Suffering any kind of personal injury due to another party’s negligence, recklessness or intentional actions can be deeply traumatizing – and dealing with the other party’s insurance company as you try to get fair compensation doesn’t make anything easier.
You know that it’s wisest to hire a personal injury attorney, but how can you afford one? Here’s what you need to know.
Contingency fees are the norm
For many situations, you have to pay an attorney and an up-front retainer to procure their services and make payments as you go. However, that would put legal services out of reach for the average injury victim. For that reason, most personal injury attorneys work on contingency fees.
Under this kind of arrangement, the attorney’s fees are contingent upon the successful resolution of your case – whether that’s through a settlement or a trial. In other words, the attorney only gets paid if they secure some kind of compensation for you.
While it’s often possible to negotiate different agreements, it isn’t uncommon for the attorney’s fee to be a percentage of your settlement or award, rather than a “flat fee” or set amount. That percentage may shift, depending on how much work the attorney has to do. For example, your contingency fee agreement may specify that your attorney gets one-fourth of what you receive if a settlement is negotiated before trial and one-third of your award if the case goes to court.
When looking at a contingency fee agreement, it’s also important to understand what expenses will also be deducted, aside from the attorney’s fees. That can include things like whatever it costs to obtain your medical records, secretarial services and copy fees, postage costs for notices and the like. You should also know whether those fees will be deducted before your attorney takes their fee or after, since that can have a significant effect on what you ultimately receive.
Aside from making legal services accessible to personal injury victims from all walks of life, the contingency fee system has another advantage: If an attorney takes your case, that shows that they believe your case has merit (since no attorney wants to work for free). In this way, if you’ve been injured, the fear of big legal fees doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing your claim.