Hiring an attorney can be a scary and intimidating task, but it’s also one of the best decisions you can make if you have been injured. Many people try to avoid hiring an attorney at all costs because they don’t think they will be able to afford it. However, personal injury attorneys work differently. They are only compensated based on your case.
A large number of personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. This allows you to extensively research and meet with various law firms until you find the attorney you are most comfortable with. You want to hire the attorney who is going to best represent you and your case.
Take advantage of the fact that you can meet with as many attorneys as you’d like to – free of charge. Meeting with different attorneys allows you to find a personal injury attorney who has previous experience and a proven track record of handling cases similar to yours. This will also give you the chance to make sure they do care about you and aren’t there to see your case as an easy way to make money.
While most attorneys require a retainer to be paid before they start working, personal injury attorneys make their money by winning cases in court or settling compensation amounts outside of court. Only successful cases are paid.
How is this done?
- Plaintiff: Personal injury attorneys who represent plaintiffs, such as our firm, work with a contingency fee. This means your personal injury attorney will start working with you right away without requiring any upfront cost because their fee will come out of the final settlement cost.
Even if your case goes for weeks, months, or years, they will see your case through to the end without requiring a single fee. Once a settlement or verdict is paid on your claim, only then is the attorney fee taken from the settlement. Most attorneys charge 33.33% or 1/3 of the total settlement money awarded. If the case has to be filed with the court or goes to court because that is the only way to get a fair settlement, then the fee goes to 40% to accommodate for the extra trial work.
- Defendant: Those attorneys who represent the defendant in a personal injury case typically work off retainer or will charge by the hour. If using a retainer fee, a client will pay the attorney a lump sum payment which an attorney will then work against and withdraw funds as needed.
A defendant may also be charged on a per-hour basis, ranging from $150 to $300 or more, plus any additional expenses. If the defendant has liability insurance covering the accident, the attorney’s fees will be paid out through the insurance company’s policy. If there is no insurance coverage, the defendant will pay the attorney’s fees out of pocket.
In addition to contingency fees, what else can I be charged for?
The contingency fee you’ll pay is the cost an attorney charges for their time. Other expenses that you might be responsible for:
- travel costs,
- trial preparation,
- investigator fees,
- expert witnesses,
- copies of documents, postage,
- court fees, i.e., filing and deposition fees, and
- medical and police report fees.
The agreement made between you and your attorney should include a fee and expense agreement. A written agreement protects both you and your attorney from possible disagreement in the future.
How much money will I get?
The total compensation amount you will receive once your case has been settled will vary depending on the severity of your injuries, and the evidence and facts that show that your injuries had an impact on your quality of life, your ability to work, along with the total cost of your medical bills, expenses, and your attorney’s contingency fee.
Once the case has been settled, your attorney will receive a settlement check from the opposing party or their insurance company. Your attorney will contact you and provide in writing exactly how much will be deducted for their contingency fee. From the remaining amount, funds for all additional expenses incurred will be removed.
Your attorney may also withhold the funds needed to pay out all your medical expenses put on a lien or billed up to that point. Any additional medical expenses after that point will be your responsibility to pay. After everything has been paid for, your attorney will send you a check for the remainder of the settlement.
At Johnson | Livingston we are here for and with you through the process. We take our job personally and work hard to provide our clients with the best possible outcome to their personal injury cases. Each case can influence your life in real ways, and we are grateful for the opportunity to represent you and help you through your claim or a settlement.
Don’t let money keep you from asking questions about your case. Reach out to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to see if making a claim or taking legal action could be successful.