What Are Typical Attorney Fees in Personal Injury Cases?

Laurence Mandell discusses attorney fees in personal injury cases.

Personal injury attorneys generally accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which can be helpful for those short of cash who need to file a lawsuit. In these types of cases, a lawyer’s fee is “contingent” – or dependent – upon a successful outcome for the client. The lawyer will only be paid if he or she is able to negotiate a monetary settlement or win a judgment on the client’s behalf. This means that clients typically do not have to pay attorneys up front in order to hire them, and there should be no attorney fees in personal injury cases where the plaintiff does not receive compensation.

Contingency fees are generally a percentage of the amount received in a settlement or judgment. This percentage varies from state to state but generally average 33.33% to 40% of the personal injury award. Some lawyers offer a sliding scale based on how far along the case is when it is settled, for example, charging a smaller percentage if the case is settled before a lawyer carries out the work needed to go to trial. Although it may be possible to negotiate a lower rate, personal injury attorneys – especially the good ones – may not be willing to negotiate.

What Are the Other Costs of Prosecuting My Case?

Finally, when discussing the contingency fee, it is important to understand how the contingency fee will be calculated – whether on the gross award (the award before the lawyer’s expenses have been deducted) or the net judgment (the award after expenses have been deducted).

It is important to note that an attorney’s fee is different from costs – out of pocket expenses such as filing fees, deposition fees, expert witness fees, etc. – for which a client will also be responsible if the case is won; often these fees will be waived if the case is lost. These costs can add up, therefore it is important to discuss what costs will be incurred and in what way a client will be billed for such costs.

The Fee Should Not Be Your Only Consideration

Lawyers take a risk when accepting a case on a contingency fee because he or she will be investing time and resources without a guarantee of payment. This means that a lawyer will usually only take a case with a significant chance of a positive outcome, which may yield a considerable payoff. The client benefits in this situation because a contingency fee costs nothing without a win, and the lawyer is self-motivated to receive the best possible outcome.

When deciding on a personal injury attorney, it is important to have a firm understanding of how the contingency fee and the related costs will be paid if the case is won, as well as in the event of a loss. Additionally, the lawyer’s skill level, experience and reputation are key considerations and play a significant role in the potential success of a case and the amount of compensation awarded. Low attorney fees in personal injury cases mean nothing if you don’t win your case.

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Let Laurence Mandell Help You Evaluate Your Case

Laurence Mandell is the managing partner of The Mandell Law Firm, an aggressive personal injury and wrongful death law firm in Woodland Hills, California serving clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, the Greater Los Angeles area and Southern California. Experienced and reputable, our attorneys provide hands-on care and sincere commitment to victims of personal injury of all kinds, including accidents and negligence. If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, contact Laurence Mandell for a free consultation at 818.886.6600.

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