Why should I consult with bicycle attorney? After a crash, there are many things that need to be done to preserve your claim. In many cases, you will not need to hire an attorney. Most bicycle attorneys, including myself, offer free consultations. During these calls we can discuss whether or not it makes sense for you to hire me. In many cases I advise people that they do not need to hire me and instead I provide them with free guidance on how to manage their claim on their own.
If I need an attorney, does it really need to be a bicycle-specific one? It can be critical to consult a bicycle attorney or someone very knowledgeable about bicycling and the law. On many occasions, I’ve received calls from people who have been injured on their bicycle who explain that they talked to a general personal injury attorney who advised them that they didn’t have a claim—when in fact, they had a good claim. Whomever you call, if you feel like they do not understand your specific situation, do not be afraid to call someone who can better appreciate what you went through. Don’t mistake a strong voice and confident attitude for the law.
How much will it cost me to hire you? My standard fee is 33% of the gross settlement value for all cases that are settled at least two weeks before arbitration or a trial. This includes a majority of the cases that I have handled as a bicycle attorney. For cases that are settled within two weeks of arbitration or trial, the fee increases to 40% of the gross settlement value. Any time an offer to settle is made, I will discuss with you how much you would receive and how much I would receive under the proposed settlement. You have the final say as to whether you settle or we continue to pursue your claim.
Will I have any out-of-pocket costs before the claim is resolved? No. Under Washington State Law I am allowed to pay various expenses for you while I represent you. I do not require reimbursement for these expenses until my representation is complete. Typical types of costs that I can advance to you include: the costs of ordering medical records, the costs of filing a lawsuit if one is filed, and other litigation costs. While some attorneys charge their clients administrative costs such as postage, copying, etc., I consider those costs as part of my fee and do not charge them to you. My fee agreement details the costs for which you will and will not be responsible. At any time, I am happy to provide you with a complete accounting of what costs have been advanced.
Will I have to come to your office? Not if you don’t want to. My office is bike and person friendly (comfy couch!) and a Safe Zone for all. However, I’m happy to ride to a location that is comfortable for you. I want to make your experience as easy as possible and I understand that given your injuries or availability, coming to my office may not be what is most convenient for you. Just ask!
What if I’m concerned about bankrupting the person who hit me? This is something I hear quite a lot. Many of my clients do not harbor ill will towards the person who struck them and many report that it did not seem like the driver hit them “on purpose.” They don’t want to cause harm to the person who hit them by trying to take money from them—even though they are often out a lot of money for their treatment. However, most of the claims we make are against the driver’s insurance company and sometimes to recover money from the bicyclist’s own insurance company if the driver does not have enough coverage. Only rarely are claims made against a driver’s personal assets and only at the approval of the client!
What if I did something wrong that contributed to the crash? Not all my clients are completely without fault. Making mistakes does not necessarily mean that you don’t have a claim. Washington is a comparative fault state, which means that both parties can share fault and share in the costs of the damage. Before deciding on your own that your claim is not worth anything, please seek a free consultation with a bicycle attorney to help you make an informed decision that considers all the information—not just what you did or didn’t do.
Why don’t you list settlements on your website? I understand that many attorneys do just that, and that it can be compelling. I find that listing settlements can be misleading. First, it suggests that the bottom-line dollar amount is the most important part of every person’s settlement. In my experience, this is not true. Some of my most satisfied and appreciative clients were ones for whom the settlement amount was only a few thousand dollars, or who could have pushed for more money but wanted to stay at a sum they felt was fair and appropriate. I also find that by listing settlement amounts it leads people to believe (whether consciously or unconsciously) that their own claim is worth that amount. Every claim is different and I’d be happy to talk to you about the range I believe your particular claim could be worth based on the information you present to me.
What does it mean to be a “bike attorney”? As should be apparent from my website, I focus on representing people who have been injured in bicycle crashes. I hold no special certification but I have spent many years focusing my practice on representing people who have been injured on their bikes. In Washington State, and many others, it is unethical for attorneys to say that they “specialize” in any area of law. This is because most states do not have any certification programs in any specialty like there are for doctors, for example. However, attorneys are not prohibited from concentrating in specific areas of law. My practice is entirely focused on bicycle law. Many general practice attorneys will maintain separate websites where they advertise specific focuses, such as bicycle law.