Interviewer: What would you say were some of the common misconceptions that people have about attorneys’ fees that you notice?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Well, I think maybe one common misconception is specifically with reference to contingent fees or injury claims; people tend to be concerned that all the money ends up going to the lawyers, and the clients – the injured party – don’t necessarily receive anything. That’s not really the case. I mean, it can be a substantial portion of the claim that gets paid to the attorney’s fees if it has to go to an actual trial and that sort of thing, because the percentage is higher, up to 40%, but there’s still a substantial part of the recovery that’s not covered by the fees.
It’s taken care of in that regard, but where that really becomes important is when you’re considering the potential for settlement offers. I try to look at it from the client’s point of view as to which way are they likely to come out with the highest amount of net recovery. You could end up going to trial and getting a verdict for an amount that was larger than what was offered in settlement, but by the time you net out the attorneys’ fees and the costs that were involved in the trial (witness fees and that sort of thing) then the client can actually end up with less in their pocket.
You try to explain all that before you actually go to trial and give an honest appraisal of what you think might happen at the trial, and determine what’s really in the best interest of the client going forward.
Interviewer: Could you potentially sit down with a client and give them an idea of what the costs are going to be for everything, that way they can know what they’re getting into?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s standard operating procedure in the middle of a claim, as you’re approaching a trial.
Interviewer: Do you think the client, at times, ever gets scared off or gets a little intimidated by the costs?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Well, always, but that’s just a part of the consideration. You have to weigh the pros and cons of what a recovery versus what it’ll cost to get there. There are always risks, so it’s always a bit of a stressful decision they have to make, but just try to use your best judgment and do your best.