If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else’s fault and have undergone physical and financial hardship, you have every right to claim for compensation. However, it is more than likely that you will have to engage a personal injury lawyer to file the lawsuit in a prescribed manner and prove to the court of law that the claim for compensation is tenable and just. Since personal injury lawyers render a valuable service to their clients to get them fair settlements, they are entitled to get remunerated. There are a number of ways in which lawyers can charge their fees, and often these can be confusing so it is necessary to have a clear understanding so that you can plan and budget appropriately.
Personal Injury Lawyer Fee Types
One of the prime considerations in hiring a personal injury lawyer is the fees charged by him and it is vital that you understand fully how your lawyer charges his fees so that there is no confusion at the time the bill is presented for services rendered. It is the recommendation of the American Bar Association that personal injury lawyers communicate their schedule of fees to their clients in writing immediately after they have been hired. The bar, in some states, makes it mandatory for lawyers to do so before signing the contract with their clients. Typically, there are three types of fees that personal injury lawyers may charge:
Contingency: Most of the personal injury lawyer firms take on clients on contingency fee basis, which essentially means that the lawyer gets paid a certain pre-agreed percentage of the settlement amount given by the defendant. While the percentage differs from one state to another, it will usually be in the range of 33-40% but will need to be consistent with the effort the lawyer needs to put into the case. Even though your state may specify a percent that the lawyer is allowed to charge, you can negotiate for a lesser fee. Even though you pay only the contingency fee when the case has been settled in your favor, there are still a number of fees and out of pocket reimbursements that you will need to pay your lawyer. To avoid confusion and nasty surprises, it is best to ascertain all the fees and expenses before signing the contract. A reputed law firm like Mr. Personal Injury Lawyer ensures that its clients understand its fees when agreeing to take him on.
Retainer: You can engage a personal injury lawyer on a retainer agreement that specifies a certain fee to be paid by the client irrespective of what the outcome of the lawsuit is. The fee is paid upfront and the client will also have to pay other expenses like court fees, filing fees etc. as may be applicable. A typical retainer agreement will specify a number of things, among which principally will be the services provided by the attorney, actions required of the client, detailing of the applicable fees and expenses, schedule of payment, and the method of terminating the agreement before the case is settled, if so desired by any party.
Hourly: In this sort of an arrangement, the lawyer will charge a specific amount per hour he devotes to your case. Since the total bill can very quickly add to a large amount, it is best to inquire beforehand how many hours the lawyer expects to expend on the case. You may get a better deal by working with a lawyer who may charge more per hour but spends lesser hours to get a result.
Engaging a personal injury lawyer is perhaps the most crucial decision that you will take in fighting for your rights against an insurance company. While it is extremely important to hire a lawyer who is experienced, competent and has the right attitude, it is equally vital to engage a lawyer whose fees you can afford. Hence, it becomes critical to understand the sort of fees you lawyer can and will charge so that you are not taken by surprise.
Author bio: Melissa Hyde is a senior personal injury attorney working in the law office of Jerry J Trevino. A prolific blogger on personal injury cases, some of her recent articles may be read on Mr. Personal injury lawyer website.