How much can you expect to pay if you need a personal injury attorney? Do you have to pay up front, or do you pay after your attorney has won you a settlement, whether before or at trial? Attorneys’ fees vary from law firm to law firm and even vary within a firm, based on the needs of the client and services provided by the law firm. Fill out the form for a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys on what we can do for you and what personal lawyer fee you may expect.
Most lawyers charge personal injury lawyer fees for the cases they take on, except for those that work cases pro bono (for nothing). You might worry about whether you can afford a lawyer for your personal injury case. The good news is, legal representation is available, even if you think you can’t pay for an attorney. There are options available.
A standard fee is about one-third of whatever settlement is reached. That can go up to 40% if a lawsuit is filed, and a jury awards a judgment in the case. The fee must be kept within reason given the difficulty of a case, the skill needed to handle a case, and time and work that goes into a case.
Occasionally an attorney may be willing to collect their fee percentage on a sliding scale. They might only collect 25 percent if your claim is settled shortly after they send the first settlement demand, up to 33 percent if negotiations continue to settlement, and 40 percent or more if your case proceeds to court or some sort of arbitration. The fees are typically negotiated and written out in the contingency fee agreement for your case. Be sure they are clearly spelled out in your agreement.
It’s sometimes advantageous to settle out of court because this can keep the fees down as much as possible and put more settlement money in your pocket. However, fees will go up when a lawsuit is filed because of the additional time and effort a personal injury lawsuit entails. Several factors can influence how much fees may go up:
A knowledgeable and competent attorney will do their best to prepare a case for trial, even if the case settles sometime during the process.
An accident attorney’s fee arrangement is known as a “contingency fee.” Such a fee (the terms including fees and costs) must be laid out in writing. Attorney contingency fees aren’t set in stone. If you’ve already done a lot of the legwork for your injury claim, you can try to negotiate the fees for your case during your initial consultation.
Contingency fees make it possible for a person to afford an attorney for a personal injury case. Fees can vary from case to case and depending on what exactly a case entails. You don’t have to pay until the case is over, and a settlement or judgment is reached. And the good news is, if no settlement is reached or the court doesn’t find in your favor, you generally don’t pay any legal expenses.
Many people understand a contingency fee to be about 33% of a total settlement or judgment. However, more goes into the general equation “an attorney gets a third, and you get the other two thirds.” The attorney takes his fee out of a settlement, but there are other expenses like court and administrative costs and medical liens (outstanding medical bills) to be paid before you get your share of the settlement or judgment monies. An attorney is legally obligated to explain how their fees are structured, but it is your responsibility to review and understand any contingency fee agreements.
The biggest advantage of contingency fee cases is that you don’t have to pay until the case is over, and a settlement or judgment is reached. And the good news is, if no settlement is reached or the court doesn’t find in your favor, you won’t pay any legal fees. The downside of that is that it does not mean that you won’t have other fees or costs to pay.
Before you sign on the dotted line, there are other things to consider and negotiate. Contingency fees are what you may think of when looking for a personal injury attorney, but other fees to consider include:
We go into them more in depth in the following sections.
Conditional fees are up front and transparent fees charged by an attorney. Everything is spelled out and put forth in the very beginning. With a conditional fee agreement, an attorney will have an insurance policy for the case before it begins. The policy covers fees and costs commonly associated with a personal injury case (court & filing fees, medical and other related expenses). If the case is not successful, you wouldn’t have to pay a contingency fee for your attorney’s services.
A retainer fee is the amount a person pays to “reserve” services of an attorney. Retainer fees can also be used to pay up front for other professional services like consultants or experts for a case. Such fees don’t normally encompass the total cost of a case but more so the initial expenses of a case.
Some lawyers charge hourly fees, which can range from $100 to $350 or more per hour. Hourly fees depend on the attorney’s specialty, experience, and amount of work a case entails. It is also common practice to charge different rates for different services. For example, a lesser hourly rate may be charged for work done on a case by a paralegal or legal secretary versus work done by an attorney.
When it comes to negotiating fees for your case, it’s a good idea to be proactive and take the initiative. The best time to bring up and talk about what fees will be charged is during the initial consultation. You can successfully barter attorney fees for personal injury cases, if you come to the table organized and prepared with a good reason for a fee reduction. Our team of attorneys will be willing to work with you on your case for a successful conclusion. Chat with one of our qualified attorneys online at our website for Moshes Law Firm.
There are a couple of main reasons why you should negotiate a lower personal injury lawyer fee:
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand any breakdown of settlements and how personal injury lawyer fees figure into the equation.
Do not assume the typical attorney fees for personal injury are set in stone. Always ask an attorney if they’re open to negotiating their fees. They may surprise you and agree to a fee reduction. However small a fee reduction, it means more money in your bank once a settlement or verdict is reached.
Also, leverage what work you already did on a case in your effort to negotiate a lower fee. Show the attorney any documents, photos, medical reports, etc. that you gathered. This lets the attorney have a more complete picture of the case, and lets the attorney know that you’re on top of the case and understand the situation.
And have several attorneys on your list to talk to. If one won’t agree to a fee reduction or at least be willing to discuss fees, move onto the next attorney.
Up to this point we discussed personal injury lawyer fees. There are other expenses to consider. Fees are what an attorney is paid for his work on a case. Costs are expenses during the course of a legal case. These include common tasks like obtaining copies of records, filing legal pleadings, court reporter and expert witness expenses. Costs may be handled in one of a couple of ways:
Keep in mind you may still be liable for some costs if your case isn’t settled, or you don’t win at trial.
Assuming a case goes to trial and you are awarded damages, it’s a given the losing side almost always will appeal. For those cases, you can count on looking at higher fees and additional costs. The purpose of an appeal is to argue to a higher court that the lower court(s) made an incorrect decision and application of relevant laws. Appellate level attorney fees may differ vastly from the initial court level, as well as how the case is handled. Appeals involve finding legal holes and technicalities in previous legal arguments of a case, so these often involve a log of legal research and writing. The more legal arguments raised in an appeal, the longer and more involved a case can become.
As mentioned previously, you may not face any up front expenses depending on how your fee agreement is laid out. Typically, an attorney’s contingency fee (anywhere from 33-40%) is deducted from the gross amount of the settlement or jury award. Then costs are deducted as needed from the remaining amount. The money leftover after fees and costs are subtracted is money in your pocket.
Even if you don’t come away with the entire settlement, your chances of garnering a greater settlement or jury award are greater with a personal injury attorney on your team than by yourself.
Our qualified team of personal injury attorneys at the Law firm of Yuriy Moshes are here to help you, just fill out the form to consult with us for free.