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How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge?

A common question many people have after an accident is how much do personal injury lawyers charge. As a Richmond personal injury lawyer, Christina Pendleton & Associates works on a contingency fee basis.

This means we do not charge clients any legal fees upfront unless we obtain compensation for them through settlement or trial. This payment structure removes the financial worry of pursuing a claim after an injury.

Contingency agreements allow injury victims nationwide access to personal injury counsel when pursuing financial recovery from responsible parties. A skilled personal injury attorney can significantly increase the value of a claim through strong negotiation tactics.

How Contingency Fees Work

Most personal injury law firms utilize a contingency fee model for payment. This means that instead of charging clients hourly fees or a flat rate up-front, the attorney only collects payment as a portion of any monetary damages awarded through settlement or trial.

Contingency fees allow victims to pursue compensation without worrying about large legal bills.

If the case is resolved before filing a lawsuit, contingency fees usually range from 33-40% of the total recovery. If the matter goes to trial, the percentage often increases to 40%.

This higher rate accounts for the significant extra time and costs associated with full litigation. Some states have implemented caps on maximum contingency fees that can be charged.

Why Use Contingency Fees?

Contingency fees work well for personal injury plaintiffs because payment is only collected upon success. If the lawyer fails to win you any compensation, you will owe the lawyer nothing for their services.

This motivates attorneys to advocate for their clients zealously. They do not earn a living if they lose cases, and they will earn more if they help you win as much as you can. Since it is a percentage fee, this makes it fairer for clients.

Finally, contingency fees give clients access to legal representation they may not otherwise be able to afford. Anyone could get injured, but not everyone can pay a retainer fee or a per-hour fee. For these reasons, contingency is the most common way personal injury lawyers charge.

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How Do Lawyers Decide What Percentage to Charge for a Contingency Fee?

Many factors go into a personal injury lawyer’s fee percentage. One consideration is the expected complexity and risk involved in the particular case. More difficult matters that may be hard to prove or settle warrant a higher percentage if successful.

The stage of litigation also impacts the fee. Resolving a case during negotiations typically results in a lower percentage than if it proceeds through a lengthy trial. Lawyers must account for greater time commitments and financial risks associated with going to court.

Additional things examined include the jurisdiction’s standard rates, the client’s situation, the local cost of living, and comparable market prices. An attorney needs to charge fairly while still making a living off of their efforts.

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Could There Be Additional Fees?

Yes, but these will depend on your case and on the policies of the personal injury lawyer you hire. Ask any lawyer you consult with about fees beyond their contingency fee and when they need to be paid. These fees should also be spelled out in your contract with the lawyer.

Some fees you could face include:

  • Litigation expenses like filing fees, document fees, and getting deposition transcripts
  • Expert fees if your case needs expert testimony
  • Medical lien fees if a doctor puts a lien on your settlement funds to cover care
  • Appeal fees if you lose your case and decide to appeal
  • Subrogation fees in complicated cases involving multiple insurers or parties

In addition, you may be asked to go to a doctor to get additional medical testing to build your claim. These costs may be covered by your health insurance. Not every client will need to pay for these things.

Many lawyers will pay for these additional legal fees through their business and then charge you after you win your settlement, but not all of them. If you are unsure about this, ask your lawyer so you can feel comfortable about moving forward.

Before or After?

If you know you have a complicated case, you may wish to ask another question during your consultation. Lawyers could choose to charge their contingency fee based on the gross value of your claim, or based on the net value after all other fees are paid.

Knowing your lawyer’s policy before you hire them can keep you from getting a nasty surprise at the end of your personal injury case.

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Work With Your Lawyer

If you are worried about how much a personal injury lawyer might charge you, it’s best to speak with a lawyer about your concerns. Almost all personal injury lawyers offer free consultations where you can ask questions.

Some lawyers can offer payment plans, waive or reduce fees, advance certain costs, or use a sliding scale based on your income. They can also agree with you to limit which services they’ll provide. For example, they may help you settle a claim but not take your case to court.

Whatever your financial situation is, don’t let it keep you from getting a free consultation from a lawyer. Even if you end up not hiring a lawyer, what you learn from an initial consultation can still help you.

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