How Much Will Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney Cost Me?
Few lawyers work for free, so cost is always a concern when potential clients come to meet with us.
After an accident, our clients need compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.
They want and need as much compensation as possible, which means they naturally want to keep their attorney’s fees low.
What you need to know is that most lawyers will not charge a personal injury attorney fee.
Instead, they will take a percentage of any settlement or jury verdict that you win. This is called working “on contingency.”
What Are Contingency Fees?
If you were to get divorced, your lawyer would charge you an hourly rate for all work she performed on your case. Each month you would receive a bill, and you would have 30-60 days to pay. If the lawyer charges $200 an hour and does 50 hours of work, you will pay $10,000.
Contingency fees are different. A client pays no attorneys’ fees upfront. Instead, the lawyer agrees to represent a client with the understanding that the lawyer will take a certain percentage of any settlement or verdict. This means the attorney does not get paid unless they win your case.
What Percentage Does a Lawyer Get in a Settlement Case?
The exact percentage is open to agreement. Generally, personal injury attorneys take 33-40% of the settlement. This might seem like a lot, but on average lawyers usually get much more money for their clients than the client could get on their own. Many injured people who try to represent themselves make critical errors and end up getting no money.
Here’s how it works. If your lawyer settles your case for $90,000, then he will probably get around $30,000 if the fee contract is 33 1⁄3% contingency fee. The remainder will encompass any advanced costs, medical liens, and the client’s portion. Our clients make the final decision on whether a case settles after knowing how the settlement will be distributed.
Are Contingency Fees Ethical?
Absolutely. Contingency fees benefit clients in many ways:
- Clients have access to an experienced attorney without needing to pay anything upfront.
- Because lawyers only get paid if they win, they have an incentive to turn down cases that lack merit. If a lawyer agrees to represent you, chances are you have a solid legal claim.
- Lawyers have an incentive to maximize the amount of any settlement or verdict, since doing so benefits the attorney as well as the client.
Your lawyer should thoroughly explain the contingency fee agreement to you and give you the agreement in writing. Read it carefully and ask any questions that you have.
What Are Additional Costs and How Much are They?
Every lawsuit involves expenses in addition to attorneys’ fees. For example, these costs can include:
- Fees to obtain medical records
- Court filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
When meeting with an attorney for a free consultation, ask how you will be expected to pay these fees. Some lawyers will bill you as you incur them. Others will wait and take them out of your final settlement or verdict.
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As you can see, there is no typical type of attorney fees for personal injury cases. Instead, the amount a lawyer receives will depend on how much he or she obtains in your settlement.