Hiring a personal injury lawyer is the best course of action if you are injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence. A personal injury lawyer can help you seek fair compensation for your injuries and accident-related expenses.
Before obtaining legal counsel, you may wonder how much these services cost. Explore the costs of hiring a personal injury attorney and what your lawyer fees cover during your case.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Most personal injury lawyers work under a contingency fee arrangement. Your lawyer agrees to represent your case without upfront payment in this type of arrangement. Instead, you and your lawyer agree upon a fee percentage that you pay if you win.
Generally, a contingency fee is between 33% to 40% of your recovery amount and is paid out of your final settlement or awarded damages. In California, there is a proposed initiative from The Civil Justice Association of California to cap contingency fees at 20% of the recovery amount in personal injury cases to prevent attorneys from taking advantage of clients. However, currently, no such cap exists.
The benefit of a contingency fee arrangement is that it allows you to obtain experienced legal representation for your case, no matter what financial situation you are facing at the time of your accident. Additionally, a contingency fee agreement means that you do not owe your attorney any money if you do not win compensation for your case.
What Do Contingency Fees Cover?
When you hire a lawyer on a contingency fee basis, you are still responsible for legal expenses associated with your case. Legal expenses can include time and labor, court filing fees, and the cost of gathering evidence to prove your case. If your case goes to trial, they can also include police reports, medical records, court reporters, and expert witness fees.
Rather than paying an hourly fee or a retainer for these services, you agree to pay a lump sum after your case settles.
Can You Negotiate Contingency Fees?
According to the National Bar Association, some personal injury attorneys may negotiate their contingency fee rates. For instance, cases that go to trial require a high level of investment on the part of your legal team.
In contrast, negotiations with a defendant’s insurance company require much less effort. You may negotiate a lower percentage rate for your case if your attorney believes it will not go to trial.
It is important to agree upon the details of your contingency fee arrangement before signing a contract with your attorney to avoid surprises after your case.
Additional Ways to Pay for Legal Services
If you are wary of signing a contingency fee agreement, you can ask your lawyer about alternative payment options. They may be open to an hourly fee arrangement, in which they bill you a per hour rate for the time spent on your case.
You can also ask if they have any type of flexible payment plans that you can use instead of paying a percentage of your settlement amount.
Seek Legal Counsel After a Personal Injury Accident
Seeking compensation after a personal injury accident is an important step in standing up for your rights and holding a negligent party responsible for their actions. Hiring a personal injury attorney helps you maximize your chances of winning fair compensation for your injuries.
Work with a personal injury attorney to develop a fee schedule that works for you and allows you to pursue compensation no matter your financial situation.