Frequently Asked Questions
Up Front and Honest
Q: Why should I hire The Upton Law Firm?
A: The entire staff at The Upton Law Firm is dedicated to your satisfaction. We treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve and provide you with the knowledge and facts to understand your case and make the decisions that are right for you. Our attorneys are experienced, know the law, and will fight hard to ensure your case is resolved to your satisfaction. We always return phone calls and keep you updated and involved throughout the entire case.
Q: What does it cost to hire The Upton Law Firm?
A: One of the most important factors in deciding to hire an attorney is whether you can afford it. At The Upton Law Firm, there is never a cost or obligation for our initial evaluation of your claim. We will sit with you, listen to your side, and help you decide if you have a valid claim. Then, we will guide and educate you every step of the way. If you do not have a valid claim, we will tell you so. We will not take your case if we cannot help you.
There are various fee agreements available and how each case is structured is dependent upon what type of case it is and the individual facts involved. For example:
- Contingency Fee: This type of fee allows the Client to authorize representation with no money up front. A contingent fee is typically used in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability When we are successful in settling your case or in getting a judgment or verdict, we take a percentage of the amount recovered plus the cost of expenses. If we do not recover, you do not pay attorney’s fees, but you must pay back the costs that the firm has advanced.
- Hourly Fee: This type of fee requires the Client to provide a retainer. A retainer is money that the Client provides as a down payment for legal services. The retainer is put into an escrow account and funds are deducted from the escrow account for time spent working on the case. The work performed is tracked and billed at an hourly rate (a certain rate for attorneys and a lesser rate for paralegals). The hours are invoiced at the end of each month and the Client is sent a detailed statement showing the time spent on the case, the amount charged, and the remaining balance in the trust account. If the case resolves before the retainer is used in its entirety, the remaining balance is returned to the Client. If the retainer is used prior to the case being resolved, the Client may need to provide additional funds to replenish the retainer. This type of fee is used for criminal defense and certain administrative and civil litigation cases.
- Flat Fee: A flat fee agreement is an agreed upon amount that the Firm and the Client agree to that will cover the entire cost of the case. Most often used in minor criminal defense matters, when the use of a pretrial diversionary program is expected, or in family matters. A flat fee allows the Client comfort in knowing exactly what the cost will be prior to retaining the Firm and piece-of-mind knowing that the set amount is all he or she will have to pay.
- Split Fee: This type of agreement is a hybrid between hourly and contingency fee agreements and equalizes the risk between the Client and the Firm. Both sides assume a limited amount of risk in order to move forward and take the case to the next level. A split fee agreement is used when it is possible that the Client may recover an amount for damages through settlement, judgment or verdict at the end of the case, but the case is expected to cost a significant amount to investigate or prove liability. In a split fee agreement, the Client provides a retainer which the Firm agrees to bill against at a reduced hourly rate. If there is a recovery at the end of the case, the Firm also takes a reduced percentage as a contingency fee. This provides the Firm with the necessary funds needed to work on the case while it is happening and allows the Client to get more bang for the buck by paying a lower hourly fee. If there is no recovery at the end, the Client’s cost is limited to the reduced hourly fee and any balance remaining in the escrow account is returned to the Client. If the Client is entitled to a recovery at the end, the Firm takes a reduced percentage plus expenses, and the Client gets the remainder plus any amount left in the retainer.
- Statutory Fees: Some attorney’s fees are limited or regulated by statute. For example, in Federal Tort Claims cases, attorney’s fees are capped at 25% of the recovered amount, as opposed to the typical 33% in most personal injury cases. Social Security Disability claims are limited to a maximum recovery of $6,000 in attorney’s fees. Workers’ Compensation claims are limited to 20% of the total recovery of payments and settlements.
The amount of any retainer will depend on the facts of your case and will be determined in your initial consultation. We are always willing to work with our Clients.
Q: How long will it take to adjudicate my case?
A: There is no definite answer to this question. Every case is dependent upon its individual facts and circumstances. Every civil case has a statute of limitations, which means that you have a limited time to bring your claim before you are barred from doing so. There are certain exceptions, but it is always best to consult with an attorney early on to determine if your case has merit and to understand what your options are. Most civil case take a long time. Once the other side is put on notice that you are seeking legal action, they can choose to settle right away or proceed with discovery. If liability or damages are even remotely questionable, they will elect to go through discovery, which will take time. In rare occasions, settlement may be the best solution and some cases can be settled very quickly.
In criminal cases, the length of the case depends on the charges, the circumstances, and the Client’s willingness to accept a plea deal. In most criminal matters, the State will offer a reduction in charges and penalty in exchange for a plea of guilty. Sometimes it makes sense to accept the State’s offer, other times it doesn’t. You may also be eligible for a pretrial diversionary program. Once the program is successfully completed by the Client, the case is dismissed by the Court and cleared from your record. There are many options and you should discuss all possible options with an experienced criminal defense attorney. If your case is taken to trial, despite your constitutional right to a speedy trial, it will still take months to possibly years to reach a final resolution.
The amount of time it takes, is dependent on you as the Client and it is very important that you work with your attorney every step of the way to find the best possible solution that is right for you.
Q: What if I can’t come to West Hartford?
A: This is not a problem for The Upton Law Firm. We practice throughout the state of Connecticut and we are happy to come to your home or meet you in a place that is convenient for you. If you or your family member is incarcerated, we will make arrangements to schedule a legal visit. Distance should never be a deterrent to getting the best possible representation. Let us do the work for you!
Q: What is my case worth?
A: It depends. Case worth depends on your actual damages. If you are injured by the negligence of another, you are entitled to recover economic damages such as past and future medical costs, lost wages, property losses, etc. You may also be entitled to recover for non-economic damages for past and future pain and suffering, mental distress, and permanent scarring, disfigurement, or wrongful death. The amount of damages depends on many factors and may require experts to establish and present evidence in order to substantiate. There is no way to evaluate the full value of the case until all of your damages and losses are discovered and fully assessed.
Q: What if my case is not one of your main areas of practice?
A: Our attorneys are experienced in many areas of law. Even though the majority of our work is dedicated to personal injury, criminal defense, social security disability, workers’ compensation and military and veteran’s issues, we also service other legal matters such as employment discrimination, landlord/tenant situations, administrative matters, civil rights, business, family matters, and Indian affairs. If we cannot help you with your specific situation, we most likely can refer you to someone who can.