Monthly Archives: June 2017

Kansas Car Crash Attorney Explains Recent Supreme Court Ruling Regarding Contingency Fees

You may have heard or seen the advertisements: “Legal representation with no upfront cost!  We don’t get paid unless you get paid!” These lawyer and law firm advertisements attempt to attract potential clients by promising to work under what is known as a contingency-fee agreement. In a contingency-fee agreement, the lawyer agrees to defer assessment of any attorneys’ fees he or she might otherwise be entitled to receive unless and until the lawyer is successful in obtaining a monetary judgment in favor of the client. In addition to this, such contingency-fee agreements usually calculate the attorneys’ fees not as an hourly rate but as a percentage of the recovery obtained by the attorney. So, for example, if a client recovers $100,000 and the contingency fee agreement he or she has with his or her attorney specifies that the attorney receives 30 percent, the attorney would receive $30,000 in attorneys’ fees.

When a Contingency-Fee Agreement Does Not Cover All Contingencies

What happens when a lawyer signs a contingency-fee agreement with a personal injury attorney and performs work for the client but then is fired by the client before he or she recovers any compensation? One might be tempted to think that, because the fired attorney did not recover any compensation for the client, the attorney is then not entitled to any fees at all. The Kansas Supreme Court disagrees, however, and expressed its view in Consolver v. Hotez et al., a decision released earlier this month.

In Consolver, the injury plaintiff and appellant Consolver signed a contingency-fee agreement with a law firm. The agreement did not specify whether the attorney working on her case would receive any fees at all in the event the attorney was fired before a resolution of the case. Consolver eventually fired her attorney and retained new counsel who settled her personal injury case for $360,000. The trial court believed Consolver’s initial counsel was entitled to nearly $100,000 in fees and expenses, but the Court of Appeals disagreed with this conclusion.

Quantum Merit and Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals, holding that principles of quantum merit require that the initial attorney be compensated a reasonable amount for services he rendered to Consolver. (Quantum merit is a legal principle that essentially holds that in certain circumstances a person ought to be reasonably compensated for the value of his or her services.) Because the initial lawyer had performed services that were ultimately of value to Consolver, the attorney ought to be fairly compensated.

What This Means for Your Car Crash Lawsuit

Individuals who are injured in a car crash (or other accident) in Kansas should be cautious when entering into a contingency-fee arrangement with an attorney. Specifically, the decision in Consolver should cause clients to review their contingency-fee agreements carefully before signing. If the agreement does not address certain circumstances (such as you firing your attorney for cause or the attorney withdrawing from your case without a valid and substantial reason for so doing), you may find that your recovery will be substantially reduced due to paying for at least two attorneys’ reasonable fees.

Michael R. Lawless, Kansas Car Crash Attorney, is committed to working diligently on behalf of clients and keeping his or her clients engaged in the recovery process so as to minimize dissatisfaction and confusion over the status of your case. Michael R. Lawless is a proactive and dedicated advocate, representing your legal interests in court and out of course with professionalism and vigor. Contact Michael R. Lawless to discuss your Kansas injury case today by calling (800) 734-3771.

Kansas Car Crash Lawyer Discusses “The State of Safety” Study

The National Safety Council recently released a report, The State of Safety, and its conclusions are not flattering for Kansas or its eastern neighbor, Missouri. The study looked at each of the 50 states’ laws, policies, and regulations and gave each state a “grade” based on how well these legislative and executive actions prevent accidental deaths and injuries from occurring. Missouri received the lowest scores of all 50 states – an “F
grade in the road, workplace, and home and community safety categories – but Kansas was not far behind. While the Sunflower State received a “B” in the road safety category, it received an “F” in both workplace safety (Kansas actually scored dead last in this category) and in home and community safety. Overall, eleven states including Missouri and Kansas earned an overall grade of “F”.  No state earned a grade of “A.”

What this Study Says – and What It Does Not Say

Upon initially reviewing the findings of The State of Safety report, one might be tempted to conclude that both Missouri and Kansas are dangerous places in which to live. This is not necessarily true: the study makes its conclusions based upon the laws and regulations in existence in each state and determines the likelihood of an accidental injury or death if all individuals involved followed the laws of each state. So, for example, part of the reason Missouri earned an “F” grade for road safety is because the state has no law permitting law enforcement officers to pull drivers over for failing to wear a seat belt in the absence of another traffic violation.

Nonetheless, the study and the sources it used to reach its conclusions can suggest ways in which residents and visitors to the various states are more likely to find themselves injured. Moreover, just because a person may not violate the laws of a particular state does not mean that the person’s behavior cannot be considered negligent or careless. For instance, just because a highway in Kansas has a speed limit of 75 miles per hour does not mean that it is always wise and prudent to travel at such a speed in all conditions. During inclement weather or during a wildfire in which smoke covers the highway, traveling at 75 miles per hour may, in fact, be careless or even reckless.

Are Kansas Roads and Workplaces Safe?

Kansas – like other states – sees thousands of roadway and workplace accidents each year. Whether or not you or your loved ones become victims in such accidents depends not on the existence of sufficient laws and/or regulations but rather on whether in any given moment the individuals involved exercise good judgment and act in a careful, prudent manner. While compliance with the rules of the road or with workplace safety regulations can be evidence that a person acted reasonably in a situation, such evidence is not conclusive by any means. Even when the individual who caused your Kansas crash or accident was “law-abiding,” other evidence and circumstances might show that his or her behavior was nonetheless careless or reckless.

Call Your Kansas Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one find yourself injured on a Kansas highway, speak with Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney Michael R. Lawless about your legal rights and whether you can recover compensation from the at-fault party. Do not believe that “lawful” behavior on the part of the at-fault party means you are not entitled to compensation. Before you accept a settlement or believe you need to pay for your expenses and losses yourself, call Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law at (800) 734-3771.