FAQ

Q1. What kinds of matters do you handle? +

We represent clients in litigation and transactional matters, including:

Q2. Who are your clients? +

We serve the legal needs of a wide range of clients including residential and commercial insurance policy holders, residential and commercial property owners, community associations (condominium associations and townhome associations), property management companies, private individuals, and small and mid-size businesses.

Q3. What states do you practice in? +

Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC represents clients throughout the Midwest. We are licensed to practice in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado. Additionally, we have been admitted to represent clients in other states for particular cases (commonly called admitted pro hac vice) in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa.

Q4. How can I become a client of your firm? +

Please contact us by telephone, e-mail, or our web interface. One of our attorneys will contact you to discuss your legal needs and whether our firm is able to assist you. If we decide that there is a good fit between your legal needs and our firm, we will schedule a face-to-face meeting to discuss your legal needs in greater detail and go over the terms of our representation. If we both agree to work together, then we will prepare a retainer agreement summarizing the scope and terms of our representation.

We do not charge any fee for these initial consultations.

Q5. If you take my case, what do you expect of me? +

We expect you to be honest, responsive, cooperative, and diligent. We expect you to ask us any questions and inform us of any concerns you have. We expect us to clearly communicate your expectations and goals. And we expect you to be receptive to honest legal advice.

Q6. What are your fees? +

We are committed to providing exceptional legal service for a reasonable fee. Depending on the needs of the client and the particulars of the case, we will work on either an hourly, flat fee, or contingent fee basis.

For our hourly and flat fee clients, our rates are highly competitive. Because we are a small boutique law firm with low overhead, we are able to charge lower rates than attorneys at mid and large-size firms.

We also handle cases on a contingency basis for those clients who may require greater flexibility. Contingent fee arrangements are most common in personal injury cases, although we are willing to entertain such arrangements in other matters if it makes sense for us and you.

Q7. What about litigation costs and out-of-pocket expenses? +

In addition to legal fees, our clients may have to pay for various expenses in connection with their matter. These can include but are not limited to: (1) court filing fees; (2) court reporter fees for depositions; and (3) expert fees to non-attorney consultants who may assist in evaluating your claim. Generally the amount of litigation costs and out-of-pocket expenses are directly proportional to the complexity of the matter. The easier the matter is to solve, the less these costs will ordinarily be.

We provide all of our clients with estimates of anticipated litigation costs and out-of-pocket expenses.

Q8. How do you communicate with your clients? +

We communicate with clients in a variety of ways, including by telephone, written correspondence, and e-mail.

We believe that client communication is critical to maintaining a healthy attorney/client relationship. Our clients get clear written estimated budgets and timetables for their cases within the first 30 days of their case, and regular written monthly status updates. Our clients also have access to us at any time via telephone and e-mail. You will always be able to reach your attorney when you work with Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC.

Q9. I think I may have a claim against my insurance company. Are there deadlines or time periods that I should be concerned about? +

Yes, there are various complicated deadlines that could apply.

Your insurance policy is a contract, and almost certainly specifies how long you have to sue your insurance company if you believe that it has acted improperly. Some insurance policies require their insureds to sue within as little as one (1) year from the date of the loss giving rise to the insurance claim. (The time limit to sue is referred to as the “limitation period” or the “statute of limitations.”) With a few exceptions, failure to take legal action against your insurance company within the time period specified by the insurance policy will likely bar your claim.

The only way to know how long you have to take legal action against your insurance company is to carefully review your insurance policy. Our attorneys have substantial experience reading and interpreting insurance policies, and can help you determine how long you have to take action against your insurance carrier. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Q10. What is involved in starting a lawsuit against my insurance company? +

We would prepare a summons and complaint, which are two written documents that set forth the basic facts of your claim. We then serve the summons and complaint on your insurance company. Service of the summons and complaint on your insurance company starts the lawsuit and stops the clock from running on the statute of limitations.

Q11. How long does it take to resolve a lawsuit against an insurance company? +

The short answer is, “it depends.” Every case is different, and the length of time it takes to resolve a lawsuit depends on the parties involved, the complexity of the case, the court where the case is venued, and the attorneys who represent the parties. It could take as little as six months to as long as 18 months to resolve a lawsuit against an insurance company.

Q12. I think my insurance company is intentionally undervaluing my insurance claim. Do I have to sue in order to get what I think I am owed? +

While you certainly have the right to bring a lawsuit against your insurance carrier, you may have other, less expensive and less time-consuming options. For example, your insurance policy may give you the right to demand an appraisal hearing to resolve a dispute with your insurance carrier over the value of the insurance claim. An appraisal hearing is a non-judicial method to resolve disputes over the amount of an insured loss. The purpose of an appraisal hearing is to provide policyholders with a plain, speedy, inexpensive, and just determination of the extent of the loss.

If your policy contains an appraisal clause, then you can make a written demand to your insurance company for an appraisal hearing. You will then need to select an appraiser to represent you on the appraisal panel. Your insurance company will also select an appraiser to represent it. The two appraisers then jointly select an umpire to preside over the appraisal hearing.

Appraisal hearings typically occur within 1-2 months of the demand. Depending on the complexity of the matter, an appraisal hearing can last from a few hours to a few days. At the appraisal hearing, you and your insurance carrier will both have an opportunity to present witnesses and evidence to the appraisal panel. After it hears all of the evidence, the appraisal panel determines the value of the loss and issues an award.

You are entitled to have an attorney represent you and present witnesses and evidence on your behalf at the appraisal hearing. Our attorneys have represented numerous insureds in appraisal hearings, and understand how to present a strong and persuasive argument on behalf of our clients.

We invite you to contact us to discuss whether we can assist you in resolving your dispute with your insurance carrier.

Q13. My insurance company has denied my insurance claim, but I think that my insurance policy covers the damage. What should I do? +

The first step is to determine whether the insurance carrier properly denied the claim. An insurance carrier usually sends a denial letter to its insured when it denies an insurance claim. The denial letter is supposed to state the basis for the insurance carrier’s denial of the claim. But usually, the denial letter does little more than quote portions of the insurance policy without any real discussion of the facts surrounding the claim. We regularly review insurance claim denials for our clients, and have substantial experience in analyzing insurance policy language in light of the facts surrounding the claim.

If your insurance carrier improperly denied your claim, then you can take legal action to enforce your rights under the insurance policy. This generally involves suing your insurance carrier and asking the court to force it to honor the insurance policy. This type of lawsuit is referred to as a “declaratory judgment action.” We regularly represent clients in insurance disputes, and have successfully prosecuted declaratory judgment actions in state and federal court.

We invite you to contact us if you would like an independent review of your insurance claim and an analysis of your legal rights.

Q14. Why should I work with Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC? +

We understand that our clients’ legal needs are very important and the decision of whom to hire as their attorneys is a difficult one. There are several reasons why we believe you can trust us with your case:

First, our values. Our firm emphasizes three tenets: integrity, honesty, and tenacity. Integrity means putting our clients’ interests above all else. You will always come first when you work with Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC. Honesty means being candid with our clients about their case. A good lawyer tells clients what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. You will always get straightforward, honest legal advice when you work with Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC. Tenacity means giving our clients and their cases everything we have. We will not be outworked by our opponents. When Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC handles your case, you can rest assured that your attorneys are giving you 100%.

Second, our experience. We have over 40 years of combined legal experience. We’ve handled over a thousand cases. And we’ve tried over a hundred cases to verdict. Additionally, we have all worked as defense attorneys in the past. We are intimately familiar with the defense strategies that our opponents use and the attorneys we are likely to face. Our past experience as defense attorneys for insurance companies, general contractors, and subcontractors gives us a huge advantage over other lawyers.

Third, our size. As a small boutique law firm, we are poised to give our clients exceptional service and personal attention that you just will not get at a larger law firm. We value our relationships with our clients. We believe that a “hands on” approach is the best way to get exceptional results for our clients. Our named partners work hand-in-hand with our clients to identify and achieve their goals. Your case will get personal attention from an experienced legal team when you choose to work with Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC.