Getting hurt in any accident that results in serious personal injury is bad enough. But, on top of that, many injured victims cannot go back to work and have to deal with seemingly never-ending medical expenses. Putting your life back together is not easy when you have money troubles and hiring a lawyer just seems impossible.
It’s simply difficult for many injured victims to come up with the money needed in advance to hire a personal injury lawyer. On the other hand, having a lawyer working on your case will help ensure that you obtain fair financial compensation to cover your losses. But how can you possibly pay for a lawyer if you do not have money?
Fortunately, lawyers who focus on injury and accident cases utilize an alternative payment arrangement in which clients do not need to pay them anything to start a claim. Rather, they will take their professional fees from the client’s court award or settlement. This is known as the contingency fee agreement, and it has proven to be immensely beneficial for lawyers and clients alike.
What Exactly Is a Contingency Fee Agreement?
When you have a contingency fee arrangement with a personal injury lawyer, the lawyer agrees to represent you and handle your case without getting paid for their services. You will only pay your lawyer after your case has been resolved and has secured monetary compensation for your damages. The compensation could come from a court verdict after winning your lawsuit or an out-of-court settlement from an insurance provider.
Put simply, your lawyer’s fee is contingent or dependent upon the favorable outcome of your personal injury case. This also means that it’s in your lawyer’s best interest to handle your case effectively since their payment depends on them securing fair compensation for you. You can rest easy knowing that your lawyer will do all that they possibly can to ensure a high and fast settlement offer.
Before signing the contingency agreement, however, ask the lawyer questions. The lawyer should have no issues explaining everything to you until you understand all the agreement's terms.
What are Legal Costs, and How Do I Pay Them?
We’ve already established that you won’t need to pay your lawyer’s fee up-front. However, it is also vital to understand that you will need to pay for legal costs, which cover expenses related to investigating and filing your case, among others. In most contingency fee arrangements, the lawyer pays for all the legal costs as they arise. These costs will come out of any compensation the attorney recovers, in addition to the contingency fee. These legal costs typically include:
Expert Witness Fees
This is undoubtedly the most significant expense in personal injury cases. Depending on the expert witness’s experience, they may charge a couple of hundred dollars per hour to thoroughly review a case, create their report, and testify in court. Expert witness fees could range from a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands, particularly if a case requires multiple expert witnesses.
Most, if not all, personal injury cases that go to trial will require an expert witness. Plaintiffs will need to present and prove the cause of their injuries, which laypeople don’t know how to do. Plus, court guidelines only recognize testimony from experts in their fields.
However, very few individuals possess the qualifications to serve as expert witnesses and the skills to explain complex scientific and technical concepts so that the jury can easily understand them. These are mainly the reasons why expert witness fees charge so much.
These usually include the complaint filing fee, costs to pay the jurors’ daily stipend (if the case moves to trial), and costs to serve the complaint and summons to the defendant. Also, if you need a copy of the court testimonies, you will need to pay for the transcript copy. In general, a transcript copy is priced per page, which could cost between $2 and $4, so a daylong testimony copy could easily cost several hundred dollars.
All cases will need certain administrative work, including copying files, postage, legal research, travel, and creating exhibits for the trial. In short and straightforward personal injury cases, which do not require extensive research and evidence, the administrative fees may not even reach $1,000. On the other hand, in cases that last for a couple of years, administrative fees could reach several thousand dollars.
Expenses for Information Gathering and Investigations
These expenses are usually minimal since you can get police reports and medical records for free or for a small fee. But if a case requires special and extensive research and investigation, like hiring a researcher from out-of-state or using the services of a private investigator, these expenses could be significant.
Depositions entail taking sworn testimonies, which will require the services of a stenographer to ensure the accurate recording of the depositions. The party that requested the deposition should pay for the stenographer’s fee and a copy of the deposition transcript. Depending on how many depositions are needed and how long the sessions take, these could cost several hundred dollars or more.
Don’t Let Your Financial Problems Stop You From Speaking to a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a family member were involved in an accident that caused injuries and other serious losses, do not hesitate to discuss your case with a lawyer. Find a skilled personal injury lawyer who offers free initial case reviews and works on a contingency fee arrangement. You may be having financial troubles now, but working with an experienced lawyer will help make certain that you recover the compensation you legally deserve