Like all private lawyers, Friendswood personal injury attorneys charge for legal services. But personal injury lawyers also know the difficulties their clients face. Many of them have suffered serious injuries that require expensive medical treatment and therapy. Their injuries might prevent them from working, straining their finances even further.
Contingency fees have significant benefits to injured clients. Before hiring an injury lawyer to handle your accident claim, you should understand these benefits and how contingent fees work.
Types of Legal Fees
Clients pay private lawyers for advice, representation, and advocacy.
But the fees they charge will vary depending on the type of work. Some examples of legal fees include:
Lawyers quote hourly fees as dollars per hour. The lawyer bills the client by tracking their time on the case. Hourly fees compensate lawyers for the time they spend on cases regardless of the outcomes.
Lawyers charge hourly fees for cases that require an indefinite amount of work. Thus, a lawyer may charge an hourly rate to negotiate a contract for a business. Injury lawyers rarely charge hourly fees to represent accident victims.
Lawyers can charge fixed or flat fees for projects with a defined amount of work, such as writing a will, forming a corporation, or fighting a speeding ticket. This type of fee compensates the lawyer for completing the project.
Lawyers seldom charge a fixed fee to handle injury cases. The wide variance in the work required and outcomes obtained would prevent a lawyer from accurately projecting a fee. As a result, the client would often pay too much, or the lawyer would receive too little.
The most common fee for injury cases is a contingency fee. As the name suggests, payment of this fee is contingent on the outcome of the case. If the lawyer wins the client’s case, they take a percentage of the settlement or damage award. This type of fee compensates the lawyer for their success on behalf of the client.
Most injury lawyers charge this type of fee. When you hire a contingency fee lawyer, they typically quote their fee as a percentage. This number represents the lawyer’s payment for legal services in the case.
How Contingent Fees Work
Contingency fees do not get paid until the end of the case. At that point, the lawyer can calculate the fee using the quoted percentage and the compensation recovered. Suppose that a lawyer quotes a 35% contingency fee and settles the client’s case for $15,000. The lawyer’s fee is $5,250. This type of fee has several benefits for the client, including:
Early Evaluation of Your Case
Lawyers who take cases on a contingency fee share the risk of losing. Contingency fee lawyers who lose cases do not get paid. As a result, lawyers only offer these fees for cases they believe they can win.
The lawyer will evaluate your case during a free consultation.
During this evaluation, they will look at several issues, including:
- Has the statute of limitations expired?
- Do you have a winning case?
- How much is your case worth?
The lawyer will decide whether to offer to represent you based on the answers to all these questions. Keep in mind that lawyers turn down cases for many reasons.
No Upfront Fees
Since clients pay fees at the end of the case, the lawyer will start the case without any upfront fees. Instead, you will sign a written contingent fee agreement that explains how the fee will be calculated.
After signing the agreement, the lawyer can gather your medical records and investigate your accident. The lawyer will use this evidence to file an insurance claim and if necessary, prepare a lawsuit against the party who injured you.
No Fee for a Losing Outcome
If the lawyer loses the case, you owe no legal fee. The lawyer cannot take a percentage of $0. This risk represents the lawyer’s stake in your case.
Some people suggest that this stake ensures the lawyer puts all their efforts into winning your case. However, lawyers have an ethical duty to give clients their best efforts to win or settle their cases.
What Contingency Fees Cover
You should discuss what your lawyer includes in your fee.
Most lawyers will include the following:
- Meetings, phone calls, and emails to develop a strategy
- Investigating your accident and gathering evidence to prove your case
- Preparing and filing your insurance claim
- Responding to claim denials
- Negotiating with claims adjusters
- Drafting a lawsuit if your insurance claim does not settle
- Preparing your case for trial
- Presenting your evidence to a jury and arguing for a damage award
You should also discuss what your fee does not cover, such as filing fees and court reporter expenses. The lawyer will often advance money to pay these costs, but you must reimburse them at the end of the case.
Hiring a Friendswood Contingency Fee Lawyer
Before you hire a contingency fee lawyer, you should review the fee agreement carefully. Discuss any questions you have and sign the agreement when you clearly understand the terms. To learn about contingency fees and how much you could pay for your case, contact the Law Firm of Alton C. Todd Personal Injury Lawyers. You can call us at (281) 992-8633.