Individuals and families who suffer catastrophic loss due to trucking accidents always face hardship. In the midst of a the worst recession in a generation, the hardship is often even greater. Responding to that harsh reality facing our potential clients, I have adopted a new fee schedule that cuts average fees by more than 10%. And, as my own small scale “bailout plan” for injured individuals, I have adopted a new lower fee category for early settlements.
This fee schedule applies only to select auto and truck accident cases in which I am hired directly by an individual or family who assists by gathering police reports, photos, medical bills, and certified copies of medical records. I don’t accept every case, and do require full disclosure of factors in the client’s background that could adversely affect value of the case. Higher fees percentages apply to other categories of cases, such as products liability, professional liability, etc.
Recession Fee Schedule
Settlement within 45 days after sending demand package to insurance company and before suit is filed.
Normal Rate: 33 1/3%
Recession Rate: 25% (new early settlement category)
This discounted fee rate is available only if I am hired within one year after the accident and the client obtains the police reports and medical bills and records. Early settlements are seldom optimal settlements, but the decision belongs to the client.
Settlement after suit filed and before entry of pre-trial order
Normal Rate: 33 1/3%
Recession Rate: 29%
Settlement between entry of pre-trial order and conclusion of trial
Normal Rate: 40%
Recession Rate: 35%
Settlement on post-trial appeal, after appeal brief written
Normal Rate: 45%
Recession Rate: 40%
If I advance litigation expenses for experts, depositions, etc., as is usually necessary, I will be reimbursed at the time of settlement. I use a line of credit for funding of litigation expenses and pass through to the client the actual interest charged on those funds.
All contingent fees are calculated as a percentage of the total amount recovered from the party at fault or its insurance company. Representation includes efforts to negotiate compromises with lienholders, but any legally enforceable lien for medical expenses, etc., must be paid out of the client’s share of any recovery.
In trucking cases that go to trial, we sometimes have opportunities to add to other damages a claim for attorney fees and expenses. For example, violations of mandatory motor carrier safety rules may be the basis for a jury to add an award for attorney fees for “bad faith” The extent to which an insurance company explicitly considers a claim for fees and expenses in pre-trial negotiation varies.
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Ken Shigley is a board-certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), as one of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He is a member of the national advisory board of the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and frequently teaches other lawyers at national continuing legal education programs on trucking litigation topics. Currently he serves as Secretary of the State Bar of Georgia.