought involving traffic accidents.

  • Mostly, these include negligence when the liable party’s actions were reckless or careless. That means actions or inaction led to the incident.
  • The next type of the main tort cases are from slip and fall incidents that occur in a public place, business or property.
  • Santa Monica personal injury lawyers are very familiar with these types of claims. This is because of all the tourism in this city.

In these cases, the property owner has been careless. And this defendant may be entirely responsible or partially liable.

The other kinds of cases that involve tort law are:

  • Medical malpractice claims
  • Dog bite attack cases
  • Defective product claims, etc.

This type of case may also include defamation of character.


What are the Fundamentals of Tort Law?

Tort law has different fundamentals that apply in personal injury cases. Also, some elements may differ from one state to another. These claims will take place in the jurisdiction of the mishap, the plaintiff’s business or residence location. But this is based upon local or federal laws.

  • The most common claims that may involve parties in different places or even different states would be products liability.

Product liability laws include:

  • Defective products design.
  • Manufacturing defects; it may include distributors and retailers.
  • Another part of products liability law is the failure to warn of potential hazards; which can include the requirement of instructions or directions for a product that can be dangerous if improperly used.

How Do You Bring a Legal Action Under Tort Law?

  • You, as the plaintiff bring a legal action in tort law against the liable defendant.
  • Typically, you hire a lawyer to do this for you.
  • Next, your claim is either negotiated with the insurance company or it gets litigated in a civil state or federal court.
  • In many cases, your claim will be settled satisfactorily before the case goes to court for a specific settlement amount.

When a measure isn’t decided before going to court, a jury will hear the case. If you win, the panel awards you monetary compensation.

  • Some lawsuits brought in civil court using tort law are called class action claims. In those complex cases, there will be more than one plaintiff. Most of us have seen national TV class action campaigns for Vaginal Mesh and Asbestos claims right?

So in some cases means there will be many plaintiffs’ who have suffered harm by the same cause. And his could be something like a defective product, drug or automobile. In these cases, the jury award or negotiated settlement will be divided. In other words, it gets shared among the plaintiffs.

And usually the split is based upon a percentage of the degree of harm sustained by each wrongdoer. In tort cases, monetary damages are sought by the plaintiff for damages such as medical expenses. In class actions sometimes a gift certificate is awarded to most class members, and the main award goes to the original one or two class members and a ton of money goes to the lawyers.

Damages for most personal injuries include:

  • Lost wages
  • Future costs of permanent or temporary disabilities
  • Emotional pain and suffering

Is a Wrongful Death also a Tort?

Yes. Except here, the damages are for non contact injuries to you. In other words, you were not touched physically, at least not directly.

In wrongful death claims the damages will include money for:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of earnings
  • Funeral, and burial costs

The defendants in these personal injury cases will use sneaky defenses and insurance company tactics. All of this is done to try and lower the amount of the settlement or jury award. In any event, personal injury cases are the specialty of the tort law lawyer. These are jurists who can litigate a solid court case against the tort defense attorney’s case.

In these types of claims the damages, your Los Angeles, wrongful death attorneys, for example, will include your other losses too.  To learn more, contact a personal injury attorney at ELFPI (213) 596-9642.

Big Trucks and Little Roads Don’t Mix

Why Do So Many Truck Accidents Happen on Small Roads?

California’s roads age quickly. Not only is California the largest population in the country, but its roads and bridges show it. From freeways to country roads, the state regularly ranks towards the bottom in maintenance and upkeep. Furthermore, state funding for Caltrans and local construction regularly wasted.

The issue becomes even worse because of the heavy traffic on the state’s roads. Many large trucks supply cities with food and goods. Many of these items come straight from the inland part of the state. In fact, many of the smaller roads cannot handle such a large load. They cannot take the strain of modern tractor trailers. This is apparent especially in higher traffic areas. Each new car and truck adds extra weight and demise to the roads.

Example and Knowledge

Take, for example the crash in Temecula reported in Patch. A dump truck driver died due to a crash on a two lane road when it collided with another truck.

Many DPWs did not design for such a load. Furthermore, designers undersigned them and are not well lit. They were built for a different purpose in a different age. Caltrans is often aware of these issues yet has not fixed them. For drivers each one of these is a unique challenge. Often Caltrans and other agencies know of these issues and do nothing.

Truck drivers need to know the lay of the road before their route. However, state and local officials also need to keep the roads safe for passage. There is a unique responsibility to riders and motorists.

If you or a loved one were injured due to a road defect or flaw, contact the Ehline Law Firm APLC immediately. Our skilled attorneys specialize in cases like these. We’ve fought and won across the state for traffic accident victims. We leave no stone left unturned. Our team is second to none. We fight for safer roads and lobby the state on behalf of drivers everywhere.

More About Contingency Fees

Personal Injury Attorneys - Ehline Law Firm
The Griffin logo of Ehline injury attorneys

While many different things stop a person from getting legal help in personal injury cases, fear of significant expenses remains the most prominent one. However, to ensure that everyone who has been carelessly and undeservingly hurt by someone gets justice, lawyers started charging on a contingency basis.

This particular method of receiving the fees from the people in trouble allows them to take help from an experienced lawyer without always worrying about how much money they have left in their pocket. Let’s understand the contingency fee structure and see how it will affect your legal actions in a particular case.

What’s a Contingency Fee Structure?

When a lawyer says that he will charge you contingency fee what he means is that he is not going to cost you anything upfront. He will take up your case, review it and contact the offending party to see if a settlement can become reached before filing a lawsuit i.e. taking the case inside the court.

  • When and if the case gets settled, the lawyer will take his fees from this settled amount.
  • In addition to his fees, he will also make sure to deduct any expenses he had to take from his pocket while pursuing a settlement.

Contingency Fee In Detail

In most injury cases today, you will meet lawyers who will charge to take care of your case on contingency fee basis. It is important to note here that some states have put a limit on the percentage of the amount that a lawyer can take.

  • Some states feel that contingency fee should be scrutinized more.
  • After all, the lawyer takes a fee from the final settlement so they want the client to get something after costs and expenses, etc.
  • Usually, California does not interfere with the retainer contract unless a compelling state interest lies in your case.

Are Protected People, Like Minors’ and Incompetents’ Settlements Universally Scrutinized?

Yes. Absolutely. This is a case where there is a compelling state interest in protecting a class incapable of protecting themselves.

Examples where an earned fee could be reduced or limited in California include:

  • Minors
  • Some elders
  • Incompetents

So these are highly scrutinized contingency fee contracts in California and other states. In California, for example, you will need to set up a trust, and conservatorship in most cases. This is all very complex, time consuming and expensive.

So What is the Typical Contingency Fee Amount in a Personal Injury Case?

Mostly, you will be looking at contingency fees in the range of 35% and 40% of the gross amount you will receive as part of the settlement.

  • Another common figure is the one-third. Here, your lawyer takes 33.33% of the total settlement amount.

What is a Shifting of Limits Attorneys’ Fee?

Another term you might come across as you go in the details of contingency fee structure is “shifting of limits.” What this means is that your lawyer can charge you a different contingency fee based on the condition of the case it is in when the agent picks it up.

After analyzing the situation, your condition, your damages, etc., the contingency fee lawyer dispatches a letter to the offending party. Here your lawyer lets them know of the demand for the final settlement. So if the offending party agrees to pay this amount the settlement, the case never enters the court.

This is an easy way to reach the end of a case, and so you won’t have to pay more than 33.33% to the lawyer as his contingency fee in this scenario. However, things can change if the offending party doesn’t agree to pay the compensation amount or completely disagrees to take the blame for the personal injury.

Now, in this particular scenario, the case will be taken to court for a trial. This is also referred to as filing a lawsuit. In this given situation where the case ends up in the court, your lawyer receives a higher percentage of the final settlement amount – a 40% fee in most cases.

Contingency Fees Might Not Be The Only Deductions

Reading the information above might put you under the impression that contingency fees are the only thing that needs to be deducted from the final settlement amount when a case is closed, but that’s not the case every time. As the lawyer is handling the case, he’s doing a lot to collect the evidence and investigate the case to strengthen the case from your side.

All of this requires him to collect reports, hire people to perform various tasks, etc. The lawyer can choose to pay for these expenses either from his pocket or ask you straight away to pay for these expenses.

If your lawyer has asked you to pay for these extra legal fees, then your final settlement will be the amount less the attorney’s fee. However, if the agent has been making these expenses from his pocket, then the sum of these expenditures will be taken from your final settlement check.

In this case, if you don’t have the money to pay these fees the case will come to a stop.

The many areas where the money is spent while handling a personal injury case include:

  • Postage
  • Witness fees
  • Trial exhibits
  • Medical records
  • Investigators
  • Police reports
  • Filing fees

The longer the case lasts for the higher the expenses will be and the bigger the amount will be deducted from your final settlement. In some scenarios, the percentage that comes as the victim is 45% to 50% only.

Benefits Of Contingency Fee Structure

There are several benefits of choosing lawyers that work with contingency fee structure. The biggest benefit is that people who don’t have enough money in their pockets to start pursuing compensation in a personal injury case can actually pursue it because they don’t have to pay anything upfront.

Another huge benefit is that the lawyer works in the best interests of its clients because his income is tied with the winning of the case. If the lawyer takes his fees upfront then there are higher chances that he might not work on the case with the required passion because his interests and motivation have died in such a scenario.

How Is a Contingency Fee Taken?

The settlement check from the offending party is sent to the lawyer in your case. The draft is deposited into the attorney-client trust account. This ensures that your line holder and lawyer get paid their fees, and any other extra contractual expenses before the proceeds you are owed go into your personal bank account.

Also, it remains the responsibility of your lawyer to inform you as soon as he has received the settlement check. He should give you complete details on how much money he’s going to take the form the settlement check. And you lawyer should also explain the expenses in detail.

To make things even better, today the lawyers are encouraging their clients to start pursuing their personal injury cases with a free first consultation in addition to contingency fee plan. Ehline Law Firm based in Los Angeles, California is one such reputable firm, handling personal injury cases on a contingency for years (learn more.)

Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorney, APLC
633 West 5th Street #2890
Los Angeles, CA
90071
US
Phone: (213) 596-9642

Maps – Directions

Let’s work
together

Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Personal Injury News

Stay Informed