Most victims of the Glenview explosion can’t afford to pay attorneys an hourly rate to investigate the cause of the accident or to take a potential lawsuit to trial. For these people, the doors of the courthouse would be essentially closed were it not for the contingency fee agreement. The contingency fee agreement places the victim on a level playing field with PG&E and any others who may responsible for the explosion. Under a contingency fee agreement, the client pays nothing to the attorney for his work unless the attorney obtains for the client monetary compensation. All consultations with the attorney are free. The contingency fee agreement allows any victim access to the legal system, regardless of the victim’s financial circumstances.
Selecting an Attorney
Corporations such as PG&E seldom pay a fair settlement to a victim with an attorney who has not proven he can win against them at trial. The lack of a trial record is a weakness that a corporation such as PG&E or its insurance company will always exploit. Ask the attorney you are considering what results he has obtained for his clients against PG&E in cases like this.
Next, ask the the attorney if they are prepared to fund the case. Can the attorney afford to invest up to a million dollars for such costs as expert fees? Has he or she ever done so in the past? Or is the attorney likely to fold as trial approaches because he has run out of money or can’t afford to risk his “investment” at trial?
Your rights as a client
You have a right to be represented by the lawyer of your choosing, one with a proven track record against PG&E. You have a right to negotiate the terms of your agreement with your attorney. You have a right to fire your lawyer at any time for any reason. The State Bar of California provides more helpful tips here.