How do personal injury lawyers charge?
Most personal injury lawyers will charge you a percentage of the recovery as the attorney’s fee. This is sometimes referred to as a contingency fee contract. You will want to read the details since contracts do vary from firm to firm. Generally, there is no fee charged for the time of the lawyer until there is a money recovery. The fee is charged when the funds come in whether that is by way of settlement, award, or jury verdict. The contingent fee contract applies just to personal injury claims. The amount of the personal injury fee is calculated by taking the recovery times the amount of the recovery. For example, if your recovery $3,000 the fee would be $1,000. This assumes that the contingency fee percentage is one third. It also assumes there are no deductions for costs.
Usually, there will be deductions for costs. Most law firms consider advancing the litigation costs. You can also pay the costs as you go or pay a retaining in advance. Our firm usually pays the routine expenses.
The firm will deduct the expenses off the top of the recovery. We subtract expenses before the calculation of the fee. So, going back to our illustration. If the recovery was $3,100, assume we had $100 of expenses. The expenses would be deducted first. After the subtraction then the fee would be $1,000. Again this is true if the percentage in the contract were 1/3. ($3,100-100= $3,000 x 1/3= $1,000).
Types of costs
The costs in the case include copies of the medical records. Other expenses of a personal injury case may include investigators fees, police reports, and expert fees. You will generally know the costs are being incurred in advance. We send you copies of our letters. In this way, you know when we are ordering records or other expenses. Also, at the settlement of the case, we have a complete and itemized list of the expenses for you. We try to avoid surprises.
The amount of the percentage in personal injury cases is often 1/3 if the case settles before a lawsuit. The fee will increase to 40% if there is a lawsuit or trial because there is more work involved in filing a lawsuit and having a trial. 90% of the cases settle without a trial. Some cases have a higher risk or are more complex. A complex case will justify a higher percentage. Other cases, like workers compensation claims, have a lower percentage. In workers compensation claim the fee is 25% since these are administrative claims.
These are general guidelines for your information. The actual contract governs the fee. You should discuss the details of the contract with the lawyer. We usually have that discussion during the first client conference. The first conference is free so we can help you evaluate the case without obligation