How much does a personal injury lawyer cost, anyway? Is there a set fee? Or does it change depending on your circumstances?
If you’re allowing your anxieties over the bill to outweigh your need for a lawyer, don’t. Lawyers offer different options for payment. If you’re ready to discover for yourself whether you can afford the cost of legal assistance, read on.
How Personal Injury Lawyer Fees are Calculated
Lawyers usually keep tally in one of two ways. The first is called a contingency fee. The second is known as hourly fees or hourly billing rates.
Your personal injury lawyer fees will come as either contingency fees or hourly fees, but rarely both.
Most personal injury attorney prices come in the form of contingency fees. In essence, the lawyer only charges you if she negotiates a monetary settlement, or wins a judgment, on your behalf. In other words, she doesn’t get paid unless you do.
Your personal injury attorney will have you sign a contingency fee agreement when she takes your case. The agreement outlines the percentage of your settlement that will belong to your lawyer should she win your case. The more work your case requires, the higher the percentage your lawyer will want.
The most appealing facet of this accounting method is that it costs you nothing if you lose. That’s especially appealing if you’re broke. It’s also a great motivation for your attorney to work hard, so you can both win and get paid.
The disadvantage is you might not feel your attorney has earned 15% to 50% of your settlement. That’s especially true if the settlement comes in the form of millions of dollars.
Hourly fees are less common but straightforward. If your lawyer uses this accounting method, she charges a single rate for each hour worked. Then she counts the total number of hours and sends you a bill.
Sometimes you may receive those bills way before your court date. Most lawyers who choose this method bill their clients monthly. Worse yet, your lawyer may bill you for more hours than you expected.
If you recently suffered a severe injury, your medical bills may be piling up. If so, you may not have the cash on hand to pay for such fees upfront.
Other Factors that Come into Play
You may be paying for more than your lawyer. Did you know that 10% to 15% of your settlement award will likely go to your court costs? If your case requires an oral or written deposition, your case has already accrued additional fees.
Here are a few questions to ask during your consultation:
- What does your attorney think you may receive in damages?
- What percentage of that settlement would go to your attorney’s legal fees?
- What percentage would go to your attorney’s legal expenses?
- How much would remain for you?
If you’re still uncertain whether you need a lawyer, this informational article and others like it will give you the information you need to make an informed decision. The rule of thumb says that if your case is tricky or you’ve suffered a severe injury, plan to hire a lawyer.
Now that you have a better idea of how much a personal injury lawyer will cost you, what have you decided? Remember, if the cost is a big factor in your choice, contingency fees won’t cost you anything. That is, of course, unless you win a settlement.
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