What You Need to Know About Contingency Fees & Your Personal Injury Claim
Pursuing compensation after an accident will be one of the most important things you do. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can put you in the best position to get the money you need and deserve.
How much does an attorney cost? It depends. Most personal injury lawyers in Texas work on a contingency fee basis. In very simple terms, this means that you don’t pay the attorney unless they recover money on your behalf. The attorney’s fee is contingent on – or dependent upon – the success of your case.
Why Do Attorneys Work on a Contingency Basis?
Life after an accident can be tough. Attorneys understand that money is probably tight. You’ve got medical bills that are adding up every day. If your injury keeps you from working, a sudden loss of income can make things worse.
We don’t want money to stand in the way of asking for the help that you need. By working on a contingency fee basis, we essentially bet on ourselves. When we accept your case, we’re confident that we can recover money on your behalf. It’s then, and only then, that we will get paid for our hard work. If we don’t secure a settlement offer or a jury award, you pay us nothing. It’s that simple.
Who is Responsible For Fees When I Hire a No Win, No Fee Attorney?
Not all attorneys operate under the same fee schedule. Every firm has a unique way to charge clients and collect a fee. Just because an attorney advertises themselves as “no win, no fee” doesn’t necessarily mean that litigating your case will be free of charge. If you’ll be responsible for any costs, your attorney has to tell you.
There are costs inherent in litigating any personal injury case. There are administrative fees in the law office (e.g., filing, copying, typing), court costs, and other miscellaneous expenses (e.g., investigators, expert witnesses, etc.).
Before you hire an attorney, ask them who will ultimately be responsible for these costs. Are these expenses something you’ll have to cover while your case is in progress? Will the firm cover the costs and fees? Do you have to cover these costs if your case isn’t successful? What about if you win? Will case expenses be deducted from your financial recovery?
Don’t hesitate to ask questions during a free consultation with a Texas personal injury lawyer. The more information you have, the better.
How Much Does a Contingency Fee Lawyer Cost?
It depends. Generally speaking, the average personal injury lawyer will agree to take your case in exchange for between 30 and 40 percent of the money you get. But again, all attorneys are different.
A lot of different factors can influence how much a lawyer will charge for their services:
- Geographic location
- Years of experience
- Years of experience in this practice year
- Case complexity or degree of difficulty
- Size of the law firm, or
- Projected value of your recovery or settlement.
You should probably expect to pay more for a lawyer in a city with a lot of experience than a new law school grad in a small rural town. The specific circumstances of your case can make a difference, too.
Will the Fee Be Based on My Gross Award or Net Award?
There are two ways to calculate an attorney’s fee: based on your gross award or net award. Your gross award is the amount of money you accept to settle your case, or the award extended to you by a judge or jury. Your net award is your compensation after case-related costs and expenses are deducted. How your attorney’s fee is calculated can affect how much money you walk away with when your case is over.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you agree to accept $100,000 to settle your Texas car accident lawsuit. You’ve agreed to pay your attorney 30 percent of your award. Here’s what you’ll pay and what you’ll walk away with, assuming there are $10,000 in case-related expenses.
Gross Award: You agreed to pay your lawyer 30 percent of the gross award. So, your lawyer will get 30 percent right off the top, before expenses are factored in. Their fee will be $30,000. That will leave $70,000 for you. However, what happens to the court costs and fees? That depends on the agreement you had with the lawyer. The firm might absorb those costs, or you might be responsible for them now that you’ve won your case.
Net Award: You agreed to pay your lawyer 30 percent of the net award. So, the $10,000 in expenses will be taken off the top. That leaves you with a net award of $90,000. Your attorney will then get 30 percent – or $27,000. Since expenses have already been taken care of, you’ll walk away with $73,000.
Remember, you’re interviewing an attorney during a free consultation. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and find out what their contingency fee really means for you. When you do sit down and sign a retainer agreement, the details of the contingency fee have to be stated in writing. You must