How Do Lawyers Charge for Personal Injury Cases?
If you were seriously hurt through no fault of your own, you deserve quality legal counsel, regardless of your financial situation. Fortunately, most reputable personal injury lawyers feel the same way and therefore don’t charge a retainer for their legal services. Instead, they work for contingency fees.
In a contingency fee arrangement, a firm does not collect any attorney’s fees from a client unless they secure a payout on his or her behalf. That means if the case proves unsuccessful, the client doesn’t actually have to pay for attorney’s fees. If, on the other hand, the case yields a satisfactory settlement or verdict, the fee will be charged as a percentage of the total damages recovered.
How Much Is the Contingency Fee?
Unlike some states, California does not limit contingency fees to a certain percentage. Instead, firms may use their discretion to determine fair rates for their services. They are, however, prohibited from charging “unconscionable” fees.
Naturally, what’s deemed reasonable in one case might be considered unreasonable in another. If you bring your lawyer an especially complicated medical malpractice claim that takes more than a year to resolve and demands deposition from many kinds of experts, you might be charged 40 or even 50 percent of the resulting payout. If, on the other hand, you were struck by a drunk driver and proving liability ends up being fairly straightforward, your contingency fee might be closer to 25 percent.
Most contingency fees range from about 33 percent to 50 percent, although many firms won’t charge more than 40 percent. A trustworthy attorney who practices with integrity should be forthcoming about the firm’s fee structure from day one. Keep in mind, however, that the agreed upon fee will be based on settling.
Should your case proceed to trial, the contingency fee may increase. This is standard practice across the industry because guiding a case through court is considerably more demanding than negotiating for a settlement.
Are There Any Other Fees I Should Know About?
Contingency fee arrangements only cover attorney’s fees. Depending on the circumstances, you may incur additional expenses over the course of the proceedings. For example, there may be filing fees, court costs, and professional fees for expert witnesses.
Even if you do not win your case, you may still be responsible for these kinds of expenses. As long as you do win your case, though, they can come out of the final payout after you’ve paid the attorney’s fees.
Why Are Contingency Fees Advantageous?
Both the lawyer and client benefit from a contingency fee arrangement. The client doesn’t have to worry about paying for counsel upfront out of pocket, and the lawyer has a stake in the outcome of the case. The larger the payout that results, the more funds the firm will receive for all their hard work, giving the more incentive to provide the best representation possible.
Discuss Your Claim with a Personal Injury Lawyer in California
If you were hurt at the hands of another party and you intend to take legal action, contact Harris Personal Injury Lawyers. Call 1-800-GO-HARRIS or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in California.