Let’s be honest, hiring lawyers can be expensive.
That’s why most victims of personal injury cases do not hire a lawyer to seek compensation because they do not have the funds to pay legal fees. However, in settlement cases, lawyers typically take an amount from your settlement as payment---a contingency fee.
Read on to know more about how much US lawyers take from settlements.
How Much Do Lawyers Usually Take from Settlements?
Most lawyers working on settlement cases are compensated on a contingency fee basis. In this arrangement, you are only obligated to pay your lawyer if they win the case or obtain a financial settlement on your behalf.
The typical contingency fee may vary depending on the state where you file for settlement, but typically the percentage which lawyers take is between 30 to 40 percent. That means if you are awarded $10,000 in damage, the attorney will get between $3,300 to $4,000.
Like many other things across the country, the percentages of attorney fees can vary significantly from one state to the next.
In some states, contingency fee agreements can go as much as 75%. But there is a good reason for that.
When comparing, for example, a car accident settlement to a personal injury claim or a medical malpractice case, these percentages change depending on a few factors.
Other things that affect the percentage of attorney fees are:
- Lawyers' expertise
- State laws
- Whether your case goes to trial
- Case complexity
There are a few situations where the representing lawyer consents to a free or pro bono case. Though, this only usually happens for high-profile or humanitarian instances in which the lawyer can gain a reputation for handling your case.
Can you Negotiate the Contingency Fee?
Fees are frequently avoided because they are hard to discuss. But if you want to negotiate the contingency fee with your lawyer, do not hesitate to ask. It's better to do it before the court settlement.
You can negotiate a lesser contingency fee if your case is solid and you have a good chance of recovering a sizable sum in damages. To arrange for a cheaper payment, you'll need to be persistent and put in a little extra effort. You might need a lawyer to accept your case for the price you want.
Some lawyers are also willing to work with you on fee negotiations. Some may offer you a variable contingency fee, such as the following:
1. A Contingency fee is based on time spent on the case.
Your lawyer may agree to reduce the contingency bill if the case settles before the trial or increase it if it goes to trial. Additional appeals can also increase the contingency bill.
2. A contingency fee is based on the amount of settlement.
Lawyers may offer based on the awarded settlement amount: 35% of the first $100,000, 20% on the next $100,000, and so on.
3. Contingency fee mixed with an hourly rate.
Mixing hourly fees with contingency fees is another form of arrangement a lawyer can offer. For example, the lawyer might charge you $200 an hour, but you only need to pay a lower rate, like $50, and pay when the lawyer wins your case. However, all these arrangements would depend on the agreement between the lawyer and the client.
How Do Attorneys Collect Payment?
You need to know that you will receive your check after the end of your settlement claim. The court sends your settlement check to your attorney. This way, you uphold your end of the bargain and pay your lawyer what is due to them. After deducting the fees, your lawyer will send the remaining amount to you.
How Long Can A Lawyer Keep A Check From A Settlement?
When a case is over, and a final settlement amount has been decided, the check is usually sent to the plaintiff's lawyer. The money will then be kept in a trust or escrow account until a bank clears it, which generally takes three to ten business days, depending on the amount of the settlement check.
But if the lawyer argues that the settlement should cover medical bills and liens, this could take longer. It would be best if you ask your lawyer how long it will take for your check to get to your bank account and why.
The Benefits of a Contingency Fee
One of the reasons why opting for a contingency fee is advantageous is because your lawyer's interests align with yours. If you don't get any settlement, they won't get anything either. They have every reason to work hard for a win.
However, this arrangement requires a small financial risk for you. But you don't have to pay your lawyer thousands of dollars if you don't win the case.
The amount your lawyer may take from your settlement may depend on the nature and requirements of your case. It will also depend on the arrangement that you agreed upon.
So, before hiring an attorney or a lawyer, ensure you and your lawyer discuss price agreements at your initial consultation and that you go through all your options.