How to Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer in Vermont


How to Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer in Vermont


By Steven A. Bredice, Esq., Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist

Hiring a personal injury lawyer is uncharted territory for most people, and it can be nerve-wracking when you don’t know what to look for.

When people make that first call to an attorney, they often sound guarded and anxious. And why wouldn’t they be? Accident victims are under enormous stress and many Vermonters have never even talked to a personal injury lawyer before, let alone hired one. A good attorney will answer all your questions thoroughly from the get-go, starting with how their agreements with clients work.

Agreements Between Accident Victims and Injury Attorneys

Most accident lawyers in Vermont get paid based on a “contingent fee agreement,” and the state requires that these agreements are written up and signed by both client and lawyer. The amount of the contingent fee must reflect the services performed, either in terms of the effort required or the degree of difficulty of the case.

In a standard contingent fee agreement, the lawyer receives one-third of the gross amount of the recovery, plus any expenses the firm has advanced or absorbed.  The agreement should also spell out the terms in the event of the client and attorney parting ways for whatever reason before the culmination of the case.

Similarities and Differences In Attorney Fees

The general provisions of contingent fee agreements and the services they cover for personal injury cases tend to be similar, if not identical, from firm to firm, so the terms of the agreement are not usually a differentiator between different lawyers.  The only difference is some attorneys are moving to a 40 percent contingent fee, especially in medical malpractice cases.

This trend toward increased contingent fees reflects the perception that recoveries are becoming harder and harder to obtain due to economic factors and, in malpractice cases, the difficulty and expense involved, given both the high cost of the specialized experts that are required plus the zealous nature of the defense of these cases. In Vermont, most plaintiff’s lawyers work for the customary one-third fee on non-malpractice cases, with a growing trend toward the 40 percent fee on malpractice cases.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer should never be a harrowing experience. Ask about their contingent fee agreements and make sure it’s aligned with the standards we’ve discussed here. Once everything is in writing, you and your attorney should be partners that have one goal in mind – getting you results.

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Steven A. Bredice