Back to Homepage The Law Offices of Phillip W. Snyder
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  1. Do I need a lawyer?

  2. Can I afford a lawyer?

  3. What is a "contingent" fee contract?

  4. Do I have a case?

  5. Do I need a lawyer if my own insurance is taking care of my bills from an auto accident?

  6. Is the insurance company for the other driver offering me a fair settlement?

  7. I bought one of those do-it-yourself-will-kits.  Isn't that just as good as going to a lawyer?

  8. If I die without a will, what will happen to my estate?

  9. Can't my spouse and I file our own divorce papers?

  10. But if we both get lawyers, won't the divorce will become bitter and protracted?

  11. We recently discovered some structural problems in our new house.  What can we do?

  12. Why won't my insurance company won't pay off on a claim I made so many months ago?

  13. What is a "fiduciary duty"?

  14. When does a landlord have to refund a security deposit?

  15. What is "wrongful termination"?

  16. One of my superiors at work keeps making suggestive comments.  What can I do?
Contingent Fee Contracts
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Do I need a lawyer?

If you have asked the question, the simple answer most likely is "Yes."  If you have a legal problem, whether it be an auto accident, a DUI, a contract dispute, or something similar, you can always benefit from having a person with professional training and an unbiased disposition review the facts and evaluate your legal position.  That you were concerned enough to ask the question suggests that the problem is one which is sufficiently important to you for you to seek wise counsel.  Wouldn't you feel more comfortable if an attorney who had assessed your case was the one to suggest that you didn't need a lawyer?


Can I afford a lawyer?

Can you afford not to have a lawyer?  If you have a legal problem, how much would it cost you to walk away and just ignore it?  What risk are you taking that not hiring an attorney would be just like walking away from the problem?  My office has a variety of payment options for clients who need legal services but are strapped for available cash.  In certain cases, I will offer a contingent fee contract.


What is a "contingent" fee contract?

Many attorneys offer a contingent fee contract in certain types of cases, most commonly in personal injury cases such as automobile accidents or medical malpractice.  The fees paid to the attorney are contingent upon gaining a recovery from the opposing party, whether by settlement or judgment.  No award, no fee!

Want to know more about contingent fee agreements?


Do I have a case?

This question is best answered after consultation with a well-trained professional who can assess the facts and the law from an impartial perspective.  My office offers an initial consultation appointment without charge to new clients.


I was injured in a motor vehicle collision a few months ago.  Do I need a lawyer if my own insurance is taking care of my bills from an auto accident?  What good would it do me to hire an attorney?

Maybe none; maybe a lot.  It often depends on the seriousness of your injuries.  While the Personal Injury Protection converage under your own policy may pay up to $50,000 in medical and $50,000 in rehabilitation benefits and a significant percentage of your lost wages for up to 52 weeks of disability, your only means of recovering for the balance of your lost wages, your pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, or other recognized elements of damage will be against the party liable for the accident.  My office offers a free initial consultation for all auto accident cases.


I was involved in a automobile accident several months ago.  I just got a call from the other driver's insurance carrier with an offer to settle any claim I had against its insured.  Is the insurance company for the other driver offering me a fair settlement?

Remember that the claimsperson offering you a settlement is an employee of the opposing insurance carrier who is paid to save his company's money, not give it away by way of overly generous settlement deals.  My office will review your auto accident case without charge.  If I don't think the settlement offer is fair, I'll tell you that.  But if I don't think I can do any better than you've done on your own, I won't take the case.


I bought one of those "do-it-yourself-will-kits."  Isn't that just as good as going to a lawyer?

Would you buy a "do-it-yourself" kit from a mortician?  How are you going to know it was any good if you're not going to be around to review the fruits of your cost-saving labor?  Do the publishers of the kit give any guarantee or warranty that the will you make will make it through probate?  And if it doesn't, will your survivors and heirs have any claim against the publishers for the damages your estate will suffer when your will is tossed out?  Have I asked enough questions to answer yours?


If I die without a will, what will happen to my estate?

If you die without a will ("intestate"), the Colorado Revised Statutes will determine to whom and in what proportion your estate is distributed.  Generally speaking, half will go to your spouse and half will go in equal shares to your children.  Your parents and siblings would also be in line as heirs if you did not have a wife or children.  The number of possible combinations is beyond the scope of this FAQ page.  A short consultation with an attorney at a minimal charge, if any, would help you understand your particular situation.


My spouse and I want to dissolve our marriage, but we don't want to have to pay a lot of money to a lawyer.  Can't we file our own divorce papers?

Sure.  But handling your own divorce is similar to handling your own taxes.  If there are no children and your marital property is minimal, you might find the dissolution process to be a simple one--like doing a 1040A or 1040EZ.  But if child custody issues need to be determined or if the marital estate is complicated with a family home, disproportionate earning potential between the spouses, retirement and health plans, and the costs of higher education for the children, your best assurance of equal protection of the interests of both parties would be to have a professional trained to evaluate the marital situation counsel you.


But if we both get lawyers, won't the divorce will become bitter and protracted?

The bitterness that occasionally surfaces during dissolution proceedings almost always stems from the problmes within the marriage itself, not from the presence of two adversarial attorneys.  While lawyers are ethically bound to zealously represent their clients' best interests, this office values repeat clients and takes a macroscopic view of what its client's "best interest" is.  Cutthroat or "Rambo" lawyers do a disservice to their clientel and to their profession, sacrificing the big picture for short term gain.  If you and your spouse make an earnest effort to remain amicable throughout the divorce process, your attorneys will reflect your attitude.


We closed on our new house a couple of months ago but didn't have a building inspection done while the deal was in escrow.  We recently discovered some structural problems in our new house.  What can we do?

That will depend on a number of factors, such as the exact nature of the structural problems, whether they could have been discovered by a reasonably prudent building inspector, whether the sellers knew of the conditions, and the cost of repairs.  A thorough review of the property's listing, advertisements, and closing documents should also be undertaken.  My office has handled these types of real estate disputes before and would evaluate your case during a no-fee initial consultation.


I made a claim against my own insurance policy months ago, but all I hear from my carrier is that it's "under review."  Why won't my insurance company won't pay off on a claim I made so many months ago?

If your own insurance company does not have a sound reason for denying your claim or prolonging its review, its representatives may be acting in bad faith, breaching its fiduciary duty owed to you.  If so, you may be entitled to damages caused by the unnecessary delay.

Want to learn more about bad faith in the insurance business?


What is a "fiduciary duty"?

Your relationship to your own insurance company is quite different under the law from that of an insurance company of, for example, a driver with whom you were in an accident.  Because you entered into a contract with your insurance company to provide important services, much like the duty of your attorney or accountant, its employees and representatives owe you a duty of utmost good faith.  If it fails to live up to those high standards, your insurer breaches its fiduciary duty to you.


I moved out of an apartment complex a couple of months ago, but I haven't gotten my deposit back yet.  When does a landlord have to refund a security deposit?

First, review the terms of the written lease you had on the apartment.  If the lease is silent on when a deposit should be refunded or if your lease was oral, there is a timetable in the Colorado Revised Statutes which specifically sets out minimum standards.  If you're still uncertain, talk to a lawyer about it.  If you have to hire a lawyer to enforce the law, the landlord may have to pay your attorney's fees.


I have never gotten along well with my boss.  Yesterday he fired me.  What is "wrongful termination"?

Generally speaking, Colorado is an employment-at-will state.  That means either the employee or employer may terminate the employment relationship for no reason at all.  However, the employer cannot terminate it for certain prohibited reasons, such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, or as retaliation for the exercise of legally-protected rights, such as voting or filing a workers' compensation claim.  This assumes that there was no binding contract of employment between you and your employer which contained provisions controlling its termination.  If you have reason to believe that your employer's decision to terminate you was caused by wrongful reasons, you should consult with a lawyer.


One of my superiors at work keeps making suggestive comments.  I'm afraid if I speak up about it, I'll lose my job and get a reputation as a troublemaker.  What can I do?

Don't delay!  Talk to a lawyer about your problems.  Sexual harassment often starts off as subtle pressure, but can escalate to demands and threats if not timely curtailed.  Working hand in hand with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, your attorney may be in the best position to protect your employment security, history, and reputation.


I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney on all legal matters.
Many attorneys, including this office, will offer an initial consultation at no charge
so that you may make an informed decision about whether professional legal asssistance is warranted.



or E-mail my office at

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