Personal injury lawyers don’t calculate their legal fees like other lawyers do. That is a big advantage for you if you don’t have any money. Most lawyers charge by the “billable hour,” which amounts to hundreds of dollars an hour. With a personal injury lawyer, you pay nothing upfront.
The Contingency Fee System
Under the contingency fee system, your lawyer charges you legal fees based on a pre-agreed percentage of the amount you eventually win. A typical contingency fee ranges somewhere between 30% and 40% of your total amount of compensation.
You might win your money in court, but you will probably win it at the settlement table. In rare cases, personal injury attorneys actually lose cases. Most personal injury lawyers, however, have “win” rates of 95% or more. This means that in at least 95% of cases, the victim obtains at least some compensation.
Out-of-Pocket Case Expenses
In addition to legal fees, your case will generate certain out-of-pocket expenses, such as the following:
- Expert witness fees;
- Document copying fees;
- Legal transcription or videographer fees (for depositions);
- Court costs;
- Travel and investigation expenses; and
- Other expenses.
Most personal injury lawyers are willing to pay these expenses in advance on the condition of reimbursement from the victim’s eventual compensation, if any. Most personal injury lawyers charge case expenses on a “no win, no pay” basis.
How Much To Charge? A Lawyer’s Considerations
The following considerations are key when a personal injury lawyer determines how much of a contingency fee to ask for.
- The amount of your case expenses: The higher your case expenses, the greater risk your lawyer takes by paying them upfront. After all, if you lose, your lawyer is out of the money. Generally speaking, the higher your case expenses, the higher your contingency fee.
- The total amount of your claim: The larger your claim, the greater the opportunity to earn money. A lower percentage of a larger claim might be more lucrative than a higher percentage of a smaller claim. Consequently, if your claim is large enough, your lawyer might be willing to lower the contingency fee percentage.
- The complexity of your case: Complex cases take time, and time is money. If your case looks complex, your lawyer might raise their contingency fee in anticipation of the time they will spend. There is an irony here–the most complex cases are typically product liability claims and medical malpractice claims. But New York limits lawyer contingency fees in medical malpractice cases, despite their typical complexity.
- The strength of your claim: Most personal injury lawyers only take strong claims. Nevertheless, some claims are stronger than others. The stronger your claim is (and the larger it is), the lower the contingency fee your lawyer might be able to settle for.
- Whether your case goes to trial: Again, time is money, and trials take time. Your fee agreement with your lawyer might raise your contingency fee if and only if your case goes to trial.
Read your fee agreement carefully before you sign it.
How the Contingency Fee System Helps Personal Injury Victims
The contingency fee system helps you in several ways:
- It allows you to secure legal representation even if you haven’t a penny in your pocket.
- The contingency fee system can get you access to the very best lawyers the legal system has to offer, depending on the strength and value of your claim.
- It eliminates the risk that you might end up paying high legal fees for a case you lose. If you don’t get compensation, you don’t pay.
- You and your lawyer will have no conflict of interest. After all, the more money you make, the more money your lawyer makes.
All in all, the contingency fee is a democratizing influence on personal injury law. Steer clear of any personal injury lawyer who tries to charge you based on billable hours.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a New York Personal Injury Lawyer
An initial case consultation with a Queens, NY, personal injury lawyer is almost always free of charge. It is also free of obligation. You are under no obligation to hire the lawyer, and they are under no obligation to take your case.
Because of the financial incentive, however, if they take your case, you can be pretty sure they believe they can win it. Otherwise, taking your case wouldn’t make economic sense for them.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Queens, NY
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