How Much a Personal Injury Lawyer Costs
One of the first things that come to mind when deciding whether to hire a personal injury lawyer is cost. As in most fields of law, a personal injury lawyer usually charges a contingency fee – this means that a certain percentage of the settlement they recover for you will serve as their basic fee.
This also means that you can hire a personal injury lawyer without having to pay anything up front – as the expenses will come out of the settlement amount. A personal injury lawyer that takes your case in this setup will render his or her services to you without any type of remuneration until the case is resolved. If the lawyer is successful in obtaining a settlement, then he or she receives the contingency fee as agreed upon in your contract. Otherwise, the lawyer does not get paid for the work rendered. This is a risk that personal injury lawyers take, on the basis that they have reviewed your case and are confident that it can be won.
On top of the contingency fee, a personal injury lawyer will also charge a client for expenses incurred throughout the proceedings of the case. Such expenses may include amounts payed towards research and filing for your case, phone and other communication bills, and so on. Make sure you discuss all costs involved with your potential lawyer, so you can gain a clear understanding of what you should be paying for. As stated above, these charges are typically deducted from the settlement awarded.
The most common contingency fee applied by personal injury lawyers is 33.33%, or one-third of the total settlement amount. This percentage is deemed as fair by most states, but may be higher or lower depending on the law firm and the experience of the personal injury lawyer. You might expect a higher contingency fee when hiring a lawyer from a well established firm, and a possibly lower fee when hiring a solo lawyer with smaller resources and limited experience.
One thing to note when reviewing your contract with the lawyer, is whether case expenses are deducted from the settlement before the contingency fee is computed, or after. This can make a significant difference in the final amount you will receive. For example: if your lawyer wins a settlement of $300,000 with total expenses amounting to $50,000, then the contingency fee will be $100,000 if expenses are not deducted first – leaving you with $150,000 after case expenses are paid for. On the other hand, if expenses have been deducted before the contingency fee is computed, your lawyer will only receive $83333.33 as contingency fee – leaving you with $166666.66. Remember to ask your lawyer about this before you sign a contract.
Some law firms provide an option for an hourly rate as opposed to a fixed contingency fee. In this set up, a client pays the lawyer a fixed amount per hour rendered on the case, plus all expenses, no matter the outcome of the case. While this is considered normal and can be beneficial to the client if the case is settled quickly with a high compensation – be wary of lawyers that offer to take your case under this set up as it can be an indication that they are not confident that they can win.