Common Contingency Fee Facts for Personal Injury Cases
- April 21, 2015
- Personal Injury
When a victim of an injury is considering hiring an attorney, the cost is a common concern. Often, those who have been injured are dealing with expensive medical bills and may not be able to work for some time, so they may think that hiring a personal injury attorney is not an option. However, because of the way that most attorneys set up their contracts, it may be much more affordable than you may think.
Contingency Fees are Most Common
A Dallas personal injury lawyer will often take cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that the person injured will not have to pay the lawyer anything up front. In fact, they may not have to pay their attorney at all. In a contingency free contract, the attorney will only receive compensation when and if the victim wins their case. That means that an injured individual can still bring a claim even when they cannot afford it. Winning the case, then, would mean more money to pay for those medical bills as well.
The lawyer’s fee is deducted from the final verdict at trial or from the final settlement of the case in a contingency fee contract. They will also likely deduct any expenses related to bringing the case as well. For example, if your case requires that doctors come in and testify, the lawyer will usually pay for that cost up front, and then reimburse him or herself with the money awarded in the settlement. Of course, that also means that if the attorney loses the case, then they are just out any money that may have been invested in the case.
Contingency Fee as a Percentage of the Settlement
The contingency fee is usually a percentage of the total verdict or settlement. Often, this fee is about 33%, or 1/3 of the settlement. However, you can always try to negotiate a different fee percentage if you feel that the percentage is too high for your particular case.
If you settle the case before a lawsuit is ever filed, then the personal injury lawyer likely cannot claim their usual 1/3 of the settlement. Sometimes cases and be resolved with a simple letter or telephone call, so it makes sense that the lawyer should not be able to take 1/3 of the settlement when he or she only made a single phone call. They will still likely take something, but they are unlikely to be able to take their standard 1/3 of the settlement.
Once the case has been officially filed, however, an attorney can take a higher percentage in some situations. This amount is usually around 40%. In addition, the costs and expenses involved at trial are much higher as well. That means that the attorney will likely take more in addition to the 40% to cover these costs. Common costs include depositions, trial exhibits, filing fees, investigators, expert witnesses, postage, and obtaining police and medical records. Even if there is a settlement before trial, as the trial approaches, these costs will continue to increase.
Keeping these factors in mind is important if you are considering taking a settlement offer instead of going to trial. After fees and costs, the attorney could end up taking somewhere between 45% and 60% of the award in a full trial.