In many cases, the client cannot afford to pay court costs and expenses as they are incurred. Counsel can agree, but is not required, to advance expenses on behalf of the client. Ordinarily, the client is ultimately responsible for the payment of costs and expenses. However, attorney and client may agree to make the repayment obligation contingent on the outcome of the case. [CRPC 4–210(A)(3); Ojeda v. Sharp Cabrillo Hosp., supra, 8 CA4th at 9, 21, 10 CR2d at 235, 243–244]. In such event, of course, the attorney has a right to repayment only if the client prevails in the action (by judgment or settlement) as specified in the agreement (see ¶ 1:169). As to insurance companies, many of them use “in-house” lawyers to handle routine cases. Unlike “independent” counsel who are retained on a case-by-case basis to defend selected claims, these defense attorneys are full-time employees of the insurance carrier. In-house counsels usually are specialists in the defense of bodily injury claims. But for settlement purposes, they typically are used only as “conduits” between claimant’s attorney and the claims representative—i.e., as a vehicle to communicate the positions of each side. Claims personnel are less likely to be persuaded by the settlement recommendations of their own legal staff—particularly where the opinion markedly differs from their own. On the other hand, claims personnel generally are more amenable to the settlement recommendations of independent counsel. Thus, so long as you can convince such attorney of the merits of the claim, you are likely to have greater success in settling at your “bottom line” figure than if negotiations had continued through the carrier’s in-house counsel. (Of course, if the carrier does assign in-house counsel to the case, you should continue negotiations with an open mind; if a compromise cannot be achieved at this stage, there is still a chance for success at a later time—e.g., deposition, arbitration hearing, mandatory settlement conference, etc.). It is best to consult a lawyer in order to help you with your personal injury case.
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