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No-Fault Explained: Attorney Fees

Your no-fault lawyer makes a living representing accident victims and making sure the insurance company pays the benefits you deserve. But where does the money to pay the attorney come from? Will you have to decide between paying doctor bills or attorney fees?

Getting Your Attorney Fees Paid

MCL 500.3148 controls attorney fees in a lawsuit under the Michigan No-Fault Act. It allows you to collect a reasonable fee for your lawyer on top of any benefits you are otherwise entitled to. Before attorney fees can be awarded, your lawyer will have to show that the insurance company unreasonably refused or delayed your payment. However, since payments are due 30 days after the expense is incurred, most cases that go to trial will include an attorney fee award.

Attorney Fee Awards to Insurance Companies

On the other extreme, if the court determines that your claim for no-fault benefits is fraudulent or “so excessive as to have no reasonable foundation” you can be ordered to pay for the insurance company’s attorney. That’s one reason why your trial attorneys will do a medical investigation into your case before ever filing a complaint. The last thing an auto accident attorney wants is for you to have to pay the insurance company more money after your accident. If your claim could fall into the excessive or unreasonable category, the no-fault attorneys at Christensen Law will not take the case.

Attorney Fees after Case Evaluation

As an effort to settle more cases, most local courts will refer no-fault lawsuits to Case Evaluation. Once the panel of lawyers reviews your case, they will put a value on it. If either side chooses not to settle for that amount, that party will be responsible for all attorney fees that come up after case evaluation if they don’t do better at trial. Your trial attorney will discuss the risks of turning down a case evaluation settlement, including the risk of attorney fees if you lose.

Attorney Fees in Settlement Cases

Since most no-fault cases settle eventually, it is important for you and your lawyer to talk about how your attorney fees will be paid if you settle. Most auto accident cases are handled on a “contingency fee” – which means the attorney takes a certain percent of any money you receive off the top. Your attorney will also need to be repaid for cost of experts, depositions, transcripts, and other out-of-court costs. Before saying yes to a settlement, make sure you will have enough to pay all your bills after the attorney fees and costs are settled.

A good no-fault lawyer will make sure your attorney fees won’t put you in the poor house. Through motions, settlements, and careful negotiations, Christensen Law will make sure when the case is closed you have enough to pay your bills. Don’t settle for less than you owe. Contact the Christensen law team today for a free consultation on the strength of your case.