Contingency Fees in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by: on Tue, Apr 02, 2013

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One of the provisions in the client agreement will be for legal fees. The majority of personal injury lawsuits use a contingency fee. Other types of cases, like criminal defense or family law, rely on flat fees or hourly billing. For plaintiff personal injury lawsuits cases, the contingency fee permits regular people to hire a lawyer to take on large hospitals, insurance companies and doctors.

Under the contingency fee system, the lawyer does not get paid hourly and does not receive any payments directly from the client. Instead, the lawyer only gets paid at the end of the case if there is a recovery. The lawyer will not get paid unless the case settles or gets a plaintiffs’ verdict at trial. If the case is lost at trial, the lawyer will not get paid.

The exact nature of the fee structure can vary slightly by lawyer and by type of case, but the majority of injury lawyers in the U.S. do it the same way: the lawyers get paid one-third (33.33%) of the total recovery if the case settles before a lawsuit is filed in court; the lawyers get 40% or more of the total recovery if the case settles after a lawsuit is filed, or if a plaintiff’s verdict is achieved at trial. Many lawyers have been increasing their fee to 50% of the recovery, but we at ASWA believe that is too high.

The difference in the fee between a pre-filing settlement and a post-filing recovery is based on the amount of work that goes into a case. There is an extraordinary amount of time and effort that goes into preparing a case to be filed, and even more work in taking it to trial: intense meetings with treating physicians and experts, legal research, assisting with expert reports, drafting the complaint, writing and responding to motions, performing discovery, attending depositions, and finally a full jury trial.

Case Expenses

The legal expenses of a personal injury case include anything that costs money. This is not for the lawyers’ time, which is paid for through the contingency fee. Examples of case expenses include:

    • Mailings, postage and delivery costs
    • Copies and printouts
    • Costs of medical records
    • Mileage and transportation costs (to court, expert meetings, etc…)
    • Exhibits (electronic and physical)
    • Medical experts and other expert witness fees (including economists, dentists, surgeons etc.)
    • Deposition and court reporting costs
    • Court fees

About the Authors: The law firm of Albright, Stoddard, Warnick & Albright is an A-V Rated Nevada-based full-service law firm having attorneys licensed in Nevada, California and Utah. We have a broad range of experience in advising and representing parties involved in personal injury actions.

Note: This article, and any other information you obtain at this website, is not offered as legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such, nor is it a solicitation for legal services. Only a licensed attorney can advise you with respect to your specific legal needs. We welcome your contacting our firm to discuss such representation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

About the Authors: The law firm of Albright, Stoddard, Warnick & Albright is an A-V Rated Nevada-based full-service law firm having attorneys licensed in Nevada, California and Utah. Our firm’s practice includes a strong emphasis on personal injury accidents. Call us at 702-384-7111.

Note: This article, and any other information you obtain at this website, is not offered as legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such, nor is it a solicitation for legal services. Only a licensed attorney can advise you with respect to your specific legal needs. We welcome your contacting our firm to discuss such representation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.