When a client meets with a personal injury lawyer for the first time, the potential clients always have the same question: “How much will you charge me for handling my case?” Because each personal injury case is complex and has a variety of different circumstances, there’s no set answer to that question. The only thing we can tell you is how much we charge based on any settlements or awards you may receive. Allow us to further explain the basis for determining legal fees for personal injury cases.
Just about every personal injury lawyer accepts personal injury cases on a contingency-fee-basis. What this means is the attorney’s payment is contingent upon his client’s ability to receive a recovery sum. The fee is based upon a certain percentage of that sum, and the percentage is disclosed upon the retention of the attorney.
The percentage is generally based upon a number of different things, such as the complexity, riskiness, and nature of the case. As a client, you will work with your prospective attorney in order to agree upon the percentage before you sign any retainer agreements or contracts.
Most attorneys will front most of the cost of the case upfront. Some attorneys may ask for filing fees to be paid in advance, but generally, the attorney will front the cost of expert witnesses, copying fees, and the like. If the case is lost, the attorney does not seek reimbursement from his client. Generally speaking, attorneys won’t front the cost of the case unless he feels the case is a winnable case. If the attorney is successful in receiving compensation for his client, the costs expended are reimbursed to the attorney upon the collection of the attorney fees.
Less complex cases generally have a lower percentage fee, while more complex cases will have a higher percentage fee. Most attorneys will offer a no-obligation and no-fee consultation so that both the client and the attorney can have a better understanding of the case, the circumstances surrounding the case, and how much the attorney can expect to recover. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that there are never any guarantees, even if the case seems winnable, the court may see things differently.
Contingency Fee Defined
The attorney agrees to accept a fixed percentage of any compensation recovered when establishing a contingent fee arrangement with his client. If the client wins the case, the attorney’s fees come out of the monies awarded to the client. If the attorney loses, neither the client nor the attorney receives any money, and the client is not expected to pay his lawyer for the work done on the case.
The Type of Work Expended in a Personal Injury Case
There is a variety of work expended in a personal injury case. For example, the attorney will sit down with his client at the time of retention to obtain as much information as possible. If there were witnesses to the accident, the attorney will compile a list of said witnesses, as they may need to be subpoenaed later on.
Also, the attorney will want to review the scene of the accident and take any photographs that could help prove his client was not negligent. For example, if the client was injured in a motor vehicle accident, the attorney may want to photograph the scene of the accident to look for things such as unclear road markers, no obvious road signage, or defects in the road.
If the client’s injuries were obtained due to an uneven sidewalk on a city street, the attorney will take photographs of the area to prove the defect. The attorney will also talk to and perhaps retain expert witnesses who can back up any claims that the client has. Any witnesses will be interviewed in order to determine exactly how the accident happened and who really is to blame.
Many times, the attorney will work to settle the case in hopes of avoiding a long, and costly trial. This can work to your advantage, because once the case goes to trial, there’s no guarantee your attorney will be successful, no matter how much evidence he has to back up his client’s claim. If the attorney feels the settlement amount offered is a decent amount, he will bring that settlement offer to his client for final approval. If the client does not approve of the amount, the attorney does not settle.
For more information on attorney fees, consulting with an accident attorney, or questions surrounding what goes into a personal injury case, it’s best to speak with an experienced attorney. From the initial consultation to the evidence gathering right down to settlement or trial, your attorney will work to ensure your case is successful.