Experience has taught us that a team approach is the most effective method to handle any case. As a result, as many as six people will be working for you. Each person has a role designed to fit into the overall plan for success.
How We Handle Our Cases and Set Our Fees
Our practice model was devised based upon years of experience. It is designed to give you the strongest possible representation. Jay Milano is involved in each case. Every morning we meet as a team to determine the strategy for the individual cases. Mr. Milano leads those meetings.
Each case is assigned to an attorney who assumes primary responsibility for resolving the problem. In almost all cases at least two lawyers will represent you if there is a trial. We will discuss with you which attorney will handle your case based upon your wishes, the nature of the case, and the resources that you are able to commit.
There are two preliminary office meetings between yourself and the attorneys and staff. At the first, we meet and discuss the general parameters of your case. Shortly thereafter, the attorneys meet as a group to determine if we will accept your case, how we will handle it, and what we believe your fees will be. We make every effort to set our fees accurately. There will be some cases when the fees will vary from those which were originally set. If you decide to retain us, a second meeting is scheduled. At that meeting, a more detailed discussion of the case takes place. We begin the preparation process. We will continue to schedule meetings until we are sure that we are fully prepared.
As a rule, we avoid placing our clients in a position of making decisions in a courtroom hallway. As a result, before any procedure where an important step may be taken we schedule an office meeting. Examples include a discussion of a resolution or discussion of an upcoming motion hearing.
Contact us if you have a question or concern. If we are not going to be in the office for the entire day, you will be told so and you may either leave a voice mail message or speak with another attorney in the office who is familiar with your case. If we are not in the office but expected back, your call will be directed to the voice mail system. If we are in the building, your call will be directed to our office. There are times when we are either on the phone or engaged. Leave your message in the voice mail system. We will return your call as soon as possible.
If you do not believe that we are responding to you promptly, please let us know by speaking to Ms. Pintz, our office administrator. We will determine what the problem is and quickly correct it.
As a general rule you will receive copies of all documents received or generated in your case. We do this so you are aware of everything that is happening for your case. Unless instructed, there is no need for you to act.
Court appearances are a cause for great concern and frustration to our clients. There are three types of court appearances: Pretrials, Motion Hearings, and Trials. Pretrials are informal meetings in the courthouse with the lawyers and the Judge. Clients are generally required to attend, but rarely do more than sit in the hall and wait. Motion hearings are more formal and happen in open court. The client must be there and usually participates to some extent. Trials are the ultimate test and there will be much preparation done with the participation of the client before the case approaches that stage. You will be notified of upcoming hearings.
Because of the informal nature of pretrial hearings we cannot tell in advance which attorney will attend with you. Whether it be Mr. Milano or Ms. Pruchnicki, we assure you that they will be well prepared with a pre-planned strategy in hand.
In each case the client is responsible for preparing a timeline of the events of the case and a cast of characters of the people involved. We will discuss the details of this endeavor.
How We Set Our Fees in Contingency Cases
Generally, in medical malpractice, injury, and certain property damage cases, we will provide our service on a contingency fee basis. This means that we are willing to invest our time and services as described below for a percentage of the total amount of any money recovered.
Our services may include a review of applicable statutes, research of case law, interviewing and taking statements of witnesses, the taking of depositions, retaining the services of experts where necessary, and consultations with them, planning and preparation of exhibits, preparation of pleadings, court appearances, negotiations with insurance adjusters and opposing counsel, correspondence, trial preparation, meetings and telephone conversations with you.
Our fee ranges from 25-50% depending on the complexity of the case, the amount of effort needed, and the likelihood of success.
In the event of an appeal by us or the opposing party, a new and separate fee arrangement must be negotiated as necessary.
In any event, out-of-pocket expenses directly attributed to your case are to be paid after attorney fees are deducted. These expenses are described below in the “Additional Considerations” section.
If any medical expenses are incurred as a result of your injury, you are responsible for the payment of any outstanding balance. With your authorization, we will issue letters of protection to your medical providers; however, some medical providers will not wait until settlement of your claim to receive payment. It is your responsibility to make payment where required.
How We Set Our Fees in Hourly Cases
In a limited number of cases, we work on an hourly basis. If we determine that is the best method for your case, we will require a retainer from which the hourly rate will be deducted each month. You will be asked to replenish the retainer each month to ensure sufficient funds for the ongoing work required in your case. The amount of the retainer will be determined based upon the seriousness and complexity of the issues involved.
As with contingency cases, the hourly rate does not include out-of-pocket expenses attributable to your case. These expenses are described below in the “Additional Considerations” section.
How We Set Our Fees In Set Fee Cases
In most non-injury cases, we attempt to set a firm fee to prepare and resolve your case, rather than billing you by the hour. In those cases our fees are not based solely, or even primarily, on the number of hours expended.
Rather fees are based upon many factors, including:
- Our experience and expertise;
- The complexity of the facts;
- The complexity of the issues;
- The gravity of the situation;
- The need to work with other agencies such as licensing boards;
- The need to coordinate experts and other attorneys;
- Which attorney is primarily responsible for your case.
The fees in each case are broken down into three parts:
- The Retainer or Investigative Fee
- The Primary Fee
- The Trial Fee
Some cases require a retainer. They usually involve a situation where we must quickly act before we are able to ascertain what the total fees might be. The retainer covers our entrance into your case, initial investigation, preparation of a strategy and a determination of where we stand. It is not based upon an hourly fee, but rather is a set fee for the first stage of your case. (See Rule 6). Generally, additional fees will be required to continue on with your case and you must assume no refund of the retainer.
The “Primary Fee” is the fee we charge to prepare your case and to resolve it, if possible. It generally is the largest of the three fees. Your strength and ability to win is based upon the depth of our preparation. You will receive a schedule as to when your fees are due.
If you cannot adhere to the schedule you must let us know immediately. We will work with you on the timing of payments but you must have a concrete plan. If you would prefer to have Mr. Milano personally as your attorney, all payments must be received on time as based on the payment schedule. Failure to comply with the schedule will result in the absence of Mr. Milano’s presence on your case. Please note that you are able to pay by using Visa or MasterCard. We will try to work with you, but only if you are totally honest with us.
Invariably, unexpected circumstances occur in each case. Some cases become more complex as they proceed, while others are resolved more quickly than anticipated. By agreeing to a set fee in advance we remove any uncertainty as to what your case will cost. Should we leave the case prematurely, we will address the issue of a partial fee. By agreeing to our primary fee, and the timetable for its payment, it is agreed that each portion of the fee has been earned by the date it was due. If newer cases arise during the course of our representation, there will be additional fees.
With each case there is a trial fee. The trial fee is a per day fee for each day that your case is in trial or administrative hearing. This fee ranges from $2,000.00 to $3,500.00 per day, depending upon which lawyer tries your case. The trial fee must be placed in our escrow account 30 days prior to trial. If your case does not go to trial the trial fee will be returned to you.
If yours is an out of town case and is resolved on the first day of trial, one day’s trial fee will be retained.
Once again, as with contingency cases and hourly cases, the set fee does not include out-of-pocket expenses attributable to your case. These expenses are discussed in the “Additional Considerations” section below.
There are additional components to most cases:
- Investigation is important in almost every case. We will determine what effort is necessary and will engage the investigator. The fees will be arranged between the client and the investigator.
- Some cases require travel. You will be responsible for those costs.
- Expert witnesses and consultants are often necessary. We will engage no expert without first discussing with you their role and fees.
There are miscellaneous costs involved in each case. These include transcripts and courts costs. There is no charge for office costs such as copying and faxing. However, you are responsible for collect phone calls. We may require a deposit of $250.00 in our escrow account. The amount not used will be returned to you.
Payment may be made by cash, check, Visa or MasterCard. Credit card payments may be made over the telephone.
Again, all payments must be received on time as based on the payment schedule. If you fail to pay the fee according to our agreement understand that you are giving us permission to withdraw from your case. Our flat fees represent a bargain made by us. If your case takes one phone call or three years, we will finish. As a result, the amount of hours spent is sometimes very low and , more often , very high. It is our job to solve the problem for you. If we can do that quickly and efficiently, all the better.
The cost of your representation is high. We understand that. It is our philosophy to do everything possible to assure that you are successful. Each case involves unique issues and problems. We will address them as they arise and assure you that we will do everything reasonably possible to provide you with aggressive and effective representation.
Contact us if you have a problem. If we are unable to assist you, at the very least we can put you in touch with an attorney who is qualified and who you can trust.