While it’s not something that most of us want to consider, there may come a time when you or a loved one are in dire need of legal representation. Whether you have suffered an accident, face a criminal charge, or are seeking a spousal separation, there are many reasons that you may need an attorney. Possibly the biggest reason that someone in need of an attorney would not seek one out is the same reason that people often avoid going to the hospital: the final bill. When you know that you need help but you know that help could come at a high cost, you need to make sure you do your research in choosing a personal injury attorney. But that doesn’t mean that you should look for the cheapest lawyer out there.
While most attorneys are ethical, there are some that are not. Attorney fees have been on the rise since the 1990s and continue to inflate. No doubt a chunk of the total $100 billion paid in annual US legal fees goes to attorneys who provide incompetent or even unethical service. There have also been reports in the past that some attorneys pad their bills or force collections of fees improperly. When you are seeking an attorney, you need to look for one that has not only a fair fee, but a history of trust and proper representation with previous clients.
How To Handle Unexpected Charges From An Attorney
If you find that you have been billed incorrectly, even well after the services of your lawyer are no longer required, it can feel like a punch in the gut. You had an expectation of what your bill was going to be, but this amount goes well outside of what you had been planning for. Were you charged for services that were never provided? Are there ludacris charges for things that reasonably should have been covered by another fee or not charged at all? How could you prove that an attorney over billed you, and is it even worth the fight? After all, the last thing you want to do is hire another attorney to dispute an unjust bill.
Before you do anything else, call your attorney and request more information about their fees. Nothing on your final bill should come as a surprise. If you had an initial conversation about fees before you hired your attorney – and you definitely should have – then there is no reason to expect your final bill to be higher. An ethical attorney will always keep you up to date if they feel that additional services and fees apply to your case and need to be added to the final amount billed. But that doesn’t mean that there may not be a fee that you aren’t clear about. Speaking to your lawyer opens a line of communication in which you can clarify any issues with your billing.
This is all the more true if you are in an ongoing case. Your attorney probably doesn’t want to lose you as a client, so they may be willing to negotiate certain fees. Even a client whose case has recently closed is important to a good attorney.
Review Your Bill
Like any bill, you should fully review any statements from your lawyer. Your lawyer is here to help you and will answer any questions you have about your case or your bill. If there is a mistake, an honest lawyer will admit to the discrepancy and correct your statement. If your bill ends up being higher than you initially thought, even if you have been made aware of potential additional charges, you may be able to negotiate for lower costs.
When you work with the right attorney, you don’t need to worry about being overcharged for services or having your claim taken less seriously than others. The best law firms will treat your claim like their own, advocating for your best interests every step of the way, and will always ensure that you fully understand all aspects of your legal process and your final billing.