Personal Injury Lawyer Costs
How it Works
This is a very important question to be asking as many people are reluctant to file a personal injury case because they are worried about how much it will cost. What many do not understand is that a personal injury lawyer is not paid the same way that regular attorneys are – in fact, they are paid in a unique manner called a contingency fee.
Unlike family, real estate and business law firms, this means that they take a percentage of your winnings – if they can win the case or get a settlement of course. You do not have to pay them any money up front so you should be careful to choose a lawyer who can afford to fund your case, and who will take it seriously enough to win it.
The amount of contingency fees varies from state to state and in some states there are laws as to how much of your winnings they can take. However, the amount is usually between 25% and 40% of your final settlement. This means, for example, that if you recover $100,000 in your asbestos lawsuit, your lawyer can take between $25,000 and $40,000 depending on what you agreed on. You can always negotiate this fee to the smallest amount possible – as near 25% as possible. Good lawyers understand if you are not in the best of financial circumstances.
Costs Can Vary
The amount that you pay your lawyer can also vary based on whether the person you are suing hasn’t yet responded to your complaint in court. If a settlement is made before this happens your lawyer will ask for a lower fee. If, however, by the time a settlement is reached the defendant has responded the lawyer may ask for a higher fee.
The important thing is talk to your lawyer about the details of your contingency fee agreement and make sure that you understand them so that you don’t get short changed after your disaster. It also helps if you can talk to one or two other personal injury lawyers to see what their fee structure is like compared to what you have been offered by your lawyer.
There are additional fees that are involved, and you may or may not pay these as they become due depending on the lawyer that you choose. These include court filing fees, cost of serving summonses and subpoenas, costs of obtaining medical records and police reports, court reporter fees, and expert witness fees.
These can vary because every case is unique and comes with different costs. Many law firms are happy to pay these fees and then recover them once you have won your suit. There are others, however, that require their clients to pay.
It is up to you – if you don’t have the kind of money it takes it is best to work with a lawyer who can pay, but keep in mind that they will deduct the total amount along with the contingency fee. The final check will be sent to your lawyer so that he can recover all his fees, so it is important to work with one who is honest.
What if I Lose the Case?
In the event that you lose the case the lawyer will not receive any contingency fee at all, but you will still have to pay for the above mentioned expenses. It is important to point out that a personal injury attorney cannot charge you at all for their time – that is they risk that they take by engaging you as a client. The great thing about a contingency fee arrangement is that it helps personal injury lawyers stay motivated to win your case since they get nothing if they lose.