Lawyers usually take 33% or 1/3 of the final personal injury settlement amount for attorney fees. If the case goes to trial, lawyers can increase their settlement share up to 40% and charge more.
However, other factors affect the percentage your lawyer takes from the settlement. In this guide, let's explore other personal injury case expenses, including the following:
- How does a personal injury fee structure usually work?
- Why do personal injury lawyers prefer contingency fees?
- How long do personal injury cases take?
- How to keep the cost down for personal injury cases?
Let's get into it!
Legal Disclaimer: The information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for a professional and formal legal opinion. This article and its links do not establish an attorney-client relationship. The author's views also do not reflect the firm's or any attorney's
How Does a Personal Injury Fee Structure Usually Work?
It's essential to talk to your lawyer about legal fees. Personal injury fees vary depending on several factors, such as:
- Time spent on the case
- Experiences and reputation
- The difficulty of the case
- Trial expenses
- Overhead costs (utilities, office equipment, etc.)
For example, a car accident settlement would have a different fee structure than a slip-and-fall settlement. Before you decide who to hire, you should know how the various fees work.
Types of Fees
A personal injury lawyer usually uses one of three fee structures, depending on your case:
In this method, a lawyer manages their time and expenses by the hours they devote to the case. The hourly rate depends on the case's type, difficulty, and expertise.
However, hourly billing is under fire from clients and industry professionals. They argue that it causes a lot of stress for clients since they only know the total expenses of a case once it's over.
In a flat fee, personal injury lawyers tell you how much they charge for their legal services. This type of fee is the most transparent, as there won't be any surprises when you receive the bill.
However, a flat-rate structure only makes sense in predictable, repetitive cases like:
- Uncontested divorce cases
- Reviewing and drafting contracts
- Immigration applications
In a contingency fee deal, your money will include the lawyer's fee if you win the case. If you lose, you don't need to pay your lawyer for their work and expenses on your case.
Even though it is commission-based, many prefer to operate on a contingency fee for personal injury cases. Continue reading to know why!
Why Personal Injury Lawyers Prefer Contingency Fees?
Personal injury lawyers prefer contingency fees because they are more attractive to clients than other payment methods. After an accident, most personal injury clients have high medical and lost-wage expenses.
Contingency fees allow these clients to access legal services without breaking the bank. Here are other reasons why personal lawyers prefer contingency fees:
- A client knows the amount to expect for their legal services.
- A client will not react negatively if the lawyer loses the case.
- The lawyer gets paid easier and quicker.
- The lawyer attracts more clients.
How Long Do Personal Injury Cases Take?
After hiring counsel, most personal injury lawsuits take 6–18 months to settle. It depends on medical treatment and legal complexity. Some personal injury cases can last years!
You must also note the statute of limitation for filing physical injury charges. This period starts from the date of your accident. To be sure, check your state's statute of limitation on physical injuries.
If you're on a contingency fee, your lawyer will handle the case with almost zero financial participation from you. If not, you can cut your expenses in a personal injury case in many ways. More on that in a moment!
How To Keep Personal Injury Lawyer Costs Down?
An experienced and reputable personal injury lawyer is your best option to keep fees and costs down. Before anything else, what’s the difference between fees and costs in litigation?
Costs Involved in a Personal Injury Case
The fee is the amount you pay for your lawyer's legal services. It depends on the type of payment arrangement agreed upon. Costs, on the other hand, are non-lawyer expenses.
These costs can be administrative costs, such as:
- Other expenses
Remember to weigh the cost before hiring a lawyer for your physical injury claim. For instance, in a minor physical injury case, you can go to a small claims court and handle it yourself.
Cost-Saving Tips for Your Personal Injury Case
Personal injuries can also lead to medical bills, insurance claims, and missed work. Here's how to minimize these costs:
1. Organize your evidence. Evidence is crucial to winning lawsuits. It will reduce your costs if you gather your evidence before consulting a lawyer.
2. Hire an experienced lawyer. There are different kinds of lawyers. Seek someone who has settled and litigated personal injury cases. An experienced lawyer can lower costs and increase your chances of winning.
3. Request a litigation plan. Ask your legal counsel for the road map of your case, including:
- Strengths and weaknesses of the case
- Short- and long-term objectives
- Overall strategy
- Potential cost
4. Negotiate for a discount rate. Even the most simple lawsuits cost money. Set your pride aside and ask your lawyer if they can give you a discount on their fees.
5. Always ask for a status report. While experienced lawyers can handle your case, this is your personal injury claim. You should remain engaged and updated on the legal process.
The Bottom Line
The 1/3 share lawyers take from a settlement may seem expensive. However, they work hard to protect your rights and secure the best settlement.
Regardless of their reasons for taking your case, most lawyers are willing to handle cases without an initial payment. It justifies their percentage of personal injury cases.