Trying to pinpoint an exact amount or even a range of attorney fees is somewhat futile because the cost of a lawyer’s services varies per case and per jurisdiction. Besides, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that the lawyer only gets paid when they win the case.
What usually happens in this setup is that the client and lawyer agree on the contingent fee, which is the attorney’s percentage of the settlement that the court will award the victim.
In California, contingency fees rarely go over 40%. Usually, and this goes for personal injury cases too, the contingency fee is equivalent to one-third or 33.33% of the sum that the client gets at the end of the trial. For instance, if the court grants you a monetary award of $30,000, then the lawyer will receive $10,000.
Personal injury victims that want to hire lawyers should keep this in mind before signing any contingency fee agreement:
– The contingency fee agreement should specify how expenses incurred during the process of the trial will be settled. In short, the contract should say who will pay for disbursements made during the course of litigation, including payments for medical examinations, expert consultation, exhibit preparation and filing fees.
– The agreement should also clarify how the lawyer will be paid for other related services. The term “related services” refers to things that a lawyer may do for the client that are not related to the trial but performed as part of their working relationship. For example, negotiating with insurers regarding claims is technically not part of the PI lawsuit but could still be considered a service by the lawyer.
– The law mandates that contingency fee agreements should be put in black and white. There should be a written document, a contract, that will detail the workings of the client and lawyer’s relationship, especially with regards to fees and payment of services.