Suffering a personal injury because of the negligence of someone else is a life-altering event in many situations. One of your primary tasks following an accident is making certain you receive necessary compensation. Achieving this objective necessitates retaining the services of an experienced, tenacious personal injury attorney.
If you are like most people, you are not certain what a personal injury attorney charges in the way of keys for handing a case. Before you enter into an agreement with a lawyer, you have the absolute right to fully understand what is to be paid in the way of fees and reasonable costs associated with the case.
Contingency Fee Overview
In the vast majority of cases, a personal injury attorney charges what is known as a contingency fee to represent a client. In basic terms, in a contingency arrangement, you pay no legal fee unless and until the attorney obtains a favorable settlement or judgment on your behalf.
Establishing the Contingency Fee
At the time you enter into a contract with an attorney to represent you in a personal injury case, you will also agree on the amount of the contingency fee, the dollar amount to be paid if you are successful in your case. The fee usually is a percentage of the amount of a settlement or a judgment in a lawsuit.
Scaled Contingency Fee
A common practice is to establish a sliding scale when it comes to a contingency fee in a personal injury case. By this it is meant that if the case is settled before trial, an attorney may agree to a lower percentage of the settlement amount as the fee for services. If the case proceeds to trial, the percentage may increase somewhat.
In some cases, an appeal is lodged after a judgment in a trial. This represents another milestone in which there may be a slight bump in the percentage assessed for the attorney fee in a particular personal injury case. The rationale is that the fee needs to be increased somewhat because the lawyer is doing even more work on behalf of a client in a case that is appealed.
Oftentimes, an attorney of law firm is called upon to front certain costs associated with pursuing a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit on behalf of a client. Examples of these costs include taking depositions of witnesses, engaging an expert witness, and similar necessary expenditures.
A contingency fee agreement will include a provision permitting the attorney to be reimbursed for reasonable costs necessarily spent in pursuit of a settlement of judgment in your favor.
The general practice of an attorney is to advise you of any more significant necessary expenditure in your case before it occurs. This permits you the ability to be aware of the costs that are being incurred in the pursuit of compensation for your injuries.
Other Types of Fee Arrangements
Most personal injury cases involve a contingency fee between attorney and client. However, technically there are two other possible fee arrangements utilized be attorneys more generally.
An hourly fee is rarely used in a personal injury case. An hourly fee is fairly self-explanatory. An attorney charges a client a set hourly rate for time spent on a case. This fee arrangement is more commonly seen in divorce and business cases.
The second alternative fee arrangement is what is called a flat fee. In this scenario, an attorney establishes a set dollar amount for representation. A flat is used once in a while in a personal injury case when the overall dollar amount of a claim is not expected to be very large and the claim itself is not particularly complicated.
As an aside, a retainer usually is charged in the event an attorney uses an hourly fee arrangement. A retainer is something of a down payment on the costs of legal services expected to be provided in regard to a specific case. In the case of a flat fee, an attorney may require payment of the full amount, or a portion of it, in advance of representation.
One of the topics of discussion at an initial consultation with a personal injury attorney will be the fee arrangement. A lawyer typically charges no fee for an initial consultation in a personal injury case.
The Lamber Goodnow legal team and their Chicago partner personal injury firms are well-versed in these matters. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers never charge a fee, unless we win your case. Get a risk free consultation today.