|*Most recent Jury Verdict or Settlement: $2,500,000.00 Settlement in Contested Liability Motorcycle Accident. Motorcycle pulled out from between to left turn lanes. Below knee amputation, broken ribs and clavical.|
|*The results obtained in the cases listed were dependent upon the facts of the cases, and the results will differ in other cases based on different facts|
THE CONTINGENCY FEE SYSTEM
º Mr. Henke is aware of the fact that there has been created a negative public perception of the contingency fee system. It is often portrayed, particularly in the pervasive insurance industry propaganda, as a system by which "personal injury lawyers" take advantage of their clients. As a product of that negative public perception, it is possible that attorneys in general may have more difficulty at the outset in establishing the good attorney-client relationships so important to the most effective prosecution of their clients' rights. Therefore, Mr. Henke would offer to demonstrate that contrary to this unfortunate negative public perception, the contingency fee system is, in fact, essential to permit all of us equal access to this most important of democratic institutions, our courts.
“YOUR KEY TO THE COURTHOUSE DOOR"
º The contingency fee system is absolutely essential if all of us, rich, middle class, and poor alike, are to have any practical access to our court system. Think about it. Practically speaking, if it were not for the contingency fee system, it would be only the very rich who could pay to assert their rights in a court of law ~~ only those people who could afford to pay a lawyer by the hour. In a contested personal injury case, attorneys fees could range from several thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars at the hourly rates charged by non-contingency fee lawyers. In the absence of the contingency fee system, therefore, the fact is that most of us would have no practical means to assert our rights in our courts of law at all.
º Furthermore, under the usual non-contingency fee, hourly attorney/client fee arrangement, the client must pay the attorney's fees whether the attorney wins or loses the case; whereas, in contrast, under the common contingency fee agreement, the client pays attorneys fees only if a recovery is obtained. In an hourly, non-contingency fee arrangement, therefore, it is the client rather than the attorney that must take the "risk" that he will lose the investment of all the attorneys fees he’s paid to prosecute the litigation. Under an hourly, non-contingency fee attorney/client contract, if the case is lost, the hourly fee attorney doesn't give back to the client all the money the client has paid in hourly fees. In the hourly, non-contingency fee case, if the case is lost, the client must be prepared not only to suffer the defeat of his rights, but the loss of all the attorneys fees he was required to pay to prosecute the case.
º There can be advantages to paying an attorney an hourly fee to prosecute litigation, conceivably even personal injury litigation. However, clearly it is only by virtue of the contingency fee system that injured victims, rich, middle class, and the poor alike are empowered to pursue their rights in a court of law, without paying any attorneys fees until the case is completed, and even then, only if a recovery is obtained. Indeed, it is only by virtue of the contingency fee system, that most clients may avail an attorney's services at all, enjoy the benefit of his "day in court," and with the peace of mind that even if his case should fail, he will be able to walk away free of any financial obligation for the attorney time that was required to obtain his "day in court."
º So, in the absence of our contingency fee system, what proportion of the public do you think would have the wealth to pay hourly attorneys fees and litigation costs in order to purchase their admission to assert their rights in our courts? Would we really want a system of justice where justice itself was available only to those who could afford to pay for it? NO! This much maligned contingency fee system of ours serves an absolutely essential democratic function to make our courts equally accessible to all people, regardless of their economic status.
º Every time the insurance industry sets out to undermine the contingency fee system, with its pandering legislative lobbying, or with its "tort reform" initiatives, what do you suspect are the insurance industry's motives? Should we take at face value the calculated message of the insurers $100,000 20 second television ads, always made to appear as though they were "sponsored by" a “concerned citizens” group? Should we believe that the insurers who attack the contingency fee system are motivated by a good, high and altruistic calling to protect the public from overreaching contingency fee lawyers? Of course not! So, why do insurers so vehemently attack the contingency fee system? Well, perhaps it is to achieve precisely the effect that their carefully drafted "tort reform" initiatives and lobbied for legislation would have if enacted and actually put into practice. Think about it. The insurers want to avoid paying the valid claims of accident victims for injuries caused by those they insure ~~ claims which the insurers will continue to be held responsible to pay so long as accident victims retain the practical ability to avail the court system to prosecute their cases. The answer: Insurers attempt to create public hostility to the only existing system that permits the public access to the courts solely and specifically in order to impair the ordinary man’s practical ability to have his "day in court."
º It is only as an unfortunate bi-product of the insurance industry's "tort reform" campaigns and the industry's ongoing efforts generally to undermine public support for the contingency fee system that this unfortunate negative public impression of the contingency fee system is created.
º Now, is the contingency fee system perfect? Clearly not. Is there any other system that has ever been proposed by the insurance industry, or our legislators or anyone else for that matter, that would do a better job to permit all people access to our court system? The answer is "NO."
The facts set forth above are intended solely to for informational purposes, to counterbalance the prejudices against the contingency fee system which may, in turn, negatively influence the way clients perceive contingency fee lawyers. The information is not intended as legal advice. It is certainly not intended to advise any particular potential client to enter into a contingency fee contract with Mr. Henke or another contingency fee lawyer in preference to an hourly fee contract where an hourly fee contract would be a practical option for the individual. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages. Where the potential client has the practical ability to pay for hourly representation he should weigh the relative advantages and disadvantages of his options and chose the option that best suits him.