If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, hiring a personal injury attorney is a good choice.
A good personal injury attorney will make sure that you gather all the evidence you need. They will also help to prove that the other party is responsible for your injuries. Finally, they are skilled in making sure you get the maximum amount of compensation to make you whole again.
When you are injured and face exorbitant medical bills, it is not surprising to be concerned about how much it will cost to hire a personal injury attorney. In this article, we address those concerns and discuss some of the different costs associated with hiring a personal injury attorney.
By and large, personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. Simply put, this means that the client does not pay the attorney by the hour. Instead, the client pays a percentage of either the settlement amount or the jury award if the case goes to trial.
If for some reason your case is not successful, then you don’t owe the attorney any fees. Contingency fees make good legal representation affordable for injured victims — no matter their financial situation before the injury. Contingency fees also result in attorneys turning away cases that are not actionable. In other words, attorneys are more apt to take a case that has a better chance of winning, because they will not get paid if they do not recover compensation for their client.
Different attorneys and the laws of each state govern the percentage of the contingency fee. The fee may also affect the injured person’s decision about whether to settle a case before filing a lawsuit or taking the case to trial.
Typically, if a case settles prior to a lawsuit being filed, the attorney will get ⅓ of the settlement. For example, if you settle a case for $30,000, the attorney will get $10,000.
If, on the other hand, the attorney files a lawsuit on your behalf, the attorney may have a contingency fee that requires you to pay the attorney 40% of the total settlement. Take for example a case where a lawsuit is filed and a settlement is eventually reached for $100,000. The attorney will get $40,000 of this settlement. Some attorneys even use a sliding scale and base the percentage on the amount of money recovered.
At first glance, you may be shocked by these numbers. However, they can work to your advantage. An attorney is encouraged to maximize the amount of money you recover because doing so will also increase their fee. About 95% of cases settle prior to trial.
Court Costs and Other Expenses
Contingency fees do not cover all expenses that are associated with legal representation. The legal world is expensive. Even though a contingency fee arrangement means that you do not have to pay a fee unless you win, you will still be responsible for court costs and other expenses. These may include:
- Filing fees associated with filing a lawsuit
- Police reports
- Expert witness fees
- Medical records
- Court reporters
- Trial exhibits
- Postage and copying charges
Some attorneys bill for these expenses throughout their representation. Some attorneys keep a running tab of expenses and deduct them from the total settlement amount. It is important to discuss which method your attorney will use before engaging them in representation.
These costs vary from case to case and can be complicated to estimate in advance. Of course, the longer a case goes on without settlement, the more expenses your attorney will incur over time.
To illustrate, imagine that you are injured in an auto accident and you hire an attorney to represent you throughout the process. You sign a contingency agreement that provides the attorney will receive 40% of the settlement if you settle after filing a lawsuit.
Over a year later, the case is still pending. You have given a deposition and your attorney has prepared for trial because the other party has been unwilling to settle. Finally, you reach a settlement for $100,000. Your attorney will receive $40,000 of this settlement. The attorney also passes on the court costs and other expenses, totaling $12,000, which will be deducted from your $60,000, leaving you a total of $48,000 from your $100,000 settlement.
With over $20 billion spent on litigation in the United States in 2019, it is natural to be concerned about the costs of fees and expenses. If you are worried about the high costs of court fees and other expenses, talk to your personal injury lawyer ahead of time. They might have ideas about how to contain costs as much as possible.
Signing an Agreement
According to Rule 1.5 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys shall put contingency fee agreements in writing. Each client needs to read this agreement carefully and ask questions in advance because it will set out the method for how costs associated with the representation will be charged and paid.
When and if your case settles, your personal injury attorney will get a check. You will then receive a written itemization of costs and fees, called a settlement statement, along with a check that represents your portion.
Being injured is often unexpected and always unwanted. Disruptions to life and work on top of expenses are hard to handle. If you have been injured in an accident, you probably need a personal injury attorney. With decades of combined experience, McManus Law is here to help.
To learn more about our personal injury attorney fees, please schedule your free consultation by calling 770-645-8801.