Is it true most personal injury attorneys don’t charge up front?
You may have seen commercials advertising personal injury attorneys who don’t charge for their services upfront and wondered if it was too good to be true.
In fact, most of the time in personal injury cases, attorneys offer their services based on a “contingency fee” basis. This term means that the lawyer’s fees for representing their clients will only be paid at the end of the case, and only if they receive a favorable outcome in their client’s case. The fees will be paid from a personal injury settlement or from the damages awarded from a favorable verdict. In the case that the client doesn’t receive a favorable outcome, the attorney doesn’t collect any fees.
Before you hire a personal injury attorney, here are some additional answers to questions that you may still have.
What Is the Contingency Fee Percentage?
Though you most likely won’t have to pay your personal injury attorney up-front, you still will want to know how much money you will be paying your attorney. Most of the time, instead of always charging a set amount of money, personal injury attorneys stipulate in their contingency agreement a percentage amount that generally falls between 30% and 40% of your settlement or award.
Generally speaking, you will owe your attorney about one-third of your settlement amount. For instance, if the settlement in your case was $60,000, you would receive $40,000 while your lawyer would get $20,000.
The net benefit to the injured client is often far more substantial than if they have tried to handle the cases on their own. For one, insurers often use a claimant’s lack of knowledge against them and act as if a claim cannot proceed when, in fact, it does have merits. Many times, the legal knowledge and evidentiary information an attorney provides is enough to pressure an insurer to relent and offer a higher settlement value compared to if the claim had been handled by the injury victim alone. There is also the time, expense, and effort associated with managing a case that must progress to a lawsuit or a trial, which one person could not manageably handle, especially if they have recently been injured.
It is important to note that these arrangements can only be made in civil cases. If you are in need of a lawyer for a criminal case, this type of payment arrangement is not permitted.
Does the Timing of my Case Affect my Attorney’s Fees?
In your lawyer’s contingency agreement, they may choose to include a “sliding scale” fee. This means that they charge a different percentage depending on which stage your case is resolved.
This could mean that if you have a strong case that is resolved relatively quickly and without having to file a lawsuit, your attorney may take a lower percentage of the settlement. Alternatively, if your attorney has to file a lawsuit, your lawyer may charge a higher fee, closer to 40% of your settlement. If your case has to go to trial, their fee may be even higher than that. Individual attorneys will write their own contingency agreements, so it is important that you discuss this with your attorney before making decisions in your case.
What are Common Costs and Expenses in a Personal Injury Case?
In working to build your case, your attorney will need access to many documents including police reports, and medical files. Unfortunately, access to these documents often costs money. Additionally, your lawyer may hire an expert witness or an investigator to collect information and make statements on your behalf. The expert witnesses will need to be compensated for their time.
Additionally, there are other fees that will occur, such as postage and filing fees, as well as fees for depositions, transcripts, and trial exhibits.
All of these fees can add up quickly. Just as your attorney’s percentage may go up the longer the case proceeds, the fees will continue to accumulate until your case has concluded. Though the cost may not be insignificant, it is crucial to your case that your lawyer is able to access and use these resources to give you the best chance at a favorable outcome.
Who Covers Costs and Expenses as They Arise?
Just as many attorneys will not charge any fees up-front for a personal injury case, they often won’t charge you any costs or expenses as they come up. Instead, they will document all the expenses related to your case and will then deduct them from your settlement amount. This is a separate amount from the percentage the attorney is charging for their services.
Who Will Receive the Settlement Check After my Case Concludes?
It is common practice for your attorney to receive the settlement check or disbursement after your case has finished. This arrangement ensures that your lawyer will get paid for the service they provided.
A majority of personal injury attorneys work on contingency fees exclusively, and can’t risk not getting paid. When your lawyer receives the settlement payment, they will contact you. Your attorney should provide you with an itemized list for all deductions from your check including attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses. If there is a dispute over any of the fees, your lawyer may distribute the rest of the check and put the disputed amount in a trust account until the issue can be resolved.
Contact Darrigo & Diaz for your Tampa Personal Injury Case
If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in an accident in Tampa, contact an experienced attorney at Darrigo & Diaz to have a complimentary consultation. With decades of combined experience in trying personal injury cases, a lawyer from Darrigo & Diaz will meet with you and listen to the facts of your case. You will receive personalized advice on how to proceed in a way that will give you the best chance of receiving a favorable outcome.
Whether you were hurt in a car accident, on the job, or were a victim of someone else’s negligence, trust Darrigo & Diaz to handle your case with experience, compassion, and care. With over 20 years of experience, we have worked to represent hundreds of clients in the Tampa area. Call us at (813) 774-3341 or contact us online to set up your no-obligation consultation. As always, your consultation is completely free, and we don’t get paid unless you win. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start helping you!