Can I Afford a Lawyer after an Accident?
Upon hearing the words “hire a lawyer,” many people instantly think of the expense of it all. After all, don't lawyers charge extremely high hourly fees for you to use their services?
Some do, and some don't. In the case of personal injury lawyers, however, many charge clients contingency fees. In their most basic form, contingency fees are what you pay to your lawyer when and if you win a monetary settlement.
For instance, say you hire a slip and fall lawyer after taking a nasty spill on an icy sidewalk that a business should have maintained but didn't. The lawyer takes on your case and fronts all the initial costs of filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer then has you sign a contract saying that you will pay such and such percentage of whatever you win.
That percentage is how your lawyer makes money.
So, can you afford a lawyer after your accident? Let's get into some specifics.
What Is That Percentage?
One question many readers probably have on their minds now is, “What percentage will I owe to a lawyer from my winnings?”
There's no telling what your specific lawyer would charge, but, in the United States, the percentage usually runs somewhere between 25% and 40%, with 33% being quite common.
A simple example of what this could look like: if you win a settlement of $100,000, your lawyer keeps $33,000, while you make $67,000.
That 33% covers the costs your lawyer already incurred in filing your case and helps the firm get paid for their work.
However, Be Aware of Different Pay Structures
Now, keep in mind that not all law firms are the same. Many personal injury firms will take back all their costs from the contingency fees, but that is not to say that all firms get paid that way.
Some law firms will have you pay directly for costs such as the fees for getting medical records, hiring expert witnesses, and paying court reporters. Your lawyer might notify you as each new payment is due, and it would be up to you to pay.
If you don't prefer this method of doing things and would rather everything be paid back to the lawyer from the eventual settlement, you can state this at the outset. If the firm doesn't work that way, you may want to move on to another legal representative.
Despite the Costs, Lawyer Can Definitely Help
You may be put off by paying such a high percentage from a settlement that is meant to be for you to recover from your injury. However, the trade-off is that your lawyer has a much better chance of securing a victory than you do as a layperson.
You can go it alone, but you will probably be confused and overwhelmed by it all. A lawyer takes the stress off of you for a cost. It is up to you to decide whether it's worth it.