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If you’re suffering from a personal injury, the last thing you want to worry about is the cost of paying a lawyer, on top of all the medical bills you already have. It’s reassuring to have an estimate of the size of the dent a personal injury lawyer's contingency will put in your wallet so you can prepare your finances accurately.
Personal injury lawyers, and all lawyers in general, often require a contingency fee that you pay when the case is over. Although the average contingency fee a personal injury lawyer will accept varies, it will generally fall within 10-45% of the final settlement amount. Attorneys typically require one-third of your settlement, which would be 33.33%.
On rare occasions, your personal injury lawyer may ask for a hybrid agreement, which includes a percentage of the outcome and a fixed hourly rate. Whether or not you have to pay a contingency fee depends upon the charges filed and the amount of work the attorney anticipates. It’s an added incentive for an attorney to work toward a positive outcome.
Which Situations Could Result in a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases may result from a variety of situations, including:
- Assault and battery of varying degrees, are intentional and would not be due to negligence.
- A car accident during which both mental and physical injuries may have occurred.
- A slip and fall incident, which typically happens in the workplace, or within a commercial setting.
- Medical malpractice, which is when harm occurs because proper care is not exercised by a medical professional.
- An animal-related incident, such as a dog bite.
When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Following a personal injury resulting from an accidental or intentional incident, there are situations where you may be able to settle compensation matters outside of a courtroom. However, some aspects of your injury may require hiring an attorney to handle the case, especially if another person is involved.
If your injuries seem minor, you may want to avoid contacting an attorney. However, those seemingly minor injuries could become increasingly worse as time goes on. The best advice is to wait until you have fully investigated the extent of the damage you have endured to see what payments you can receive. You may also be entitled to compensation for suffering.
What Happens When You File a Personal Injury Case?
Once all other avenues have been exhausted and you have decided to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you will first contact an attorney that specializes in personal injury cases. You should keep all proof and evidence of the injury for your case.
Your attorney will file a personal injury complaint on your behalf. This complaint will go to the opposing party, and they will most likely hire their own defense attorney. The discovery phase will then begin, which requires collecting evidence from both sides.
If the case goes to court, they will appoint a jury, and the trial will typically take a few days. If found guilty, the defendant may appeal the outcome, which can take several years to complete in some cases. The plaintiff may also appeal if the outcome is not in their favor.
Most of the time, these cases will result in a settlement to avoid the burden of a long, drawn-out lawsuit and the lengthy court process. A personal injury attorney will help you to navigate this process and determine your best options.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawyer Contingency Fee?
Once you have found a suitable personal injury lawyer, their chosen form of payment may be a contingency fee. In this case, their fee would be contingent upon the outcome of the case and the resulting settlement. This agreement would have to be in writing and signed.
A personal injury attorney that works based upon a contingency fee would require a percentage of your settlement upon completion of their work with you. This relationship will conclude when you receive a settlement or win against the defend
Does the Average Contingency Fee Vary?
Yes, the contingency varies from case to case, and there are a few factors that can affect the rate your lawyer charges.
Should your case require more work, you would be looking at a rate that is higher on the contingency spectrum. The lawyer may also require additional costs on top of that contingency fee. It may be necessary to hire an expert witness or file documents for the case. You will have to pay for these services in addition to the resulting contingency fee.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Contingency Fee Agreement?
Some feel that offering the option of payment with a contingency fee allows those who would not be able to afford to hire an attorney the opportunity for representation in a personal injury matter. This option also gives your attorney greater incentive to work toward a positive outcome on your behalf.
However, some are not in favor of this method. They feel that attorneys may want to settle cases quickly to receive payment faster, or that their fees may be higher than they otherwise may be if not on a contingency basis. They also argue that a greater number of frivolous lawsuits may arise from this more lucrative option.
What Could Affect the Contingency Fee?
There are a few different things that may impact the amount of the agreed-upon contingency fee. If the case is going to be complex, a personal injury lawyer will consider that when calculating the risk of taking the case.
If your attorney is more experienced, they may charge more for their services. The opposite may be the case when an attorney is less experienced or has less education under their belt. If they have additional skills or certifications that not all attorneys have, they may require a higher contingency fee.
Are There Any Cases that Prohibit Contingency Fees?
Yes. Cases involving domestic disputes or family relations, such as divorce, prohibit contingency fees. Criminal cases are also devoid of contingency fee agreements.
These cases could incentivize unethical behavior to receive payment, which is why asking for a contingency fee for these cases is a law violation. It is unethical to enter into such an agreement for these cases.
What Is a Hybrid Agreement?
A hybrid agreement may be another option your personal injury lawyer offers. In this case, the attorney will require a reduced flat hourly fee for part of the work, then a percentage of what their client receives upon completion of the case. This may mean a settlement rather than an actual win.
What Is a Reverse Contingency Agreement?
Although less common, there are some instances in which your lawyer may offer a reverse contingency agreement. This would apply to an attorney representing a defendant. It covers a situation in which the client avoids a larger settlement, resulting in savings for them.
What If You and Your Attorney Lose the Case?
Although the contingency fee depends upon your winning the case, you could still be liable for some of the costs associated with hiring your attorney should you lose. Court charges can still apply, so you should make sure that your agreement lays out what your financial responsibilities will be in the event of a losing verdict.
What Does No-Fault Mean, and Could a Contingency Fee Apply to These Cases?
If you live in a No-Fault auto insurance state, your injuries must be of a certain level of severity to receive compensation beyond what your own insurance is willing to cover. These are called threshold conditions. If your injuries are minor, your own insurance will likely have to cover the bill, and you won’t get a court settlement.
If you are severely injured and your medical bills are above what your insurance is willing to cover, a lawsuit would be your best bet. It would benefit you to hire a personal injury attorney and seek additional damages against the opposing party.
If you have surpassed the requirements of a No-Fault situation, your attorney may offer to take your case on with a contingency fee agreement in place. This could be a great option if you are unable to otherwise hire an attorney to help you seek damages.
Which States are Considered No-Fault?
In the United States, these 12 states have No-Fault laws in place, although their personal liability protection requirements vary:
- Florida, with a PIP requirement of $10,000
- Hawaii, with a PIP of $10,000
- Kentucky, with a PIP of $10,000
- Massachusettes, with a PIP of $8,000
- Michigan, with a PIP of $50,000
- Minnesota, with a PIP of $40,000
- New Jersey, with a PIP of $15,000
- New York, with a PIP of $50,000
- North Dakota, with a PIP of $30,000
- Pennsylvania, with a PIP of $5,000
- Puerto Rico, with a PIP of $3,000
- Utah, with a PIP of $3,000
The legal proceedings behind personal injury cases may be complex, but if you have a good lawyer on your side, they’re easy to navigate. If your personal injury lawyer is going to charge a contingency fee to take on your case, don’t shy away from the deal. It may be the best way to get the compensation you deserve.
Reference Legal Explanations
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" What Is the Average Contingency Fee of a Personal Injury Lawyer?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on October 1, 2023. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-the-average-contingency-fee-of-a-personal-injury-lawyer/.
" What Is the Average Contingency Fee of a Personal Injury Lawyer?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-the-average-contingency-fee-of-a-personal-injury-lawyer/. Accessed 1 October, 2023
What Is the Average Contingency Fee of a Personal Injury Lawyer?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-the-average-contingency-fee-of-a-personal-injury-lawyer/.