The short answer is it should not cost anything for you to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Personal injury law firms work on contingency fee agreements. In a contingency fee agreement, your attorney is only paid if you are awarded damages. In most other types of law, attorneys are not compensated based on results, due to ethical concerns.
In criminal cases, defendants retain experienced criminal defense attorneys based on experienced and the difficulty or complexity in defending the case. Criminal defense fees are paid out of pocket by those facing criminal charges or their family, which are typically flat fees or value based fees. In business law, lawyers are paid for the service of exposing or minimizing liability, depending on the party represented. In family law, litigants typically pay family law attorneys by the hour for work performed on their case and deposit funds into the attorney’s trust account to cover the cost of representation.
However, in personal injury law, the lawyer is motivated directly by the outcome of the case. Personal injury attorneys receive a portion or percentage of the damages or award in the personal injury or car accident case. The money or damages recovered for personal injury or car accident litigants typically comes in the form of property damage, medical bills, injury compensation, pain and suffering, and lost economic opportunity, i.e. wages or income. The money is intended to return the person to their normal lifestyle, i.e. cover medical bills, lost wages, and the cost or repairs. However, some costs such as permanent injuries or disfigurement or lost employment opportunities cannot be recovered so easily.
Therefore, personal injury lawyers and their clients make a contingent fee agreement so the client does not have to pay for legal services, unless they receive compensation from a jury verdict or a settlement.
Contingency Fee Agreements Explained
A contingency fee agreement is when your personal injury lawyer agrees in writing that you as the client will not have to pay any attorney fees, lawyer fees, or costs of litigation, unless you win at jury trial or accept a settlement. In return for the benefit of competent personal injury attorney representation, your injury lawyer will get a percentage of the damages in your lawsuit. However, if your recover nothing in your personal injury lawsuit or car accident lawsuit, the lawyer receives nothing and you do not owe your attorney any money.
Lawyer fees in a contingency fee agreement are contingent, based upon, your recover of damages. Your personal injury attorney will receive a percentage of your recovery. The contingency fee is typically 33 percent to 40 percent of your award; however, this amount fluctuates based on the facts of your case and the difficulty in handling the case. Contingency agreements allow those that cannot afford to hire counsel to have competent representation when they have been injured as the result of someone’s negligence.
Get it in Writing
The majority of a dispute between personal injury lawyers and their clients are based on the amount of money the attorney will receive out of your settlement or verdict in your personal injury case. It is important that you obtain a signed copy of your contingency fee agreement from your personal injury lawyer and save it somewhere safe.
The signed agreement will lay out the fee structure in your case as well as the communication between you and your attorney during the case, the potential outcomes and timeline in your case, and how the attorney-client relationship is terminated.
Clear Communication with Your Attorney
One major benefit of a signed agreement is clarity between the client and the personal injury attorney regarding compensation, communication, scheduling appointments, and openness about how both parties perceive success in the relationship. When it comes to settlement or judgment in a personal injury trial, your contingency agreement will answer your questions about how and when the judgement or settlement will be divided.
Other Considerations for Contingency Agreement
The following is not an exhaustive list; however, you may want to ask questions about these points, if they are not included in your personal injury contingency fee agreement:
- How will your personal injury attorney’s fee be paid;
- What attorney will handle your case;
- How can you communicate with your injury attorney;
- What can terminate your attorney-client relationship;
Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Fierce Advocates for Personal Injury Victims
Facing the costs and difficulties associated with a personal injury case can be overwhelming. The costs of retaining experienced personal injury representation should not be part of your stress. We hope this article has answered most of your questions about fee agreements in personal injury cases. At Cannon & Associates, we do not get paid on personal injury or accident cases, unless you win. Whether you decide to work with us or not, we would be glad to meet with you and explain your options.
Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for personal injury and car accident victims across Oklahoma. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40. Contact Cannon & Associates by completing the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at (405) 906-4051 for a free confidential case evaluation.