Personal injury lawyers represent victims of accidents that result from others’ negligence. Most lawyers who represent accident victims have contingency fee agreements with their clients.
Under this agreement, the lawyer will not assess a fee for their services unless and until the personal injury client recovers monetary compensation in their case—through a settlement from the insurance company, jury verdict, or binding arbitration award. If the client does not recover any compensation, they will not owe the lawyer a fee or expenses.
A personal injury lawyer’s cost will depend upon several factors, including the case’s complexity and whether the case reaches its resolution before trial. Moreover, the lawyer’s fee in a personal injury case is a portion of the total settlement or jury verdict—often around one-third of the total gross settlement. For more information, please reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from another person’s negligence, you should contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area right away. The personal injury lawyer will explain the terms of their contingency fee arrangement to you and make sure that you understand them.
An effective fee agreement must be in writing, and the client must sign it. Therefore, if you have any questions about the agreement, ask your lawyer before signing.
What is a Personal Injury Case?
An individual can file a personal injury claim if they suffer injuries in an accident that resulted from another person or entity’s negligence. Negligence occurs when a party does something that a reasonable person will not have done under the same circumstances—or fails to take some action that a reasonable person will have taken under the same circumstances.
Negligent actions and inactions can lead to:
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall occurrences
- Swimming pool accidents
- Premises accidents due to negligent security
- Motorcycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Complications arising from medical negligence
- Boating accidents
- Malfunctioning products
In a personal injury claim or lawsuit, the injured accident victim has the legal burden of proof. Consequently, they must establish all of the legal elements of their claim to recover monetary compensation.
The accident victim must demonstrate that the at-fault individual violated a duty by breaking a road rule or failing to maintain their premises properly. The accident victim also must show that the at-fault party’s negligence caused the incident and led to their injuries. The at-fault individual does not need to prove anything in the personal injury case.
If you have suffered injuries resulting from negligence, you should retain a personal injury lawyer to represent you as soon as possible. Your lawyer can investigate how the incident occurred and determine if you are eligible to file a claim for money damages. If you are, your lawyer can begin representing you as soon as you’ve reviewed and signed their fee agreement.
Injuries that Accident Victims May Suffer
Filing a personal injury claim allows an accident victim to seek monetary compensation for their injuries. The injuries that a person suffers in a car accident, slip and fall, or another occurrence will depend upon the force of the impact, the circumstances of the accident, and the type of accident involved.
Common injuries that accident victims sustain include:
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Internal injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Cuts, abrasions, and scrapes
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paralysis injuries
Victims of serious injuries typically need to obtain medical treatment—often at a hospital, doctor’s office, surgical center, or rehabilitation facility. This treatment can also be lengthy and painful. However, if you retain a personal injury lawyer to represent you soon after the accident, your lawyer can help take some of the burdens off your shoulders. For example, your lawyer can begin gathering your lost wage documents and medical documents to date.
Your lawyer may also prepare a settlement demand package to present to the insurance company once you complete your medical treatment. While your lawyer handles the legal aspects of your case, you can focus on recovering from your accident-related injuries.
How Contingency Fees Work in Personal Injury Cases
In a nutshell, a contingency fee agreement is a written contract between the accident victim and their lawyer. The agreement will contain several provisions that state how the lawyer will receive payment once the personal injury case concludes. The specific terms of the contract will vary from lawyer-to-lawyer—and from case to case.
Generally speaking, if the personal injury case resolves via a settlement agreement with the insurance company and without having to file a lawsuit, the lawyer’s fee may be one-third of the gross settlement offer.
However, in some instances, the lawyer will need to file a lawsuit in court to effectively resolve the case. A lawsuit may become necessary if the insurance company disputes fault for the accident—or if the insurance company adjuster simply refuses to offer adequate money damages to compensate the accident victim.
If the personal injury lawyer needs to file a lawsuit in the case, they may increase their fee. Some lawyers will charge a specific fee up until the time of trial and will only charge an additional fee if the case resolves at a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
Lawyers use several factors when determining their contingency fee percentage, including:
- The complexity of the personal injury case
- The amount of work that the lawyer performed on the case
- Whether the case settled out of court or went to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing
- The lawyer’s overall experience handling personal injury cases
If the accident victim does not recover monetary compensation in their case, then they will not need to pay their lawyer a fee. Your lawyer can address all of your questions and concerns about the contingency fee agreement. Once you sign, they can begin representing you in your personal injury case.
Expenses Associated with Personal Injury Litigation
The primary purpose of a lawyer’s contingency fee agreement is to establish the lawyer’s fee percentage at the end of the case. The agreement will also state who is responsible for litigation expenses. These expenses include the cost of obtaining medical records from healthcare providers, postage costs, and court filing fees.
Under the terms of many contingency arrangements, these fees will come out of the client’s gross settlement or verdict recovery at the end of the case. Many lawyers will waive these fees if a client does not obtain monetary compensation for their injuries.
Before signing an agreement with a particular lawyer, you want to make sure that you understand who will pay these litigation fees and costs at the end of the case. Again, if you have questions, your lawyer can answer them.
What Services Does a Lawyer Provide in a Personal Injury Case?
A contingency fee compensates a personal injury lawyer for their services in a successful case. For a lawyer to recover their fee, the accident victim must recover monetary compensation through a settlement, binding arbitration award, or jury verdict.
Once a client signs the lawyer’s contingency fee agreement, the lawyer can begin working on the client’s personal injury case.
After some accidents, it is difficult to determine what happened and who caused the occurrence.
A lawyer can investigate the accident circumstances by:
- Speaking with eyewitnesses to the accident
- Obtaining copies of the police report
- Reviewing eyewitness statements
- Hiring an accident reconstructionist or other expert to piece together what happened and who was at fault
In addition, while you continue your treatment, a lawyer can begin gathering your medical records, wage loss paperwork, and other documentation necessary to prove the legal elements of your case. After treatment, your lawyer can assemble all of these documents into a settlement demand package.
Along with the demand package, your lawyer will include a demand letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement within the available policy limits of insurance coverage. The demand package typically goes to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Once the insurance company reviews all of this documentation, the adjuster will decide whether to accept or deny fault for the accident. If the insurance company accepts liability, then the adjuster may make a settlement offer and ask the personal injury lawyer to relay it to their client.
In most personal injury cases, initial settlement offers are far below the actual value of the case. Insurance companies make these low offers to see if the accident victim is in a hurry to settle. After all, the insurance company wants to resolve the case as cheaply as possible.
A skilled personal injury lawyer will have the legal knowledge and experience to skillfully negotiate with the insurance company adjuster. If the insurance company increases its settlement offer and you decide to accept that offer, then the case is over, and it will not need to proceed to trial.
However, some insurance company adjusters are difficult and refuse to compensate accident victims for everything they went through following their accident. If that happens in your case, your lawyer will need to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
In almost all circumstances, accident victims have two years from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit for money damages. This statute of limitations is extremely unforgiving. Therefore, if the accident victim files suit even one day late, they will not be eligible for monetary compensation. If the statute of limitations is close at hand, a personal injury lawyer can file a lawsuit in time to protect it from running.
Even after your lawyer files suit, they can still negotiate a favourable settlement on your behalf. Sometimes, the mere act of filing suit will light a fire under the insurance company adjuster’s feet, so to speak, and convince them to put more settlement money on the table. Your lawyer can help you determine whether a particular settlement offer is a ‘good’ offer, given the circumstances of your accident, your injuries, and the overall effect that the accident had on your life.
Your lawyer can also help you satisfy all pending court deadlines and assist you through every step of litigation—including discovery. During the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit, the parties will exchange documents and answers to written interrogatories. The defense lawyer may also note the accident victim’s discovery deposition.
During a deposition, the defense lawyer will ask the accident victims questions about how the accident happened, their medical treatment, injuries, and the overall impact of the injuries on their lives. Your lawyer will help you prepare for your deposition so that you make a good impression when the time comes.
Finally, your lawyer can represent you at all court appearances in your case. Accident victims must attend settlement conferences and jury trials in their case. Your lawyer will come with you to these court proceedings and advocate for you. If the case must go to trial or binding arbitration, your lawyer will prepare you to testify.
Speak With a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
Representing yourself in a personal injury claim is always a bad idea. Never let concerns over legal costs keep you from seeking the legal help you need. Even with contingency fees, represented claimants regularly take home more than those without lawyers.
One of the most critical steps that you can take following a serious accident is to retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer can answer all of your contingency fee agreement questions and offer you thoughtful and result-oriented legal representation from the beginning of your case until the very end. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.