As personal injury lawyers, we understand that you’re probably financially strapped after an unexpected accident. In addition to your everyday expenses, you may now be faced with medical bills and the cost of repairing damaged property. If your injury is severe, you may even be forced to miss time at work. This can make it even more difficult to make ends meet. The fear of the cost of a lawyer could prevent you from getting the legal help you really need.
This is why most personal injury attorneys work on what is known as a contingency fee basis. Rather than getting paid up front, your lawyer agrees to handle your case in exchange for a share of your financial settlement or award. Many times, you don’t have to worry about paying your lawyer unless they win your case.
How much money can you expect to pay your personal injury lawyer? What percentage of your financial award will go to your attorney? There is no one right answer. How much your attorney gets will ultimately depend on the agreement you negotiate before they agree to take your case.
What Factors Could Affect My Attorney’s Fee?
Most attorneys agree to handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. They don’t get paid a set amount. Instead, you agree to give them a particular percentage of your financial settlement or award.
Many factors can affect the percentage your attorney will expect to be paid. These include:
- The attorney’s experience
- Your case’s level of difficulty
- Where your attorney is located, and
- The type of case you’re filing.
In Orange County, it’s reasonable to expect an attorney to take between 30 and 40 percent of your award. The average attorney will generally take one-third of the compensation you receive. According to Sherwin Arzani, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, says you can expect the same L.A. County.
Questions to Ask When Negotiating Your Attorney’s Fee
Your attorney will have a structure in place to determine an appropriate fee for handling your case. You should ask questions so that you understand:
- How much your attorney will expect to be paid, and
- If you will be responsible for any costs.
Here are questions you should ask when negotiating your attorney’s fee.
Who Covers Court Costs and Case-Related Fees?
There are certain expenses and costs that are necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit. At the very least, you’ll incur court costs and filing fees. If your case is complex, you may also have costs for investigations and expert witnesses. Who covers these costs if you win? Who covers these costs if you lose? Will the costs be covered by your lawyer or deducted from your financial award?
Will Your Attorney’s Compensation Be Based on the Net or Gross Award?
Most attorneys will agree to cover the expenses that are related to or generated by your personal injury lawsuit. However, they’ll expect to be reimbursed when you receive a settlement or award. How this reimbursement is calculated will affect how much your attorney gets paid and how much you get to keep.
Gross Award: The gross amount of your award is the full amount, not reduced by any costs or fees.
Example: You agree to pay your attorney 40 percent of your gross financial award. You settle your case for $100,000. Your attorney will be entitled to 40 percent, or $40,000, of your gross award. You walk away with $60,000 in compensation.
Net Award: The net amount of your award is the full amount reduced by costs and fees.
Example: You agree to pay your attorney 40 percent of your net financial award. You settle your case for $100,000. Court costs and case-related fees total $20,000. Your net financial award is $80,000. Your attorney will be entitled to 40 percent, or $32,000, of your net award. You walk away with $48,000 in compensation.
As you can see, how your attorney’s fee is calculated can significantly affect how much money you get in the end.
Does Your Attorney Get Paid If You Terminate Representation Before the Case Is Over?
Sometimes an attorney or client will choose to terminate representation before the case has concluded. Will this affect your no-win, no-fee arrangement? Possibly. It typically depends on who severs the relationship.
If you fire your attorney, you’ll probably be expected to pay for any fees or costs that have been incurred since your case began.
However, if your attorney terminates their own representation, you probably will not be on the hook for any case-related costs or expenses.
These issues should be detailed in writing in the contract between you and your lawyer.
Have you been involved in an Orange County accident? Are you struggling with a painful injury and mounting medical bills? Contact the Law Offices of John Rapillo for help with your personal injury case. Our attorneys are prepared to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Call today to learn more.