When you sustain injuries in an accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. However, filing an injury claim could be a complicated, time-consuming, and expensive process. In addition, fighting an insurance company for the money you deserve can leave you emotionally overwhelmed and financially strained.
Hiring a personal injury attorney to handle your claim may be the best way for you to protect your right to fair compensation. However, you may be hesitant to hire a lawyer because you fear you cannot afford to pay the attorneys’ fees.
Before you discount the idea of hiring a personal injury lawyer, let’s take a closer look at how much a personal injury attorney costs.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Attorneys set their rates for services based on many different factors.
Some of the common factors that impact how much an injury lawyer charges:
- The type of cases the attorney handles
- The experience and skills the attorney possesses
- An attorney’s success rate for settlements and jury trials
- The lawyer’s education and special certifications
- Whether a case is settled out of court or goes to trial
- The geographical location of the attorney’s office
- The attorney’s level of trial experience
- The resources the law firm
- The lawyer’s reputation in the legal community and among past clients
Attorneys may charge a flat rate or an hourly rate for their services. They often require a retainer fee when a client hires an attorney. The retainer fee remains in a trust account for the attorney to bill against as they perform services.
However, most personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis. For a client, it means you do not pay any upfront attorney fees to hire a personal injury lawyer.
What is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee is a form of payment for legal services. Instead of paying upfront attorneys’ fees, the attorney is paid when they recover money for the client. If the attorney fails to recover compensation for the client, the client does not owe any money for attorneys’ fees.
The fee is based on a percentage of the amount of money recovered in the case. For example, if the contingency fee is 30 percent and the attorney recovers $500,000 for the client’s case, the attorney fee would be $150,000.
That amount may sound high. However, you need to consider that most individuals receive higher settlement figures and jury verdicts when they hire experienced personal injury lawyers to handle their cases.
Insurance companies take advantage of a person’s lack of knowledge about laws related to injury claims, the types of damages available, and the value of damages. The company offers a very low amount to settle a claim and tells the person it is a fair offer. If a person needs money after an injury or accident, they may accept the claim without knowing they are being treated unfairly by the insurance company.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Attorney Charge for a Contingency Fee?
Lawyers have the freedom to set the amount they charge to represent a client in a personal injury case. Every State has different rules and laws for how attorneys can structure fees on a contingency basis.
For example, California law might not be exactly the same as the contingency fees regulations in Florida. However, contingent fees must be reasonable. Fee contracts containing excess attorneys’ fees may not be enforceable.
Contingency fees, other than medical liability claims, cannot exceed a specific amount without court approval.
For instance, the fee for a case that settles before the other party files an answer to a lawsuit or a demand for appointment of arbitrators is:
- 33 1/3 percent of the recovery up to $1 million
- 30 percent of the recovery between $1 million and $2 million
- 30 percent of any recovery exceeding $2 million
The maximum contingency fee may increase if the case proceeds further.
It is essential to know that an attorney does not need to charge the maximum fee. Instead, the attorney could charge a lower percentage.
Therefore, accident victims may want to meet with several attorneys to compare their qualifications and contingency fee rates before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Payment of the Costs of the Case
In addition to attorney fees, an attorney may require the client to reimburse the attorney for the costs of the case.
The costs of a personal injury case may include:
- Fees for depositions
- The costs of investigations
- Copy fees and postage
- Travel expenses
- Expenses for medical experts and other expert witnesses
- Court filing fees and costs
- The costs of preparing for trial
The costs of the case are generally deducted from the settlement proceeds. In other words, you reimburse the attorney for these costs out of the money the attorney recovers for your injury claim.
It is important to discuss the payment of costs with the attorney before hiring him. Specifically, ask the attorney if you are responsible for paying these fees if the attorney fails to recover money for your claim. Also, ask the attorney if you must pay for the costs as they are incurred or at the end of the case.
Retaining a Personal Injury Lawyer to Represent You
Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. Therefore, if you are unsure whether you need an attorney, you can take advantage of a free consultation to obtain more information.
Regardless of whether you hire a lawyer, it is generally in your best interest to seek legal advice before making decisions about your personal injury case.