How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Injury & Accident Attorney Serving Nearby Areas of Columbus & Fort Benning, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama
This content has been reviewed by Gary O. Bruce
Everyone knows that lawyers charge hundreds of dollars per hour for their services. Or do they? Unlike other kinds of lawyers, personal injury attorneys typically charge on a contingency fee basis instead of by the hour. This means that you can afford a personal injury attorney, no matter how much or how little you have in the bank.
We’ll explain how this works below.
Contingency Fees Means You, the Client, Always Come Out Ahead
If your previous experience with lawyers comes from working with divorce lawyers, traffic court lawyers, real estate lawyers, or so on, then you know that hiring a lawyer can get expensive very fast.
And because personal injury claims can drag out for months, or even longer, the idea of how much you might end up owing at the end can be terrifying. No one wants to be in a situation where they owe their lawyer more than they win in the settlement.
However, that’s why many personal injury firms, including the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, don’t charge by the hour. Instead, they charge a contingency fee, which means the lawyer is paid a percentage of the settlement.
Contingency fees can vary depending on the firm and even on the case, but average around 33-40% of the settlement. This is simply an average, and the amount you pay may differ.
You and the lawyer will both agree on the fee amount ahead of time, so you never have to worry about the lawyer changing their mind and deciding to charge a higher fee halfway through the case.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that the amount won’t go up, but you will have always agreed on how much it may go up ahead of time. For example, you may agree before hiring the lawyer that if they settle without going to trial, the fee will be 33%, but if you do want to go to trial, the fee will be 40%.
Contingency fees ensure that you will always end up with enough money after a settlement to pay your accident expenses and your lawyer while staying in the black.
Furthermore, because lawyers who work on contingency are paid from the settlement, if you don’t win your injury claim (and thus don’t get a settlement), you don’t have to pay the lawyer fees.
Charging by Contingency Fee Evens the Playing Field
An insurance company will typically be more willing to negotiate once you hire a lawyer than if you are trying to negotiate without one. That’s because they don’t want to go to court and drag things out any more than you do. But having a contingency fee structure means that you can afford a long, drawn-out trial (even if we prefer to avoid them to help you get paid sooner).
If injury victims had to pay for a lawyer by the hour, they could never afford to outlast the enormous financial resources that multi-million or even billion-dollar insurance companies have to keep paying for lawyer fees for months on end. But because injury victims don’t have to pay by the hour, they can meet these insurance companies on even ground.
Can I Pay a Smaller Contingency Fee?
Your contingency fee is something you will need to negotiate with your lawyer. However, there are a few circumstances where it will be much easier to argue for paying a smaller fee.
For example, if you are suing the federal government. When you are injured by a federal employee, the Federal Tort Claims Act states that a lawyer cannot charge a contingency fee of more than 20% of the settlement if settled out of court, and no more than 25% for claims that go to court.
Members of the U.S. military and their dependents may also be eligible for a reduced attorney fee in a personal injury claim. However, lawyers who are unused to working with military members may not be aware of all the benefits you are entitled to and could end up overcharging you by accident. That’s why it’s important to work with a law firm experienced with working on claims for military members, like ours.
Before signing an agreement with a lawyer, make sure to thoroughly discuss their fee, and how it may go up –or down–so you fully understand what you may be expected to pay.
Need a Lawyer? Call Gary Bruce
Our Georgia and Alabama personal injury lawyers know all the ways that insurance companies like to take advantage of victims of car accidents, and we don’t let them get away with it. Contact us today to talk to a lawyer about your claim for no charge.