Frequently Asked Questions
Much of what we do these days is regulated by law. The law is frequently complex and subject to change. An attorney’s experience, knowledge, and expertise are therefore invaluable not only in dealing with legal matters you may be facing, but also in explaining and interpreting the law as it pertains to your circumstances. The attorney’s guidance may be helpful in avoiding legal problems and litigation. In addition, an experienced attorney is familiar with the legal process (courtroom procedures, filing requirements, deadlines, etc.) and can help you work through the process should that become necessary. When you hire an attorney, all of the resources and staff of the attorney are available to protect your interests. The attorney is there to represent your best interests by researching and analyzing all of the available information and law relating to your situation and will attempt to provide you with the opportunity to make an informed decision about the legal issues you may be facing.
While it is true that hiring an attorney can be expensive, the fees charged and expenses incurred vary with each circumstance and case. If managed properly, the assistance of an attorney can be cost-effective. Some cases can be handled on a “contingency fee” where the attorney shares a percentage (usually one-third plus costs) of the amount collected as reimbursement for the services provided. Other cases or circumstance require that the work be provided based on an hourly rate plus costs. Hourly fees vary depending upon the attorney, the type of work, and the amount of future work that may be provided by the client. Our hourly rates are competitive with comparable firms in our geographical area. Costs include a wide range of expenses such as travel, deposition transcripts, copying, expert fees, and the like. In many cases, the question of how much will it cost to hire an attorney can be answered by the old television commercial slogan, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later” and in the legal arena it will usually cost much more later! In other words, incurring a single significant legal liability which might have been avoided through the early use of an attorney can erase many years of “savings” gained from not employing the services of an attorney.
Yes – early and regularly. Many business owners may not know or understand all of the laws and regulations with which their business must comply. There are numerous potential regulatory, contractual, employment, and environmental issues facing businesses today. This is especially true in the health care profession. Many business owners are willing to hire an attorney to do the formal paper work to set up the business, negotiate or draft a contract, or defend against or bring a lawsuit. However, a lawyer can also be helpful in providing general counsel for the purpose of complying with the laws in an effort to prevent legal problems from arising. In today’s business environment it is better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to legal issues.
If you are a health care professional, the answer is usually “yes.” The federal government is heavily involved in regulating the health care industry. Through those regulations, the government has established the need for health care professionals to adopt a meaningful compliance plan. The adoption and use of such a plan will provide the provider with more favorable treatment by the compliance authorities should the need arise. The plan must identify areas of concern with regard to compliance, address steps to be taken by the business to assure compliance (including adoption of written policies and procedures), and establish a means for monitoring compliance with the plan (including the designation of a compliance officer).
A living will is a document signed by you that gives directions to health care providers and others regarding the care you want to receive if diagnosed by two physicians to be terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative condition. The care requested in the document can range from full life support to withholding food and water. Should you be placed in the unfortunate situation of being terminally ill or in a permanent coma, the choice of care becomes yours rather than a family member’s. Usually a living will is prepared in conjunction with a durable power of attorney.
Everyone with children and/or assets, should talk to an attorney about an estate plan. Estate planning deals with issues surrounding the process of dying and the steps involved in transferring your assets after death. Estate planning involves disability planning, powers of attorney, gifting of assets during your lifetime, charitable contributions, asset allocation, and a number of other issues. Carefully crafted estate plans help you to control your property while you are alive, take care of yourself and loved ones in the event of disability, and transfer property to those you love as and when you want those transfers made. It is about reviewing and securing your personal choices. Your estate plan should be reviewed with your attorney regularly to ensure that tax law changes or changes in circumstances have not made your plan less effective.
The law is designed to put injured parties back to the same physical and financial position they were in prior to the accident that caused the injury. Frankly, the only way this is possible is through the payment of money by the responsible person or his insurance company. If you have sustained an injury from an automobile accident (or from a slip and fall, etc.) and the responsible party has insurance, it is important to remember that most insurance companies will try to keep its costs to a minimum. After all, insurance companies are in the business of making money. Additionally, before agreeing to settle any personal injury claim with an insurance company you would be wise to remember several other things. First, it is not uncommon for symptoms of an injury to become apparent a considerable time after the accident. Until your health care provider is confident that your recovery is complete and is willing to prepare a final report stating that your condition has returned to your pre-accident status, you may incur future accident related medical expenses. Second, once you sign the insurance company’s release form, the claim is final and closed. If additional problems develop later, you will not be able to obtain payment from the responsible person or the insurance carrier. The additional expenses will be your responsibility. Third, if the accident which resulted in your injuries was caused by another person’s carelessness, you are entitled to compensation for any pain and suffering you experience. You need to make sure these elements of the harm done to you are factored into the settlement. An experienced attorney can advise you as to the potential value of your personal injury claim.
Generally, the worker’s compensation system is designed to provide coverage for most job related injuries regardless of whether the injury is caused by the carelessness of the employer or the employee. However, injuries that result from the employee’s own intoxication or use of illegal drugs are not usually covered. Coverage may also be denied in other limited circumstances, such as self-inflicted injuries, injuries suffered while not on the job or while engaged in conduct in violation of company policy.
These materials were prepared for general informational purposes only and are not legal advice. This information is not intended to be a solicitation for professional employment. Please do not send us confidential information until you have spoken with one of our attorneys and obtain authorization to send information to us after we have checked for potential conflicts. The information contained on this web site is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. That can only occur by one of our attorneys accepting the responsibility of representing you.