When you have experienced an accident or event that led you to personal injuries, retaining a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney can make a big difference in recovering your injuries. But just how much are personal injury lawyer fees, and what is reasonable to pay for this important service?
Types of Fees in Personal Injury Cases
In many cases, personal injury attorneys — particularly those who represent the victims of an injury, or the plaintiffs — work on the basis of a contingent fee agreement. This means their fee is contingent upon the victim’s recovery: if the victim recovers nothing, the attorney likewise will not receive a fee. When the victim recovers, a certain percentage of the damages they recover will be paid to their personal injury attorney.
The percentage of contingency fees can vary, as a result of many factors. In all states, ethics rules demand that contingency fees be reasonable, but what constitutes a reasonable fee can depend on state rules. Additionally, an attorney may charge a different percentage depending on the ultimate outcome and the level of work involved: for instance, they may charge a lower percentage if a case is settled before it goes to trial, but a higher percentage of any recovery as a result of a trial verdict.
Some attorneys may employ a different fee structure in personal injury cases. They may work for an hourly rate, for example, charging for their expertise by the time spent on the case. They may work for a fixed fee, setting a specific fee amount for taking on the case. Those fees tend to be more common if the attorney is representing the defendant in a personal injury matter. In some cases, personal injury attorneys can also work on a “hybrid” fee arrangement — for example, they may work on an hourly basis but cap the maximum attorney fees at a set, fixed-fee amount.
Calculating a Personal Injury Lawyer’s Fees
There are many factors that are considered by personal injury lawyers when they calculate fees in a particular case. An attorney who just finished law school likely shouldn’t charge the same fees as an attorney with decades of experience; likewise, a case that is difficult or involves new legal issues likely won’t carry the same expenses and fees as a case that’s much more simple.
To arrive at the proper calculations for attorney’s fees, the following questions may be considered:
- What is the attorney’s level of experience with this type of case?
- What skills does the attorney have to assist with this case, and how does their reputation potentially affect your recovery?
- What is the amount of potential recovery involved in the case?
- Are there any time limitations that might affect the fee?
- What is the prevailing rate for personal injury attorneys in the geographic area?
- What is the level of difficulty involved in the particular case?
- What do your state’s ethics rules prescribe regarding contingency fees?
Based on those factors, an attorney can set a specific percentage for their contingency fees. In addition to attorney fees, you may also encounter some other typical expenses in your personal injury case.
Other Expenses in Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases often involve some additional expenses, most of which will be paid out of the recovery. These expenses are often called “costs,” which are in addition to the attorney fees involved in the case. For example:
- Filing fees, such as fees for filing the Complaint in court
- Expert witness fees, including charges to review your case, prepare an expert report or testify in court
- Costs of investigating and gathering facts, such as obtaining medical and police records, or even hiring a private investigator in some cases
- Transcription costs and deposition expenses
- Administrative costs, such as postage and copy charges
Considering Your Expenses When Hiring an Attorney
The expenses and fees involved in your case are usually a big consideration in hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you. However, the amount of a personal injury lawyer’s fee — though it might be an important consideration — should not be the sole determining factor in choosing an attorney to represent you.
Since attorney fees are largely based on the level of skill and experience needed to take a particular case, you should always aim to hire an attorney who has the requisite experience and knowledge to handle your case, particularly if it is involved, difficult, or involves novel or problematic questions of law or fact.
FVF Can Help
Personal injury cases can be difficult to navigate, making it important to connect with an experienced lawyer who can help you decide your next steps. Our lawyers at FVF Law will never take more in fees than is handed out to our client for their recovery. You can rest easy knowing that FVF’s Austin attorneys bring great value to your case. Contact us today to learn more.