There may be dozens of questions you have for your potential lawyer. While we cannot provide legal advice on our website, we can provide answers to some general questions that may help you decide which lawyer is best suited to help you.

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Hiring a Lawyer

What should I look for in selecting a lawyer to represent me?
Before hiring a lawyer, you should spend some time researching the law firm you are considering. Ask for information about the lawyer's education, training, and experience dealing with cases similar to yours. Ask the lawyer to go over the fee contract with you in detail, and be sure you understand how you will pay the lawyer's fee and litigation costs at the end of the case. Ask about the possible adverse consequences if your case is lost. Ask if your lawyer intends to handle your case alone, and, if you are told that lawyers from outside law firms will be assisting, find out what the fee arrangements will be.

I have an attorney who handles my family matters. Why do I need another attorney?
Your cases may be against parties who are represented by adjusters and defense lawyers hired by insurance companies. You can expect that your opposition will be represented by an attorney with a great deal of experience litigating your type of case. Hiring an attorney experienced in your specific type of case may best serve your interests. (A great general practice doctor would never attempt heart surgery!)

About Motley Rice

What kinds of cases does Motley Rice handle?
Motley Rice represents people (plaintiffs) in civil litigation cases. Our cases have involved occupational disease and toxic tort (including asbestos and burn pit exposure), aviation disasters, catastrophic injury, defective medical devices, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, environmental contamination, anti-terrorism and human rights. We also represent unions, businesses, institutions and governmental entities in securities and consumer fraud matters.

Where does Motley Rice handle cases?
Motley Rice litigates cases in all 50 states, as well as internationally, along with co-counsel if needed.

Where do Motley Rice's clients live?
We have clients from every state and many countries around the world, including more than 6,500 asbestos clients from Canada. As needed, our attorneys travel to meet with our clients at their homes or in their towns. We also have offices in Connecticut; New York; Rhode Island; South Carolina: Washington, D.C.; and West Virginia.

I don't live in South Carolina. Can I still hire Motley Rice for representation?
Yes. If you choose Motley Rice to represent you, we can handle your case alone or with our national co-counsel network or local counsel. This network enables us to prepare, file and litigate lawsuits anywhere in the United States.

If I hire a big, well-known law firm like Motley Rice, will I get the personal attention I get from a sole practitioner?
Our clients enjoy the personal contact typically associated with a small law firm but with the resources of a large, well-established firm.

If I call for information, what do you need to know about my potential case?
A great deal of our time is spent gathering information from potential clients who contact us for the first time. Names and dates are always important, and we will often ask a new client to write a chronology of the events that led him/her to seek legal counsel. We will want to hear as much detail as you can provide about your potential case so that we can make informed decisions about whether to represent you and, if so, how we should prosecute your potential claim(s).

What can I expect from my first appointment with your firm?
At Motley Rice you will find a courteous and professional staff. Meeting your lawyer for the first time can be a stressful experience, and we will do our best to make you comfortable. Our staff reserves plenty of time to meet with new clients to discuss potential cases. Having documents at our disposal is beneficial, so we always suggest that new clients bring pertinent paperwork. Of course, the initial consultation is always free.

Will I have to put up any money to get started?
The majority of the cases we handle involve a contingent fee contract. That means we do not get paid until and unless our client makes a recovery. Generally, our fees will be a percentage of any recovery, and that percentage is computed before deducting expenses. In limited circumstances, we will represent a client on an hourly basis if the case calls for such a contract, in which case the retainer agreement will reflect that the client will pay expenses as they are incurred. In either instance, the full details of the fee and cost agreement you have with our firm will be explained to you in detail before we begin pursuing your potential claim(s).

Who pays for case-related out-of-pocket expenses while my case is pending?
This will depend on the fee and cost agreement that is agreed to in your case. When we represent a client on a contingent fee basis, we advance litigation expenses incurred during our representation. In that situation, our fee will be a percentage of the recovery computed before deducting expenses. If and when the case reaches a successful conclusion, the costs we have expended are returned to us out of your recovery before our fees are calculated.

Once you take my case, can I count on you to win?
We will do our best to represent our clients. There are no guaranteed outcomes for any lawsuit or claim. Our clients can count on the fact that we work hard and efficiently to make sure that the cases we prosecute are thoroughly prepared.

How do you decide whether to accept a settlement or take a case before a jury?
Deciding when to accept or reject a settlement offer is rarely an easy decision. Our lawyers advise our clients of the pros and cons of trying their cases versus settling before trial. We do our best to help our clients decide whether a settlement offer is a fair one, but the decision is ultimately the client's.

I have never been involved in a trial. How do you help your clients prepare?
Statistics prove that most cases get resolved prior to going to trial. Regardless, we believe in being prepared in the event that a settlement agreement between the parties cannot be reached. By the time a case is ready for trial, our clients will have spent a great deal of time with our lawyers and staff. You will know what to expect if and when your case goes to trial.

Legal Terms

What is a claim?
A claim is a demand for money, property, damages or the enforcement of a right.

What is co-counsel?
Co-counsel is an attorney with another firm who works with Motley Rice to represent clients.

What is a plaintiff?
A plaintiff is the person or entity who sues a defendant in court.

What is a defendant?
A defendant is the person or entity the plaintiff sues for committing an alleged wrong. 

What are compensatory damages?
Compensatory or actual damages are monetary payments made to compensate a plaintiff for loss or injury.

What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages punish or make an example out of a wrongdoer.  A plaintiff may receive all or some portion of a punitive damage award.

What is a settlement?
A settlement is an agreement between the parties to a lawsuit. It resolves the case, often before any trial.

What is a statute of limitations (SOL)?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time within which a lawsuit must be brought against a defendant if it is to be brought at all.

How long after I am harmed do I have to file a lawsuit to recover the damage done to me or my business?
You must file your lawsuit within a certain amount of time. The cut-off date for your ability to file is called the statute of limitations (SOL). The rules stating how long you have to file your case are different depending on what type of case you have and in what court it needs to be filed.

I keep reading about "the tort system." Exactly what is a tort?
The word "tort" comes from the Latin word for "wrong". The tort system typically refers to the court system's handling of personal injury negligence and similar cases.

What is a class action? 
A class action is a lawsuit that allows a number of people or entities to bring a legal claim as a group, called the class. In order to bring a case as a class, the people or entities must be similarly situated, meaning they must have common factual and legal concerns and similar types of harm because of the actions of the same defendant(s). An example of a class action handled by Motley Rice is: Charles Schwab class action.

What is a putative class action? 
A putative class action is a potential class. It is filed by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and others who allegedly suffered a common wrong (the putative class). If the court agrees with the plaintiffs(s), it will certify the class, turning the lawsuit into a class action. An example of a putative class action handled by Motley Rice is: AirTran Airways putative class action.

Why file a class action instead of many individual cases?
A class action is an economically practical way to help clients who have small, individual claims that would be too expensive to bring by themselves.

Who brings a class action?
A class action can be brought by a person, a group of people or an entity known as the class representative, also called a "named plaintiff" or "lead plaintiff." The class representative sues on behalf of all class members in the class action lawsuit. The class representative must:

  • Have claims that are similar in nature to other class members.
  • Have been harmed by the same defendant(s) alleged to have hurt the other class members.
  • Have no conflict of interest with other class members.
  • Be represented by an attorney.
  • Be knowledgeable about the lawsuit, available to consult with the lawyer(s) representing him or her and be available to appear at trials or depositions if necessary.

What types of class actions may be filed?
Class actions are filed for the following reasons:

  • For compensatory (money) damages.
  • To resolve disputes over a "limited fund," when there is not enough money to fully compensate all class members.
  • To seek "declaratory judgment," which declares the rights, duties or obligations of one or more entities in a dispute.
  • To seek injunctive relief, which requires an individual or entity to do or refrain from a certain action in order to prevent a potential injustice. 

What are the benefits of a class action?

A class action is sometimes the only way people or entities can correct injustices committed by powerful corporations. A class action can place individuals in a stronger position to litigate against what are often enormous, multi-national corporations and institutions. A class consists of numerous people or entities, so the defendant(s) must take the litigation more seriously because there is more at stake for them to lose. As former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said, "The class action is one of the few legal remedies the small claimant has against those who command the status quo."

What is a class period? 
A class period is the particular time frame during which the defendant is alleged to have engaged in improper or negligent conduct.

What is a claim form? 
A claim form is a document required by the court that all class members must file in order to participate in a court-approved settlement.

What is a settlement notice? 
A settlement notice is a letter to the class members explaining the terms of the class action settlement and describing the class members' compensation and rights under the settlement.

How long does it take for a class action to be resolved?
Many factors affect the amount of time required to resolve a class action. Some cases settle soon after the action is filed. Others may take several years and ultimately go to trial. Lawyers at Motley Rice approach each case individually and with an ultimate jury trial in mind.

What is multidistrict litigation (MDL)?
Multidistrict litigation is when all pending civil cases of a similar type filed through the United States are transferred to one federal judge to be handled. MDLs help the court system more efficiently handle cases that involve hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs having similar claims. Examples of MDL litigation Motley Rice attorneys are handling are:  Kugel Mesh Hernia Patch MDL and KBR Burn Pit MDL.

Is multidistrict litigation the same as a class action?
No. A class action lawsuit involves a large number of plaintiffs who have suffered a common wrong and bring suit as one group. Cases in multidistrict litigation are not combined into one case as in a class action. Although tried in one court before the same judge, the plaintiffs' cases remain individually active, and damage awards or settlements are tailored to the individual plaintiffs' cases.