We are in an age of specialization. As times have changed, no attorney can possibly keep up with all areas and complexities of the law, and that is why our team is comprised of the top legal minds, each with their own area of practice. Our boutique firm is also unique in that while we all specialize in various aspects of the law, the size of our legal team allows us to offer high-touch counsel on nearly any facet of the law.
Our leadership team at The Law Firm of Michael J. Smith and Associates will determine which attorney can best represent you in handling your case. It may not be possible, or advantageous, to have one attorney handle all your legal matters. One lawyer will be responsible for the overall progress of the case, but from time to time, another attorney may perform certain duties within the case itself. Please do not be concerned if your case is handled by a different attorney within our firm, as ‘your attorney’ will still be your attorney. This is merely another sign, to you, that we are doing our best to handle your case as professionally and efficiently as possible.
We understand the importance of communication and transparency between attorney and client. Although we would like to talk to you weekly by telephone, that would be neither practical nor productive. Legal matters have a way of stretching out over long periods of time. To you, it may often seem like ages have gone by without activity, however, in fact, much behind-the-scenes work is being completed so that on the day your matter is ready, nothing will be overlooked. In order to keep the cost of legal services down while maximizing communications, we will strive to keep you informed when anything important happens and to respond to your questions in a reasonable time. In addition, we will inform you when your presence is required, either in our office or in court.
Simply stated, you will receive superior service through careful consideration, confident counsel and unprecedented knowledge by Michigan’s top legal team that is both efficient and effective.
We are interested in your questions and we want you to ask them. Sometimes we are required to be out of the office, even for days at a time. When in the office, we meet with clients, complete research, review documents, or prepare contracts, briefs or pleadings. For the most efficient and quickest response, please contact one of our legal assistants, as they have a working knowledge of all aspects of your case. If the assistant cannot answer your question, every attempt will be made get the answer for you or arrange to have your attorney contact you as quickly as possible as we understand your concerns and issues.
Above all, leave a message so we know your concern in advance. If you do that, we will always try to get an answer back to you even if your attorney is out of the office when you call.
You are entitled to know, to the extent that we can reasonably inform you at your first visit, what your fee will be. We encourage a frank, open discussion about our fees with each client at the time of the first interview. Lawyers are paid under various fee arrangement but regardless, you are paying for our time.
On an hourly fee basis, fees are based on an hourly rate for services rendered, detailed in a written fee agreement or itemized bill which will be given to you showing all work done on your case.
This explanation will come periodically with the intent of billing monthly.
On a flat fee basis, your legal fee is a stated-certain-sum for agreed-upon services, stated in the fee agreement. No detailed accounting will be made.
On a contingency fee basis, your legal fees will be based on the amount of recovery we get for you; no recovery, no fee. You may have the option of choosing this plan in lieu of hourly charges.
Not all cases qualify for the contingency basis; we will tell you if yours does. In
either case, we will prepare for you an employment agreement setting forth the fee arrangement.
Other potential fees:
A pre-payment will often be required in order to begin to process your matter and you will be kept advised as to how that pre-payment is being used. Bills will be sent to you periodically showing your charges and payments. Certain cases may have a minimum fee. This means that no hourly accounting will be made unless
excess time is expended. We try to keep legal fees as reasonable as possible. The amount of services required, however, is not fully within our control. We discuss with our client options for services and the benefits of services. Sometimes, however, services are directly related to an opposing party’s action or inaction. Please feel free to discuss the fees with us.
In addition to legal fees, there are various expenses that must be paid to others in order to prepare your legal matter. For example, payments must be made to obtain necessary reports or copies of necessary documents, to employ court reporters to take depositions, to obtain licenses or permits from governmental authorities, to file suits in courts of law, in addition to other outside entities that are necessary to help your cause. Generally, the amounts of these charges will be in direct proportion to the complexity of the matter involved. The easier your matter is to solve, the less these costs will ordinarily be.At the start of your legal matter, we will try to estimate for you the amount of out-of-pocket expenses which may be incurred on your behalf. We will discuss with you whether or when you will be required to reimburse us for these expenditures which are made on your behalf to further your legal cause.
A phone call to our office will direct you to the person who can best answer your question. Remember, no questions as to your rights, duties or obligations should go unanswered because you did not know which lawyer to call. Fees for these different matters will be charged in accordance with our regular practice.
From time to time, a potential conflict of interest may arise due to our representation of other clients or governmental bodies in the community. When this occurs, we will immediately withdraw from the matter, if it is already underway. You can be assured that at no time will we knowingly take part in a conflict of interest. If a potential conflict arises, we will fully disclose the facts to you, and remove ourselves from the matter and await further instructions concerning the transfer of your file to another attorney.
Certain legal matters require that monies be held “in trust” or “in escrow” for a client for weeks or months at a time. For example, a damage suit settlement may require us to hold the settlement proceeds “in escrow” until the settlement check had been cleared through normal banking procedures. We maintain a separate escrow account, and at no time is money from that account co-mingled with general funds. This is your money held in trust by your attorneys. Separate, detailed records are kept in connection with this account on your behalf.
All office visits are by appointment only. We encourage each of our clients to schedule meetings with us during regular business hours. From time to time you may request that we meet you in the evening if the matter cannot wait. While we do not encourage these “specialvisits,” we may arrange them where necessary. If we must meet with you in the evening, wemust reserve the right to add a surcharge to our regular fee for the appointment. You will be advised, in advance, of the decision concerning the surcharge. Since “special visits” may beexpensive, please avoid them wherever possible.
Personal injury cases are incidents in which injuries or deaths have occurred as a result of another’s carelessness, recklessness or intentional wrongdoing. The other person’s negligence may be the result of a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall or many other possible events.
As personal injury attorneys, we handle all type of cases including, motor vehicle accidents, tractor trailer accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, wrongful deaths and more.
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases varies based on the type of case for the specific limit in your case consult with an attorney. In general, Michigan's civil statute of limitations allows two years for personal injuries; up to six years for fraud, trespassing, collection of rent, contracts, and debt collection; and 10 years for judgments. Libel and slander (defamation) claims are the only civil action with a one-year limit.
Two main kinds of damages can be awarded in a Michigan personal injury case: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those losses you’ve suffered that are monetary in nature. For example, if you were injured at your workplace and you missed wages as a result of your injury, those lost wages would translate to economic damage. Non-economic damages are losses that don’t come with a price tag. For example, the mental anguish you suffered from a particularly violent car wreck or the depression you’ve experienced as a result of the loss of limb could be considered non-economic damages.
The following are examples of economic damages in Michigan:
- The loss of or damage to your personal property
- Medical bills and other related expenses
- Lost wages and future lost earning potential
- Caregiving expenses and mobility devices
- Mileage to and from medical appointments
Non-economic damages include the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Loss of your quality of life
The average time it takes for a personal injury case to go to trial is one to two years from the time the lawsuit is filed; however, the time it takes to reach a settlement varies greatly from one case to the next. This is largely dependent on the injuries a person receives. Some cases are complete in 2-3 months, and others may take much longer depending on the circumstances.