Personal Injury Law Firm
Following an accident, you might know that you want to retain a personal injury lawyer, but you might be concerned about how you will afford their fees; especially if you cannot work or pay your medical bills. In these types of cases you cannot ask the state for a public defender which means you have two options, apart from doing nothing at all: A.) represent yourself or B.) hire a personal injury lawyer.
Unless you have legal experience, option A is not recommended. Luckily nearly all personal injury lawyers work on contingency. If you have already spoken with a few lawyers, they may have told you that they will handle your case on contingency, but what does this actually mean? The following general information should help you to understand.
Why Contingency Fee Agreements
Contingency fee agreements are there to help the average person get top tier legal representation. The basic principle of contingency is that the lawyer will not be paid any upfront, or middle, fees. Rather, they will only receive payment when they recover a settlement or verdict for the client. Essentially, the lawyer’s fee is contingent on winning. Typically the split is similar to the following:
If the case is settled before going to court:
- ⅓ to the personal injury lawyer
- ⅔ to the plaintiff (i.e. client)
If the cases goes to court:
- 40% to the personal injury lawyer
- 60% to the plaintiff (i.e. client)
These rates are not the same for every lawyer, and you should be able to review their rates prior to signing an agreement. Regardless, the core principle of contingency is the same: no win, no fees. For this reason a smart personal injury lawyer will carefully screen a case and take on only those they are confident in winning.
How Costs of Building a Case Can Affect Contingency
The division of contingency fees may not always be so simple. This is primarily due to the cost associated with building the case and liens.
Costs related to the case may include pre and post filing costs such as:
- Police report
- Medical report
- Medical bills
- Filing fees
- Costs of services
- Investigator fees
- Expert witness fees
- Scene reconstructionist fees
- Deposition fees
- Arbitrator fees
- Mediation fees
All of these fees can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and not all of them will be necessary for your case. Due to their expense, most of these fees or services will be delayed until needed in court, or your case has been settled. How these costs are allocated will depend on your legal contract. You can ask your personal injury lawyer to elaborate.
Following your accident, you may incur a medical lien on your personal injury case. Usually emergency room visits and ambulance costs are automatic medical liens. This means they are guaranteed a payment as long as there is a settlement. Depending on the facility or lien, the amount may be reduced. However, this is a complex matter and greatly depends on the factors of the lien. It’s important to note that there are non-automatic liens that may be agreed to by the plaintiff and the client. These may be available to clients who have no way to pay for their medical care. Before you can receive your settlement or verdict, all liens must be cleared.
There is more to contingency fees than this basic information. To learn about this, and your legal options, call a personal injury lawyer Baltimore, MD relies on today.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Cohen & Cohen, PC for their insight into personal injury claims and contingency fees.