If you have been searching for a personal injury attorney you’ve likely seen that personal injury legal services are, many times, offered on a “contingency fee basis.” What does this mean for you, the injured accident victim? When will you be required to pay an attorney who works on a contingency fee basis? How much will have to pay if your case is successful? Are there any hidden costs?
There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. Instead, the answers will depend on the specific attorney you speak with and the type of case you have. However, there are general guidelines that most personal injury attorneys follow when offering services on a contingency fee basis.
What Does it Mean to Work on a Contingency Fee Basis?
When a personal injury attorney agrees to work on a contingency fee basis they are betting on the strength of your case. Instead of asking you to pay for their legal work up front, a personal injury attorney agrees to handle your case in exchange for future compensation. This compensation is typically a percentage of whatever settlement or award you recover in your case.
What Percentage Will a Personal Injury Attorney Take?
The answer to this question will vary based on:
- your geographic location,
- the complexity of your case,
- the type of personal injury claim you are filing, and
- the specific attorney you hire.
In San Diego, CA, most personal injury attorneys will negotiate a fee that is somewhere between 30 percent and 40 percent of your settlement or award. Again, this will vary depending on your specific case. In general, however, you can expect that a personal injury attorney will take about one-third of your settlement.
What Questions Should I Ask About Compensation Schemes?
When you meet with a personal injury attorney for a free consultation do not be afraid to ask about that firm’s specific compensation scheme. Each firm’s compensation structure will be slightly different, so it is important to understand the details for each firm you speak with. Here are a few questions you should ask when inquiring about a personal injury attorney’s fee structure.
Are calculations based on the gross or net award?
Your attorney may say that they will receive one-third of the compensation you receive. Is this one-third of the gross award you receive, or one-third of the compensation you net, after fees and court-costs are deducted? For example, let’s say you are awarded $100,000 in a Los Angeles personal injury claim. You incur about $10,000 in court costs and case-related fees. When you hired your attorney, you agreed to pay them 30 percent of your recovery. Is your attorney entitled to 30 percent of $100,000 (the gross award) or 30 percent of $90,000 (the net award)? The answer to this question is important, because it affects how much you end up bringing home.
Are There Any Hidden Fees?
It is important to know that in addition to your attorney’s contingent fee, you may also be responsible for paying additional fees and costs related to your case. There are many costs associated with a personal injury case, from filing the paperwork in court to deposing witnesses in an investigation. You may be expected to pay for these costs out-of-pocket regardless of whether you win or lose your case. Each attorney’s fee structure is different. Some will ask you to pay a small amount of money up-front to take care of filing fees and case-related costs, while others will front these costs and charge a greater percentage on the back end. Most Los Angeles personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to ask very specific questions about their contingent fee and court costs.
The Injury Trial Lawyers know that the compensation you recover after an injury-causing accident can be incredibly important to your physical, emotional, and mental recovery. You should know exactly how much of your award will be earmarked for court costs, case-related fees, and attorney compensation. When you come in to meet us during your free consultation we will thoroughly review our compensation scheme and answer any questions you have. Call us today to learn more.