How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

Suffering a personal injury can have a significant impact on your life, both financially and personally. From medical expenses and lost income to physical pain and emotional distress, the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming.

Your injury will invariably cause a deterioration in your finances. No matter what your situation was before, you will find yourself facing numerous financial difficulties in the days after your accident.

The first challenge you will have is paying your share of your medical expenses. Even though you may expect compensation in the future, you may still need to pay deductibles and copayments now. Your healthcare providers may expect immediate payment for their services.

Then, maybe you cannot work because of your physical injuries. Even if you can work, you may have to take unpaid time off or use some of your vacation time as you continue to recover. Personal injuries can cost you money from your pocket in both the short and long run.

At the same time, you know you need a lawyer to represent you when you try to handle all these details.

When dealing with medical bills, insurance claims, and the challenges of the legal system, a knowledgeable attorney can make all the difference. Otherwise, you will end up with far less money than you deserve, even if you receive some payment for your injuries.

You may worry about how to stretch your limited financial resources to afford legal help. The good news is that this is a tough choice that you do not have to make.

Most types of lawyers will charge you by the hour for their time.

For example, family law or DUI defense attorneys will get paid hourly; many lawyers can charge you more than $300 per hour. They will ask for you to pay them at the beginning of your case in advance of the work that they perform. They may also require a retainer to cover future hours they will work for you. Then, the lawyer may send you additional bills if no more funds are in the retainer.

A personal injury attorney in Sebastian is one of the few types of attorneys who works differently.

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You Sign a Representation Agreement When You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost

When you hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you, they will have you sign a representation agreement with them. This agreement is a contract, just like any other agreement with a party, and the terms of the representation agreement are binding.

Every term of the representation must be in the agreement and laid out in plain writing. The lawyer cannot add any other terms to the agreement after you and the attorney sign it. They may have a standard representation agreement for all their personal injury clients, or they can draft a special agreement for your case.

Either way, you have the right to review the agreement before you sign it.

The Representation Addresses Fees and Expenses

One of the critical features of the representation agreement is how your attorney handles fees and expenses.

The contract will specify that the attorney only gets paid if and when you win your case and will clearly state the representation is on a contingency basis. The agreement will also describe how your lawyer will deal with fees in your case. 

Usually, your attorney will lay out the money for the expenses associated with the case, including court costs and expert witnesses. If you win your case, they will deduct these fees from the proceeds of your settlement or jury award.

The lawyer cannot charge you a penny for anything not explicitly described in advance in the plain language of the representation agreement.

Your Agreement States What You Will Pay Your Lawyer

Typically, the representation agreement will contain two different percentages. If you reach a settlement agreement, which is the most common outcome in a personal injury claim, the lawyer will receive a certain percentage of the proceeds of your case.

Usually, this percentage is one-third of your settlement amount after other fees and expenses get paid.

Your representation agreement will specify how much your lawyer gets paid if your case goes to trial and you win.

It makes sense that your attorney will receive more payment for a trial because they are putting in much more work. They can spend hundreds of additional hours preparing for a trial, with no guarantee of success. However, they may have no choice but to go to trial if the insurance company or defendant will not settle your case on reasonable terms.

Your attorney is committed to providing you with diligent legal representation, which may sometimes include litigating your case. Still, your attorney takes much more personal risk because they are spending a lot of time and advancing even more legal and court fees for your case.

The Lawyer’s Contingency Fee Must Be Reasonable

The Lawyer’s Contingency Fee Must Be Reasonable

A lawyer cannot charge you any percentage that they want. An attorney is subject to rules of professional conduct that govern how they practice law. One of the rules covers the fees an attorney can charge and states that:

“A lawyer shall not agree, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.”

However, there is no blanket prohibition or a specific amount that the rules deem unreasonable. Instead, the rules lay out a series of factors, including:

“... the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly.”

Your Lawyer Gets the Same Fee Regardless of Time Spent

Your lawyer has no control over when your case may settle other than advising you to accept a settlement offer or to keep fighting for more money.

Once they take the case, they commit to advocate for you for as long as it takes to get you the result you deserve.

The attorney can take a case and work on it for years, doing whatever they can to get you the most possible money. They may spend hundreds of hours on a case, or even more because that is what it takes to get you the money you deserve.

You Do Not Need to Pay a Lawyer if You Do Not Win

You Do Not Need to Pay a Lawyer if You Do Not Win

You may wonder how much you must pay your lawyer if you do not win your case. The answer to this question is that you do not have to pay them anything for the work that they put in.

Your lawyer may come away empty-handed, even if they devoted hundreds of hours to your case. That is the risk they take when they accept a personal injury case on a contingency basis.

It does not matter how long your case took or what your lawyer did. The rule is that if you do not win a case where the lawyer is working for you on a contingency basis, they do not get paid for what they did. Thus, you do not have any risk when you hire a lawyer. No money comes out of your pocket for their time and services.

How a Lawyer Helps With Your Personal Injury Case

Now, let us look at the risks you take when you do not hire a lawyer for your personal injury case. Simply stated, there is a solid chance you will end up with less money than if you hired a lawyer. This fact remains true, even after you pay a lawyer their percentage of your case.

An experienced attorney contributes real value to your case, often making you more money.

When you hire a lawyer, they can:

  • Learn the value of your case by studying your situation and working with expert witnesses
  • Give you advice on decisions that you need to make at crucial junctures of your case
  • Prepare an effective claim or lawsuit to file on your behalf
  • Negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the best possible settlement on your behalf, using the prospect of litigation to maximize your compensation
  • Demonstrate your damages to a jury, allowing them to award you the money you deserve if you win your case in court

You Should Hire a Lawyer at the Beginning of Your Case

The time to hire a lawyer is at the outset of your case. Then, your attorney can be the most effective in building your legal case and maximizing the compensation you may receive for your injuries.

If you do not have a lawyer on your side early in the case, you will be at a significant disadvantage to the insurance companies. They have already built an infrastructure to put you in a bad position.

You can only fully protect yourself when you hire an attorney to work for you.

A lawyer can serve as a buffer between you and the insurance companies, especially when they are trying to talk to you and get you on the record. Remember that insurance companies may try to trick you into saying something to the detriment of your case.

Since your lawyer makes the same percentage, no matter when you hire them, it makes sense to get them working on your case as early as possible.

You save no money when you wait to hire an attorney. In fact, you may leave them a mess to clean up, which can make your case more difficult or impossible to win. A lawyer may not want to accept your case when you have come to them months into the legal process, perhaps after you have already made an initial attempt to file a claim and deal with the insurance company.

Your Lawyer Fights the Insurance Companies and Handles Details on Your Behalf

Once you hire a personal injury lawyer, they will stand up for you and go to bat against the insurance companies when they are trying to cost you money.

Your lawyer will add value to your claim in many ways. They will first handle all the details in your case, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

You may have to deal with your own insurance company and healthcare providers who want to get paid immediately for their services. Your attorney can make some of these calls on your behalf, perhaps negotiating more time for you to pay your bills or reduce your medical liens.

These details can add considerable stress for you; the less you have to deal with, the better.

Your lawyer can do an effective job, and they command more respect because of their job and training.

Your lawyer’s job is to fight for you to receive total financial compensation for your injuries.

If the insurance companies will not offer you enough money or will not even pay you, your lawyer will keep up the pressure on them. You may even need to file a lawsuit directly against the defendant in court, forcing the insurance company to defend against your case.

Since insurance companies fear litigation, this tactic may be what finally forces them to sit up and take notice of you. Without the prospect of a legal threat, the insurance company can continue to say no and run out the clock.

Remember, you don't have to face the aftermath of a personal injury alone. By retaining a trusted attorney, you can gain peace of mind knowing they represent your best interests. They will work diligently to ensure you receive the compensation you need to recover and move forward with your life.

Don't let a personal injury hold you back or overwhelm you. Your well-being is worth fighting for. Reach out to a reputable personal injury lawyer today and take the first step toward pursuing the justice and compensation you deserve.