How do Personal Injury Lawyers get Paid?
Most personal injury lawyers work on the basis of no win, no fee. This is also known as a contingent fee or conditional fee arrangement. The fee of the personal injury lawyer is usually a percentage of the compensation. This can be anywhere from ten percent to more than forty percent depending on the specifics of a case. The simplest cases that get settled out of court or are the easiest to prove have the smallest percentages. Complicated cases and especially those cases that may go to trial, possibly an appeal thereafter, will demand a much higher fee. Although the range seems vast, the average is usually thirty to thirty five percent.
Personal injury lawyers usually do not charge by the hour. There is no consultation fee or fixed fee. This is primarily because hourly charges can be steep and a fixed fee is not in the best interest of the injured person, who is in this case the plaintiff. An injured person has already suffered and paying legal fees without knowing for certain if there will be a fair compensation in the end will discourage most people from taking legal action against their employer, a business establishment, doctor, individual or the city, district or state. Some personal injury lawyers ask for a small advance that often gets adjusted in the eventual fee based on the contingency of winning the case.
Costs associated with a Personal Injury Claim / Lawsuit
The personal injury lawyer’s fee is only a part of the total legal costs. There are court costs including filing charges and deposition fees if the case goes to trial. The lawyer will have to arrange for fees charged by investigators. Expert witnesses may have to be roped in, all of whom will charge a fee. There are costs incurred during research, to prepare the trial exhibits, copying and faxing, office expenses and postage, specific types of legal research, costs to obtain medical reports and police investigation reports as well as travel costs in some instances. All such costs will be included in the total that would be accounted for while paying the lawyer. Most lawyers will offer a breakdown of each of these costs.
Pros and Cons of Contingent Fee
Personal injury lawyers may have to spend a lot of time on a case if it drags on, from one trial to another appeal and possibly subsequent appeals. A standard fee may not be reasonable for such cases. Also, most people would not want to spend money when they have a valid claim. A contingent fee is the best possible solution. Injured people do not pay anything if they don’t win. They pay a part of their compensation if they win, which seems fair. In some instances, a contingent fee may seem to be too much to pay a lawyer, especially if there is temporary or permanent disability and the compensation is substantial. But such is the nature of a contingent fee. The lawyer doesn’t stand to gain anything if the case is settled in favor of the defendant.