Suppose you have been injured in an accident and now have financial stresses due to medical bills, treatment, recovery costs, lost wages, and more. In that case, you need to hire professional legal representation to obtain compensation for your losses. You also have the common mistaken belief that good personal injury lawyers want thousands of dollars “up-front” to take on your case.
The good news is that this is not commonly the situation at all. In most of these personal injury cases, the lawyers agree to fight the case for you and obtain their fee on a “contingency basis.”
Simply, this means that the fees you pay your personal injury lawyer is contingent, or depends, upon them recovering money for your damages from the insurance company or sued party. If they cannot recover money on your behalf, you owe them nothing.
The law firm would advance all litigation costs, as needed, to fight for you in your personal injury case. If they are successful, and often are, and recover money, the law firm would get paid back for any “out-of-pocket” expenses from the final settlement.
Simply put, you would incur no out-of-pocket expenses to hire their firm and represent you as your personal injury lawyers. This fee structure commonly is the same for any type of personal injury lawsuit, whether it be a car accident, slip & fall, work injury, head injury, etc.
Suppose you or a loved one has incurred a personal injury due to the negligence of another party (whether it be an individual, corporation, business, etc.). In that case, it’s vital that an experienced Houston personal injury attorney professionally represents you.
In many cases, your lawyer is critical and commonly means the difference between maximum compensation and settling for far less than you deserve and, more importantly, need.
If I Don’t Pay “Up-Front,” How Does My Personal Injury Lawyer Get Paid?
No matter what side of a personal injury lawsuit you find yourself in (as the plaintiff or the defendant), there are several ways that your lawyer will get paid for their services.
In litigating personal injury cases, lawyers and their clients commonly have a reasonable amount of freedom when finalizing a fee arrangement. Payment is frequently dictated by which side of the issue your lawyer represents: the plaintiff (the injured person bringing the claim) or the defendant (the person who is alleged to have caused the injury).
If you are the plaintiff, many lawyers practicing personal injury law will receive payment under the previously mentioned “contingency fee” agreement. Commonly, this fee amounts to a specific percentage (usually around 33%) of the amount recovered in compensation in the personal injury settlement or court judgment.
“Contingency fee” arrangements are usually relatively straightforward; there are several variations, however, such as:
- Mixed hourly/contingent – Your lawyer receives a reduced hourly rate for work completed, even if you lose your case. However, your lawyer may receive a “bonus” contingent on winning or settling the case.
- Sliding scale contingency is like a straight contingency fee arrangement, except the fee percentage may be on a sliding scale. This “sliding scale” commonly depends on if your case is settled before being filed, must be filed but settles out of court, or goes all the way through to trial.
- Contingency hourly – Also like a contingency fee arrangement, but your lawyer doesn’t get paid unless funds are obtained. The difference is that the fee your lawyer receives depends on the amount of time they spend working on your case. This type of arrangement is the least likely to be used in a personal injury case.
Also, if you are the plaintiff, your initial consultation is free. You and your experienced, knowledgeable Houston personal injury lawyer will go over all the details of your case and decide the best legal path you should take.
How Will My Personal Injury Lawyer Get Paid If I Am the Defendant?
If you are the defendant (the one being sued), then many fee arrangements are paid by your lawyers’ billable hours. Hourly billing is simple, and many lawyers use various forms of modified hourly fee arrangements, such as:
Retainer – You “hire” your lawyer and pay them a lump sum payment up-front, which is kept in a particular bank account separate from the firm’s account. Your lawyer bills by the hour and subtracts funds from the retainer as work is completed.
Blended hourly – If you have more than one lawyer working on your case, the hourly rate may be a blend of a less-experienced attorney’s lower hourly rate and a more experienced attorney’s higher rate.
There are more, but whether you’re the injured party, or being sued, getting professional representation will prove to be invaluable. Your experienced lawyer will undoubtedly get you more compensation if you are the plaintiff and help you pay less (or nothing) if you are the defendant.
How Does My Lawyer Determine a “Contingency Fee?”
As explained, contingency fees are a percentage of the amount recovered for you in a settlement or personal injury award. This percentage commonly ranges between 30 to 40 percent but can be less or more depending on when a settlement is reached or never reached, but an award is won at trial.
Under Texas statutes, the exact contingency fee percentage or how much of a portion and at what point in the case will be used must be determined before your case can begin. This contingency fee agreement must be in writing, agreed to, and signed by you.
The percentage that your personal injury attorney will earn (and they will earn it) will usually increase the further into the case a settlement is reached. For example, the lowest percentage is warranted if a settlement is reached before a lawsuit is filed.
No matter what the percentage, your qualified and professional personal injury lawyer will be compensated fairly. Your lawyer’s expertise, value, and ability to get you the total amount you deserve always outweigh their fee.
I Need To Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer; How Should I Proceed?
If you’ve been injured due to the fault of another’s negligence, you need only to be concerned with your recovery. All personal injury lawyers will have the same fee structures but not the same experience, empathy, professionalism, or aggressive attitude for fighting and winning your case. The Houston-based Law Firm of Schechter, Shaffer, & Harris have over one hundred years of combined experience and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for their personal injury clients. Consult with them first, and get the personal empathetic commitment and compensation you and your family rightfully deserve.