The financial backdrop of injury claims is unique from other areas of law. Whereas flat fees and retainers guarantee payment in advance, legal services pertaining to injury claims are typically paid on a contingency basis. This means that, rather than collecting a fee up front, the lawyer agrees to accept a percentage of a projected future settlement or award. Therein lies the risk for the lawyer. Win the case, and get paid. Lose the case, and receive no return on the investment of time and money.

Consumers tend to favor this payment structure, as it requires no up-front legal costs. Moreover, the arrangement gives the impression that the interests of the lawyer and client are fully aligned. In essence: “My lawyer can’t defraud me because the more money he/she makes, the more money I’m going to receive.” Unfortunately, this sentiment is not always accurate, and a contingent fee agreement does not always safeguard a client from a deceitful or simply careless attorney.

Many cases, and most that involve prolonged medical care, have a breaking point; the stage at which the lawyer’s fee and the client’s recovery become inversely related. From that moment on, the lawyer’s share of the eventual settlement increases at the expense of the client’s net recovery. Therefore, behind the curtain, the job of an honest lawyer is to anticipate the breaking point and resolve the case as close to it as possible.

To maximize your recovery, assess the following in your prospective lawyer:

1. Good will

Frankly, some lawyers only care about their fee, and will leverage your recovery to maximize their own;

2. Time management / Current case load

The only way your lawyer can use the breaking point to your advantage is to understand the status of your claim and the course it is likely to take going forward. If your lawyer does not give your claim adequate attention, he/she will likely stumble over the breaking point long past the stage in which it could have been of benefit to you; and

3. Talent without overconfidence

Legal consumers are often dazzled by empty promises of large settlements. It is fine to shoot for the stars, provided you don’t get caught a mile up without a parachute.

As advertising for injury lawyers becomes more and more prevalent, remember that the firm you choose can radically alter your results for better or worse. For additional information about injury claims and litigation, contact Heaton & Associates at (702) 664-2100 or online at