After an accident, hiring a personal injury lawyer is the best investment you can make.
With the right lawyer, you can ensure that you have the evidence you need to prove the defendant is responsible for your injuries, and you can maximize your compensation by offering compelling testimony of economic and non-economic losses.
However, many people are concerned about how much it costs to hire a personal injury lawyer. Below, we will discuss some of the different costs.
Most personal injury lawyers represent clients “on contingency.” This means that the client does not pay them by the hour. Instead, the only fee they will charge is a percentage of either your settlement or your jury award.
If you do not win your case, then you don’t owe the lawyer any fees. Contingency fees make it affordable for injured victims to obtain experienced legal help. These fees also create an incentive for lawyers to only take cases that have merit, otherwise they will do all of their work for no compensation if they lose.
The size of your lawyer’s personal injury attorney fee will usually depend on whether you settle the case before or after filing a lawsuit:
- If you settle before, then the lawyer will usually get a third of the settlement amount. For example, if you settle for $90,000, then the lawyer gets $30,000.
- If you settle after filing the lawsuit, the lawyer usually gets 40% of the amount. For example, if you settle for $100,000, then the lawyer gets $40,000 off the top. The percentage might be slightly higher or lower, depending on the attorney.
These percentages might seem high, but lawyers have an incentive to maximize your financial recovery, because doing so will increase the amount of money they receive.
Court Costs and other Expenses
Lawsuits are costly. Although you do not have to pay your lawyer a fee unless you win, you will need to pay for court costs and other expenses, such as:
- Filing fees
- Police reports
- Expert witness fees
- Medical records
- Court reporters
- Trial exhibits
- Postage and copying charges
Lawyers differ on how they will charge you for these court costs and expenses. Some lawyers might bill you for the costs as they are incurred. For example, the lawyer might send you a monthly bill and ask for payment within 30 days. By contrast, other lawyers might keep track of these expenses and then deduct the total from the amount you receive after winning your case.
The total amount of these expenses is difficult to estimate. Generally, costs will increase as the case drags on. If you need to attend a deposition, then you will probably have to pay for the court reporter who takes down the questions and answers.
If you prepare for trial, then you will need to pay for the creation of exhibits at that time. Often, court costs and fees deduct another 10-15% from your settlement award.
As an example: you might have a contingency fee agreement with a lawyer who will receive 40% if you settle after filing your lawsuit. Months go by as your lawyer engages in fact-finding and prepares for trial. If you settle on the verge of trial, you might receive $100,000, of which your lawyer will receive $40,000.
Court costs might be an additional $15,000, which the lawyer will deduct from your $60,000, giving you a total of $45,000 to take home.
If you are worried about the high costs of court fees and other expenses, talk to your personal injury lawyer ahead of time. They might have ideas about how to contain costs as much as possible.
Receive and Read Your Contingent Fee Agreement
According to Rule 1.5 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Responsibility, lawyers must put contingency fee agreements in writing as part of their retainer agreement. Read this agreement closely, since it also explains your own obligations, such as when you will pay the costs of the lawsuit.
Upon settlement, your lawyer will receive the check from the defendant or their insurer. The lawyer should provide you with a written statement of how much they withheld and why, along with a check that represents your portion.
Contact Us and Learn More about Personal Injury Attorney Fees
Personal injuries can seriously disrupt your life, and injured victims need compensation to cover sky-high medical bills and lost wages. If you have been injured in an accident, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today.
For over 30 years, the personal injury lawyers at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley have represented injured victims like you. To learn more about our personal injury attorney fees, please schedule your free consultation by calling 706-354-4000.