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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Burnham

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

If you or someone you love have recently been involved in an accident, you are probably wondering how much personal injury lawyers cost. Finding a good personal injury lawyer that you can trust is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you get what you deserve.


Personal injury cases can be emotionally and financially overwhelming. If you've been injured due to someone else's negligence, seeking legal help is crucial for fair compensation. One common concern among potential clients is understanding the cost associated with hiring a personal injury lawyer. In this article we will explore the intricacies of personal injury lawyer costs, including contingency fees, expenses, and important considerations.


Attorney Taylor Burnham advising his client and getting to know him outside a courthouse.

Contingency Fees in Louisiana Personal Injury Claims


The majority of personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. But what does that mean for you, the client? Essentially, it implies that the attorney's fees are contingent upon winning the case. If the case is successful, the personal injury attorney receives a percentage of the compensation awarded, and if not, there is no fee.


How Contingency Fee Agreements Typically Work


Contingency fee agreements vary, but they typically outline the lawyer's fee as a percentage of the financial recovery. This arrangement is designed to make legal representation accessible to those who might not be able to afford upfront fees.


Attorney's Fee Percentage Under a Contingency Fee Agreement


The attorney's fee percentage under a contingency fee agreement can range. It is essential to discuss this upfront with your lawyer to ensure transparency. Most personal injury lawyers charge between 33% and 40%, although exact percentages can differ based on the complexity of the case. Typically, 33% represents the contingency fee percentage if the case settles before the a lawsuit is filed. This is sometimes referred to as the "pre-litigation fee" (i.e., pre-lawsuit fee). The fee increases to higher percentage, commonly 40%, once a lawsuit is filed. This is the case because once the case is in litigation, it costs more for the attorney to handle it (e.g., court costs, deposition costs, expert fees), requires more of the attorney's time, and as such, requires the attorney to take on more risk.


Who Pays Court Costs and Other Fees?


In addition to attorney's fees, there are other costs associated with a personal injury case, such as court costs, service costs, expert witness fees, and litigation expenses. Court costs include the petition filing fee and the fees incurred whenever the attorney files a motion. Service costs include money paid to the Sheriff, FedEx, or a private process server to serve a defendant or other party with a petition or motion. Experts are people like medical specialists and accident reconstructionists hired to give expert testimony at trial. If they are enlisted, of course, they are paid a fee. And litigation expenses refer to other lawsuit costs such as deposition transcript costs, which are paid to court reporters. All of these expenses are typically covered by the attorney and reimbursed from the settlement or judgment.


Receive and Read Your Contingency Fee Agreement


Before proceeding with legal representation, it is crucial to receive and carefully read the contingency fee agreement. The contingency fee agreement is the same thing as your contract. This document outlines the terms of the arrangement, ensuring you fully understand the attorney's fees and any additional costs associated with your case.


Can the Court Make the Other Party Pay My Attorneys' Fees?


In some cases, the court may order the other party to pay your attorney's fees. However, this is not a guaranteed outcome, and it depends on the specific circumstances of the case. If a case settles prior to a lawsuit, the court will not be involved so this will be an unlikely outcome.


Does Every Personal Injury Law Firm Offer a Contingency Fee?


While the majority of personal injury law firms operate on a contingency fee basis, it's essential to confirm this during your initial consultation. It's possible, depending on the specific facts of the case, that the attorney may offer to represent you on an hourly fee basis. This is a more likely situation if the attorney believes that the case is especially risky. A flat fee is another type of fee structure; however, these types of agreements are not common with personal injury lawyers. Understanding the fee structure upfront can help you make informed decisions about legal representation.


Why Do Personal Injury Lawyers Use a Contingency Fee Structure?


The contingency fee structure aligns the interests of the client and the attorney. It ensures that the lawyer is motivated to secure the highest possible compensation for the client since their fee is directly tied to the outcome of the case. Further, the arrangement allows the attorney to help those who otherwise might not be able to pay the up front costs associated with handling an injury case.


Who Pays the Expenses Incurred and When are They Paid?


Expenses incurred during a personal injury case, such as medical records, expert witness fees, and police reports, are typically covered by the attorney initially. These expenses are reimbursed from the settlement or judgment, ensuring that clients do not pay out of pocket.


Is There Another Type of Fee Arrangement that I Could Use?


While contingency fees are common, there are alternative fee arrangements, such as hourly fees, flat fees, or a combination of both. However, these are less common in personal injury cases and may not be as financially feasible for the client.


What Percentage of a Financial Recovery Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Receive?


The percentage of the financial recovery that a personal injury lawyer receives varies. As discussed , it typically ranges between 33% and 40% of the gross final settlement or final judgment recovered in your case. Discuss this with your attorney during the initial consultation to ensure transparency and clarity.


How Much do Lawyers Charge for Accident Claims?


An accident "claim" is the same thing as a personal injury case or a personal injury claim. The fees charged by lawyers for accident claims vary based on factors such as the complexity of the case, the lawyer's experience, and the geographic location. As discussed, the fees typically range between 33% and 40% on a contingency fee basis. It's essential to discuss fees with potential attorneys to understand their specific structure.


Charging of a Handling Fee by a Personal Injury Attorney


It is not uncommon for a personal injury attorney to charge a handling fee or a retainer fee. The handling fee (retainer fee) is often an amount between $100 to $300 charged to cover some of the overhead costs of the attorney.


Glasses, binders, and papers on an attorney's desk.

Be Wary of Attorneys that Charge a Low Percentage Contingency Fee like 25%


While a lower percentage may seem attractive, it's crucial to carefully evaluate the overall services offered. Quality legal representation is an investment in securing fair compensation for your injuries. Often if a deal appears to be good to be true, it probably is. I have personally taken over cases from clients that originally hired attorneys charging a 25% fee. Ultimately those clients had problems with their attorneys, could not get in touch with them, and decided to fire their attorneys. It's a good idea to check an attorney's online reviews before accepting representation, especially if the attorney claims to offer a low 25% fee.


Example of a Contingency Fee and Expense Arrangement for a Personal Injury Case


To provide a clearer picture, let's consider an example. In a typical contingency fee arrangement, a lawyer might charge 33% contingency fee percentage of the financial recovery obtained prior to the filing of a lawsuit and cover all necessary expenses upfront. If the case settles for $100,000, the lawyer's fee would be $33,000, and any reimbursable expenses would be deducted from the remaining $67,000. So if there was $5,000 in case costs (e.g., medical records, police report) and court costs (e.g., filing fees), and $10,000 in medical bills), your net settlement would be $52,000 ($67,000 - $15,000 = $52,000).


Inside of an empty courtroom.

What if There is a Dispute Between the Lawyer and the Client Over Fees?


In the rare instance of a dispute between the lawyer and the client over fees, it's essential to address the issue promptly and professionally. Most disagreements can be resolved through open communication and understanding each other's perspectives. If you find yourself in such a situation, consider the following steps:


Communication is Key:

  • Initiate an open and honest conversation with your lawyer about your concerns.

  • Clearly express the specific issues you have regarding the fees and seek clarification.

Review the Contingency Fee Agreement:

  • Refer back to the contingency fee agreement you signed at the beginning of the representation.

  • Ensure that both parties are adhering to the terms outlined in the agreement.

Mediation or Arbitration:

  • Some contingency fee agreements include provisions for mediation or arbitration in case of disputes.

  • Discuss the possibility of involving a neutral third party to help facilitate a resolution.

Legal Ethics and Bar Association:

  • If the issue persists, you may consider consulting your local bar association or legal ethics board.

  • These organizations can provide guidance on the ethical standards expected of attorneys.

Seeking Legal Advice:

  • If the dispute remains unresolved, consulting with another attorney for legal advice can be an option.

  • An impartial legal professional can offer insights into the fairness and legality of the fee arrangement.

Can Lawyers Agree to Share the Attorney Fee in a Contingency Fee agreement?


In some situations, lawyers may agree to share the attorney's fee in a contingency fee agreement, particularly when multiple attorneys or law firms collaborate on a case.

Under Rule 1.5(e) of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, (e) A division of fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:


(1) the client agrees in writing to the representation by all of the lawyers involved, and is advised in writing as to the share of the fee that each lawyer will receive;


(2) the total fee is reasonable; and


(3) each lawyer renders meaningful legal services for the client in the matter.


Fee-sharing agreements can be beneficial in fostering collaboration among legal professionals and ensuring that clients receive comprehensive representation. However, it's crucial to navigate these agreements with transparency, adherence to ethical standards, and client consent.


How Much Do Lawyers Take from Settlements in Texas and Georgia?


Legal regulations and fee structures can vary by state. In Texas and Georgia, as in many other states, personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis. The exact percentage may vary, but similarly, usually falls between 33% and 40% depending on when the cases concludes (pre-suit vs. lawsuit) so it's essential to discuss this with potential attorneys.


Who Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?


Anyone who has suffered injuries due to someone else's negligence should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. And if you are located in New Orleans, make sure you hire an experienced New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney. Whether it's a car accident, workplace injury, or other incidents, legal help can ensure fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


Two cars involved in a head-on collision accident in New Orleans, Louisiana.

What a Personal Injury Lawyer Does for Their Client


Personal injury lawyers play a crucial role in navigating the legal complexities of a case. They gather evidence, investigate the claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, take the case to court in order to secure fair compensation.


Taking Your Case to Court if Necessary


While many personal injury cases are settled out of court, your attorney should be prepared to take your case to court if necessary. This willingness to go to trial can impact the negotiation process and strengthen your position. Make sure to hire a personal injury attorney, like Taylor Burnham, that has experience in the courtroom and is willing to take your case to court if the insurance companies won't do the right thing and pay what is fair and just.


Attorney Taylor Burnham leaving the courthouse after winning a trial.

Recoverable Damages Personal Injury Lawyers Seek Fair Compensation For


Personal injury lawyers seek fair compensation for various damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses incurred due to the injury. Understanding these recoverable damages is essential for determining the overall value of your case.


In conclusion, understanding how much a personal injury lawyer costs involves considering contingency fees, other associated expenses, and the specific fee structure agreed upon. It's crucial to discuss these aspects with potential attorneys during the initial consultation to make informed decisions about legal representation. If you have more questions about personal injury cases or want a free case evaluation, call Taylor Burnham and the Burnham Law Firm directly at (504) 358-0008.


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