When confronting unexpected legal issues, you may not know how to navigate the process, what your rights are under the law, and how you should protect those rights. For example, a lawyer can answer your questions and assist with legal troubles, but how do you know when you need one, and how can you afford one?
The most common deterrent for an individual to call a lawyer for help when needed is the fear of the unknown cost and potential financial burden it can cause. Fortunately, hiring an attorney does not need to be an intimidating or complicated process. Lawyers should notify a potential client of the terms of their representation and whether they can accept your case. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
Having a better understanding of lawyer fees and the process of hiring one for your case can help you make better-informed decisions regarding the legal issues you may currently be facing. In addition, you may realize that hiring a lawyer for your case is necessary and something that is not out of reach for you.
What Is a Free Case Consultation?
Many lawyers advertise that they offer potential clients a free case consultation to talk about their cases. Accepting or requesting a free consultation of your case does not automatically mean you must hire that attorney, or the attorney will take your case.
The free case consultation is a resource for both attorneys and you to meet with one another and discuss your case and the possible legal options. The information a lawyer gathers during this consultation can help them decide whether they can take you on as a client. Additionally, you can use this free consultation to ask questions of the lawyer and determine if they might be a good fit for you and your needs in the case.
Not all lawyers will offer free case consultations. Free case consultations are most common in matters involving personal injury. Before scheduling a consultation, ask the attorney’s office whether this is an initial free consult to avoid surprises once you arrive.
Fee Agreements in Personal Injury Cases Versus Other Legal Matters
A contingency fee agreement is the most common payment arrangement in a personal injury case. In this agreement, payment of your lawyer’s fees is dependent entirely upon the resolution of your case.
Not all personal injury attorneys, however, will work on contingency. Always discuss with an attorney during the initial free consultation how they will bill you and the terms of any fee arrangement. Contingency fee agreements can vary from one lawyer to another as to the details, percentage rate, and terms applicable to your case.
Lawyers use other fee arrangements when entering into an agreement to represent a client.
These fee arrangements mainly apply to other areas of the law, but knowing the terms and what they mean can help.
- Hourly rates. This is the most common manner lawyers bill their clients for their work in a case. Billable hours refer to the amount of time a lawyer dedicates to a particular case, and the hourly rate is how much they will charge their client for hours worked.
- Flat rates. A flat fee or flat rate is a billing arrangement whereby a lawyer agrees to a fixed price for the closed-ended type of legal work. This is common when a lawyer handles a specific concern, helping a client with paperwork, or a narrow legal issue. In this arrangement, a client pays the price set by a lawyer for help with a particular legal need of a client.
- Retainer. A retainer fee is part of many legal representation arrangements. The retainer is an amount set by a lawyer that a client pays to secure representation and acts as a deposit where future work by the lawyer is billed against the amount. This is an upfront payment that a lawyer may require to help a client in certain areas of the law. Retainers are not common practice in personal injury cases where a lawyer often accepts to represent a client with no upfront costs.
- Rate determined by statute. Depending on the type of legal work involved, there are circumstances in which the attorney does not set their lawyer fees. Instead, it is a statute or the court determining the fee allowed and allocated to a lawyer for their work in a case.
What Do You Need to Pay to Secure a Lawyer’s Representation for a Personal Injury?
If you are a personal injury victim, you may wonder just how much money you will need upfront to hire an attorney who accepts you as a client. To hire a lawyer in a personal injury case, you will need zero money to hire representation if the lawyer agrees to work on contingency. Lawyers that work on a contingency basis will charge you nothing upfront to secure their representation in your case.
While you will need to enter into a contingency fee agreement for their help with your case, you will not need to pay for them to help you before reaching a resolution. There is very little risk involved in hiring a lawyer to represent you in a personal injury claim. You only pay a lawyer working on a contingency fee if and when you win money in your personal injury case.
Pay if You Win - Contingency-Fee Agreements in a Personal Injury Case
When a lawyer accepts your case on contingency, you agree to pay them when you win. Suppose you are unable to reach a resolution that results in any monetary compensation in your case. In that case, you are under no obligation to pay your lawyer for their lawyer fees.
However, if you reach a settlement or a verdict in a court case, the attorney will receive the percentage agreed upon in the contingency fee agreement.
The compensation your attorney should receive if you win can depend on various factors. The contingency fee agreement should delineate the percentage of the compensation you will pay your attorney.
A lawyer can significantly impact your case’s outcome, which may lead you to receive a much higher amount of compensation. The successful resolution of an injury claim or lawsuit is worth the costs of paying a lawyer’s fees for many victims in a personal injury matter.
Settling Outside of Court
Most personal injury cases begin with an insurance claim. When you hire an attorney from the beginning of your case, they can help you prepare a claim for your losses through an insurer. They can then work to calculate your damages and negotiate a settlement for the maximum damages, if possible, with the insurance company.
How much an attorney charges if you win your case may vary. Settlements are common in personal injury matters, and a lawyer is often successful at helping their client reach a resolution before having to file suit in court. Before hiring a lawyer, you will review the details surrounding their lawyer fees in your case in your fee agreement.
Filing a Lawsuit
A lawyer may advise that a lawsuit is necessary or may benefit your interests in your case. Lawsuits proceeding to trial can take time and resources to properly prepare and build a plaintiff’s case. However, when a lawyer recommends filing a lawsuit, often it is because it is in their client’s best interest, and there may be a potential for you to receive greater compensation.
When lawyers are working on contingency, a trial can be a big risk because they contribute significant resources and time to the preparation and resolution of the case. The percentage of your compensation that will go to lawyer fees should be stipulated in your attorney fee agreement at the inception of your representation with the lawyer, including the different scenarios that may develop in the case, such as resolving the case outside of court or after a lawsuit filing.
Reading the agreement thoroughly can help you understand how much you will need to pay your lawyer if you win money in your case.
What Is the Difference Between Lawyer Fees and Other Case Costs?
A lawyer fee is the cost of the attorney’s work on your case. This includes the research, analysis, and strategy your attorney implements to work towards a positive resolution benefiting you, their client. When you pay an attorney’s fees, you are paying for their knowledge, experience, and hours of work they dedicate leading up to a resolution in your case.
Lawyer fees, however, are not the same as case-related costs. Certain expenses accrue in a personal injury case apart from your attorney fees, such as printing expenses, experts, and other materials necessary. Every attorney may handle their approach to these costs differently. For example, when hiring a lawyer for your injury case, ask about the terms of your agreement relating to case costs that arise during your claim or lawsuit.
Reviewing Your Fee Agreement Before Hiring Your Attorney
The most important thing you can do when hiring a lawyer for help with a personal injury matter or any other type of legal issue is to take your time and review the fee agreement you are entering into. The benefit of hiring a lawyer on contingency is that there is little risk to you upfront since you do not need to pay for an attorney to accept your case.
However, the ultimate goal in your case is to reach a settlement that meets your needs after suffering damages due to negligence. If you reach a resolution, you must pay for your lawyer’s assistance. By taking the time to read your agreement, you can know what to expect and how much compensation you may receive in your case after paying your legal fees.
How Can a Lawyer Help You Following an Injury?
Lawyers cost money, and although it may seem as though the percentage of your compensation that will go to an attorney is significant, the reality is that having a lawyer can make a big difference in the results of your case. If your claim results in a denial or low settlement offer, you will unlikely get the compensation you need to meet the burden of your losses following a personal injury.
A lawyer can help you fight for the maximum compensation following a personal injury accident. In many instances, the outcomes for victims with a personal injury attorney are much better than those without.
A personal injury lawyer can help you throughout each step in your case, including investigating the accident, collecting evidence, accounting for your losses, and negotiating and representing you in court if needed.
When Should You Call a Lawyer for a Personal Injury?
The timing of when you hire an attorney can make a difference in your claim. Hiring a lawyer before you speak with an insurance representative and take any action on the matter can help you get the best possible resolution.
Call a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can following an accident that leads to an injury. Contact an attorney for a free case consultation and discuss how they can help you with your claim or case.