What are the attorney fees for handling a personal injury case?
In most personal injury lawsuits, your attorney will charge a contingency fee. This compensation system allows the injured person to hire a skilled attorney without having to pay upfront fees, as well as an hourly rate.
In a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney’s fees are deducted from your final settlement, or from the final verdict if the case goes to trial. Most personal injury attorneys also deduct expenses that the attorney paid for during the case. The percentage of a contingency fee is based upon in what stage the case was resolved.
Contingency Fee Percentages:
According to most state statutes, personal injury attorneys can charge a contingency fee between 33% and 40%. That said, you may try to negotiate a reduced fee. But in most cases, the personal injury lawyer will receive approximately 33.33% of your settlement. For instance, if you get an offer of a $30,000 settlement from the defendant’s insurance company, you will get $20,000 and your lawyer will get $10,000.
Settling Before Lawsuit Is Filed:
Most states have shifting fees based upon the stage of the case. Your attorney should issue a demand letter to the person that caused you injury. The letter will detail your injuries and make a demand for payment. If you have a strong case, the defendant will often make a counteroffer and further negotiations will follow. All of this occurs before you file the lawsuit. If you settle before the lawsuit was filed, it is likely that your attorney cannot receive more than 33%.
Settlement After Lawsuit Is Filed:
The defendant may not take negotiations for a settlement serious; they may fail to answer your demand letter entirely. At this point, if the case is strong, you will file suit. If the settlement happens after you file the lawsuit, your attorney may receive a higher contingency fee – usually 40%. If the case settles for $30,000 after you file suit, your attorney may receive $12,000. Also, before you decide to reject a settlement before the lawsuit is filed, consider the ongoing expenses of the lawsuit. As the weeks drag on, the case will get more expensive.
Costs and Expenses:
Most personal injury attorneys cover costs and fees to develop the case and then deduct them from your settlement. But there are lawyers who will charge you along the way for costs and expenses as they are due. Some of the common expenses in a personal injury case are:
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Expert witness fees
- Filing fees
- Trial exhibits
Note that costs and expenses can be substantial if the settlement does not happen close to trial. Your attorney’s final percentage with all fees, expenses, and costs could be high.
At the end of the case, the settlement checks to be sent to your attorney. He will contact you informing he has received the check. The attorney will explain that check will be deposited in his attorney trust account to clear. This might take up to 2-3 weeks. Once the check has cleared you will receive in writing the explanation of the case accounting and the instructions for you to pick up your check.
Please contact Herron Law at 503-699-6496 any time if you have any questions or comments. We are here for you, always.