Interviewer: What am I entitled to with regard to personal injury?
Dan Hoarfrost: When a person has been injured, they’re entitled to compensation for all the damages that can be established that are a result of the negligent injury. In our state, those are divided into two common types of damages. One is called economic damages, and those are the more commonly known: objectively proven damages such as medical bills, wages lost, impaired learning capacity, and that sort of thing.
The other type of damage that a person is entitled to is non-economic. It used to be referred to as pain and suffering damages, but the current statutes refer to it simply as non-economic damages, and those are the more subjective. They have to do with the person’s physical pain and emotional distress that are associated with the injuries and that are suffered and kind of overall impact on a person’s lifestyle.
Interviewer: How do attorney fees work in personal injury claims?
Dan Hoarfrost: In injury claims, attorney fees are virtually always paid by what’s known as a contingent fee agreement. What that means is the fees are contingent on recovery by the injured party. It’s often determined by a percentage of the damages that are recovered by the injured party. In my practice, the fees vary depending on what stage the case is resolved in; for example, the percentage is lower if the case is settled without having to file a lawsuit.
That goes up once the lawsuit is filed, and then if the actual litigation or hearing process is actually involved, the reason being basically that there’s more time investment (from the attorney standpoint) the deeper the claim goes into the litigation process.