How much a personal injury lawyer will cost depends greatly on the circumstances and the value of the case. Most attorneys handle injury cases based on contingency. This means they charge for attorney’s fees only after the case concludes, and they recover compensation for the client.
Working based on contingency ensures any victim can afford to hire a personal injury attorney to handle their case. It also prevents victims from having to pay anything out of their own pockets if there is not a positive outcome in the case.
Understanding How Contingency Fees Work
Most personal injury lawyers work based on contingency fees. This means they do not ask for a retainer or other upfront fees before they begin on the case. Instead, you sign a contract stating that they will receive a portion of the settlement or payout at the close of the case.
This is only common among personal injury law firms. Most family law attorneys, criminal defense lawyers, and others charge attorney’s fees in other ways.
Contingency fee structures differ significantly from many other types of attorneys’ fees. Generally, you must pay money up front before they begin work, and you need to ensure there is enough left in your account for them to proceed. Alternatively, they could bill you for hourly fees and track their time working on your case. These are both common ways some types of attorneys charge their clients.
What’s in the Contingency Fee Contract?
The contract defines how the agreement works with your personal injury attorney. In a contingency fee agreement, the percentage should be clearly outlined. Some agreements increase the portion of the payout the attorney charges for certain reasons, such as if a lawsuit is necessary or if the case goes to trial. The attorney should be willing to discuss your fees with you and explain how this works before they ask you to sign the contract.
How much your attorney will receive depends on several factors. The work required, the complexity of the case, and the likelihood it will go to trial all become considerations. It is often possible to negotiate this percentage, too. You can expect to pay the attorney at least a third of your total payout. Some experienced personal injury law firms in Atlanta with strong reputations handling difficult cases could charge up to 40 percent of the case proceeds.
How Can I Learn More About How Much a Personal Injury Lawyer Will Cost?
Most personal injury law firms provide free case consultations. This free case review is the best opportunity to learn the specifics of a firm’s fee schedule. They will answer your questions and help you understand when they charge, how much, and how it is paid.
You need to ask these key questions during this consultation:
- Are there additional fees not included in the attorney’s fees?
- What do I owe if you do not recover compensation in my case?
- What could cause the percentage to change?
- How does the collections process work? When do I owe you?
If you do not like the answers you receive or want to shop around for a better agreement, you should. There are no set fees, and there is no standard. Attorneys charge based on their own experience as well as details related to the case. Generally, the more risk they assume representing you, the higher their percentage.
However, be careful choosing the most or least expensive attorney. You do not want to forgo important experience to pay a little less or pay an expensive lawyer to handle a case that someone much less expensive could have secured the same payout from. Weighing your options and making the choice that feels like the best fit for you is important. Having an attorney that matches your goals and approach makes the process much easier for everyone involved.
Advantages of Having a Personal Injury Lawyer Managing Your Case
People sometimes scoff at paying a third or more of their financial recovery to a lawyer. However, attorneys serve many key purposes during a personal injury lawsuit. There are several advantages to having an attorney on your side. This includes having someone who knows how to prove the value of your case, meaning you could recover more compensation than you would on your own.
Attorneys protect the rights of their clients. They know the tactics insurers use to reduce the potential value of a case and can manage all communication to ensure they are not able to do so. They document their expenses and losses, fighting for justice through fair compensation. This is the goal of filing an insurance claim or lawsuit based on a personal injury case.
Personal Injury Lawyers Can Handle Many Tasks
Your attorney will also know the laws related to filing a civil claim in your area.
- The deadlines for beginning a lawsuit
- The rules for who can pursue compensation
- How to show negligence occurred
- Who is legally liable
- Case law that could make other parties vicariously liable
- The types of damages available
- Any limitations on the financial recovery
Once your attorney finishes an investigation and builds strong support for your case, they can navigate the process for you. This means you can focus on continuing treatment, healing from your injuries, and getting back to your previous activities. You do not have to worry about figuring out the steps and taking them.
One reason it is difficult for personal injury victims to navigate the claims process on their own is that these steps are not always clear. Lawyers know what to do from their education and experience. They often know the insurance company’s process and even the judges and courthouse staff. This familiarity means they do not have to figure out the process. How to navigate the process is never an obstacle.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Handles a Claim or Lawsuit
When a personal injury lawyer represents an injured victim, they take care of their legal case. As a part of their contingency fee agreement, the firm handles all upfront costs.
They could include:
- Paying for reports or records
- Obtaining all necessary paperwork
- Investigating what happened
- Paying expert witnesses
- Hiring accident reconstruction specialists, as needed
- Paying others who provide insight and analysis on the case
- Preparing and filing a lawsuit, if necessary
They navigate this process on the client’s behalf, handling all fees, steps, and any concerns. This often begins with an investigation. During this step, they gather evidence to build a case against the liable party.
The investigation uncovers case facts that include:
- What happened
- Who caused it
- The role others played
- The damages incurred
- The victim’s injuries, prognosis, and ongoing care needs
Throughout this process, the attorney manages all communication with the at-fault party and their insurer. When necessary, they also talk to any attorneys representing the liable party. As a victim, you will never need to worry about this issue with an attorney handling your case. Your attorney has two options for pursuing compensation on your behalf:
Filing an Insurance Claim
Many personal injury cases end without a lawsuit. An attorney demands fair compensation from the liable party’s insurer and presents evidence to support the claim. The insurance adjuster generally counteroffers with a lower amount. This begins settlement negotiations.
Settlement negotiations could take a few days, weeks, or even months. There is no way to predict how long it will take before the insurer makes an offer that falls within the fair settlement range your attorney calculated. However, you can feel certain you are receiving the money you need and deserve with an attorney handling these negotiations for you.
Determining how much a case might be worth on your own could leave thousands of dollars on the negotiating table.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Sometimes, a personal injury lawsuit is necessary because:
- The deadline to sue for the accident, set by state law, is approaching.
- The liable party denies responsibility for the accident.
- The insurer will not offer a fair settlement.
- There is another reason your attorney believes it is in your best interests.
Your attorney will recommend a lawsuit when they believe it is necessary. They handle this entire process, from preparing the paperwork to cooperating with the other attorneys during pretrial motions and discovery. They can prepare the case for trial and represent your best interests to the judge and jury.
Most cases do not go to trial. While it is possible and your lawyer will pursue legal action as needed, personal injury cases often settle before the trial date arrives. In a successful case, you will likely recover compensation through a negotiated settlement instead of a verdict. This is true even after filing a lawsuit.
Why Is Working Based on Contingency Important in a Personal Injury Case?
Many people believe they cannot afford to hire an attorney to handle their personal injury case. They are already facing a mountain of medical bills, are missing work, and have other expenses to cover. They cannot afford a retainer or hourly attorney’s fees after a serious injury accident. This is why hiring a contingency fee law firm is so important.
When personal injury victim suffers injuries, they often have extensive expenses and losses. Their recoverable damages can easily reach five or six figures. Those with catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, could owe even more. Then there are income losses, future expenses, and other damages to consider. If you’re in this situation and need a personal injury attorney to help you recover compensation for your damages, we’re here to help.
Potential Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury attorneys fight for accident victims, so they do not have to pay these expenses on their own. Holding the negligent party accountable and recovering fair and just compensation is their goal. This ensures the victim is not stuck with financial uncertainty or unable to pay for the treatment of injuries they did nothing to cause.
Some of the most common damages recovered in these cases include:
- Medical bills, current and future
- Related expenses and care costs
- Ongoing care and support for lasting injuries
- Income losses from time away from work
- Diminished earning capacity if there are lasting impairments
- Property damages, such as to a vehicle after a crash
- Miscellaneous related expenses
- Pain and suffering damages
- Other intangible damages
With all of these expenses and losses to consider, many personal injury victims do not have the money up front to hire a lawyer unless they will take the case based on contingency. Even those who do should not have to spend their savings on legal representation because of someone else’s bad behavior. They can keep that money and let the law firm pay the upfront costs instead.
In this way, personal injury attorneys who work based on contingent fees and receive a portion of the client’s overall payout provide significant benefits to accident victims following a traffic accident, fall, premises liability claim, dog bite, or another injury incident.
When to Hire an Attorney About your Personal Injury Case
It is important to connect with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident and injuries. This allows them to gather evidence that could disappear as time passes. Eyewitnesses forget what they saw, businesses record over surveillance video, and other changes occur. Key evidence could go missing in the time between your accident and when the attorney investigates if you wait too long.
As soon as your injuries are stable, contact a personal injury law firm in Atlanta for a free consultation.
You can speak to a team member who can discuss your case, answer your questions, and explain how you can take the steps necessary to pursue fair compensation. They may also explain their fee structure during this complimentary case assessment.