Personal injury attorneys will charge different rates based on different factors, such as the type of fee arrangement, including contingency fees (where payment is based on percentage of recovery); and then you have to consider the filing fees in addition to attorney’s fees.
Attorney’s Fee Arrangements
Very rarely will an accident attorney charge a flat fee for any case. This can happen, though, where the lawyer decides on a particular rate for the case, without considering whether or not the case succeeds. This can be paid in installments or with a half up front arrangement, with the remaining half paid at the conclusion of the case. If you are charged a flat fee of $3,000, then that will be the rate, regardless of hours or case outcome.
Some attorneys will charge an hourly fee with a retainer deposit. You will pay an amount in retainer, which the attorney then draws from to pay his or her hourly rate for the work completed. An additional deposit may be requested as you run through the money in the retainer trust.
More often, you’ll find that personal injury attorneys offer a contingency fee arrangement. This means that you will not pay anything unless you recover compensation, and then you will pay only a percentage of your settlement or judgment. It is typically between 25% and 40%, with the most common contingency fee arrangement being 33%. Thus, if you recover $30,000, your attorney will receive $10,000. If the case goes to trial, then the percentage may increase to up to 40%.
Even though these percentages may seem excessive, you will find that the contingency fee arrangement is the best option because you will not have to pay anything if you don’t win the case. The attorney takes a chance with a contingent fee case, justifying the cost.
Personal injury cases involve a lot of different associated costs, such as court filing fees, service of complaints, service of summons, service of subpoenas, obtaining medical and police records, expert witness fees, court reporter fees, etc. As these different fees come up, the attorney may draw from a retainer deposit that you have paid or they made pay the costs up front and recover their expenses from the final award. If the lawyer does the latter, then you will not be responsible for the associated costs if you do not succeed in your case.
The Insurance Research Council has reported that those who seek legal representation in personal injury cases will receive an average of three and a half times more in their settlement than what those without an attorney are likely to receive. It is always wise to seek out the help of a lawyer.