Accident victims might hesitate to call personal injury lawyers because of the legal fees. They believe that attorneys will take most of their settlement, or they will have to pay out-of-pocket costs for representation. That is not the reality because nearly all personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.
Remember that costs and fees have different definitions for legal purposes. Fees are what your attorney will charge you for their representation, while costs are additional expenses of the legal process. There are many intricacies to filing a personal injury claim, and costs will pile up, but you will not have to pay these costs upfront.
Court costs are a prime example. Neither you nor the attorney can get out of these expenses since they are vital parts of the process. However, your injury lawyer will not require you to pay these costs during your case. Instead, the law firm will cover these costs upfront until your case resolves.
Do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer where you can discuss the fee structure and any other concerns you have regarding your injury claim.
Will a lawyer charge for a consultation?
Personal injury lawyers across the country offer free consultations. There are a few reasons why.
Since personal injury cases work on a contingency fee, the attorney will not recover any money unless they win. A free consultation allows a lawyer to look at the facts of the case and determine whether the matter is one they feel confident taking.
A free consultation also allows victims to meet with a few different lawyers until they find one they feel comfortable with. When a person pays for a consultation, they are more prone to sign with the law firm even when they are not compatible. They do not want to continue to dish out money for consultations and delay the beginning of their claim.
A free consultation works for both parties. If you and the personal injury lawyer are comfortable and confident working together, you can review the contract and sign up for the law firm.
How does a contingency fee work?
The premise of the contingency fee is that the client doesn’t pay anything upfront. They will sign up for representation, and the attorney will handle the entire process and costs until the case settles. Once there is a successful agreement, your personal injury lawyer will deduct their fees and any costs they incur. You will not worry about paying fees unless there is a successful resolution, and if there is no settlement, you will not pay fees.
A contingency fee ensures that accident victims do not absorb any costs. The lawyer is taking a risk when they take a case and will work harder to get a financial recovery; otherwise, they will receive nothing. A contingency fee works for both parties personal injury lawyers in your area will focus on cases they believe they can win. You can focus on your medical recovery instead of the costs.
Will there be any out-of-pocket costs?
Yes, you can suffer some out-of-pocket expenses after an accident. They will not be a direct result of filing a claim but will be items like prescription medications, rental car costs, and more. While you will need to pay for these costs, your lawyer will add them to your claim, and you can obtain reimbursement through the settlement process. There will not be upfront costs for your legal expenses, however.
When does the personal injury lawyer receive payment?
When a case results in a financial settlement, the law firm will receive the money from the other party. They will then begin to break it down and pay the piper. The contract you sign with your lawyer will state when they get their payment. Most firms will have a provision in the agreement that states they will take their payment from the settlement first before paying any other parties. It is uncommon to see a contract that says the attorney will get their fee after they pay your medical bills.
Once the attorney takes their payment from the settlement, the attorney will pay your medical providers. Some providers will negotiate and lower the amount you owe but prepare to pay the full fee. After the attorney pays the medical and legal costs, you will receive a check for the remaining settlement amount.
Are costs different for pre-litigation and litigation?
Fees will range depending on where you live and the kind of claim you will file. Lawyers will take a predetermined percentage, and the rates vary by firm and case complexity.
When a personal injury lawyer needs to file a lawsuit, the fee likely goes up. When there is a lawsuit, but it settles before trial, some lawyers will have a different fee structure. Most personal injury claims settle before litigation, so it is unlikely you will need to worry about the additional fee but stay aware. Always review all fees and possible costs before signing with a law firm. Even if you do not believe your claim will require a lawsuit, you should prepare for the possibility.
What do costs include?
Attorney fees differ from court costs, but it is essential to understand both.
Personal injury claim costs include:
- Court expenses: Filing fees, a daily stipend for jurors, legal transcripts, and serving a summons. These fees will vary, but a filing fee alone will be between $100 and $400. An all-day court session will typically cost $400; when ordering a transcript, there will be a cost for each page between $2 and $4. These costs can pile up, and you cannot expect to pay them yourself.
- Costs for conducting depositions: When the case is in litigation, both attorneys will request to conduct depositions in which attorneys take sworn statements for the case. Both attorneys will be present, along with a stenographer who will record everything. The party that submits a request for the deposition will incur all of the costs along with the transcript.
- Expert witness fees: Depending on your claim, you may need to hire several expert witnesses to validate your claim. An expert witness will have set prices to review your case, prepare a report, and testify in court. Uncomplicated cases will result in thousands of dollars for expert witness costs, and complex issues can go into the tens of thousands. You will require at least one expert witness when your claim is in litigation.
- Investigation costs: This is tricky because investigations will vary by the case. Some accidents will require more investigation than others. The costs will include gathering police reports, medical records, and more. If there is the need to hire a private investigator, that will also fall into this category.
- Other administrative expenses: The law firm will conduct a lot of administrative work. Administrative services will include expenses like travel, postage, trial exhibits, and making copies. The expenses may not amount to much for simple cases, but more extensive cases can reach the thousands.
Additional costs include copies of bills and medical records, criminal background checks, past claims history, and certified mail. You can incur many other costs, but those are a few examples.
Do not fret because these costs will not come from your wallet but from your settlement. You will receive a breakdown of these costs from your lawyer at the end of the claim. These costs are unique because you may need to pay them whether the attorney wins or loses the case. Always understand your obligations to pay costs before you agree to representation.
Do more significant cases have higher costs?
The simple answer is yes. Most cases that result in a more significant settlement will have higher costs. However, your legal costs will vary depending on how much work and evidence collection your case needs. If your case is high-value but requires little investigation or the defendant automatically concedes to liability, the costs might remain low.
Cases requiring litigation will have additional costs like filing fees, fees for serving subpoenas, court reporter fees, and more. Filing a lawsuit is more expensive, so the costs often grow. However, litigation might result in a larger settlement that can easily cover these costs.
What compensation will you receive from your claim?
A personal injury lawsuit aims to get monetary compensation for your injuries and losses. Compensation will look different depending on the type of claim and the losses you suffer. While most personal injury claims will involve similar damages, a slip and fall accident can have different results than a motor vehicle collision.
Some common examples of damages include:
- Medical expense
- Ongoing medical care
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of pleasures of life
- Lost earning potential
- Lost income
The more losses you suffer, the more you will get for your claim. There are many factors to consider when determining your claim worth. The severity of your injuries, responsible parties, insurance policies, and other factors will determine how much you can get. Every claim will look different, and while you can estimate how much your claim is worth by looking at past results, there is no way of knowing without looking at all the facts. Even when there is an estimate, there is no telling how far the case will go and the outcome of negotiations.
The insurance company or defense lawyer will attempt to negotiate a lower settlement, and your lawyer will seek a higher settlement. Most claims will end up somewhere in the middle.
The final settlement offer is not what you take home
When personal injury victims receive a settlement offer, they might not know how much they will take home after the costs and fee structures.
Instead, you will take home what is left over after everyone takes their fees. Some claimants think this is unfair, but you must consider the lawyer’s investment in your claim.
They have covered those medical costs and legal fees. You haven’t seen a bill or had to pay anything up to this point. Your medical providers must get paid for the services they provide to help you during recovery, and your lawyer must recover the fees for all the work they have done to protect your rights. You must know how the settlement process will work and that you get a breakdown of the expenses. Most claimants feel better when they see a full breakdown of what they will pay for.
Call a personal injury lawyer for more information today
After an accident, get medical attention and contact a local personal injury lawyer. Victims need legal representation to get them through the contentious and complex legal system.
Before you sign up with a law firm, you should ask about the fees and costs and ensure you are comfortable. Costs of filing your claim are non-negotiable because the attorney does not determine those prices. However, there might be an opportunity to negotiate fees. In the end, you will need to make the final decision on whether to move forward with the local personal injury attorney or not.
Always be confident in your decision and consider your options carefully. If you change your mind about your attorney later, switching costs will increase. Getting a new attorney can mean that you get less in your settlement.
Familiarize yourself with the fees, get a lawyer who makes you comfortable, and understand what you will pay for when you get your settlement. Do not make the mistake of handling a case alone because you can lose out on money that you will need for your ongoing medical care and costs.
Even with legal fees and costs, you will likely take home much more than if you didn’t have legal help. Call a personal injury lawyer near you today.