If you’re in a car accident or slip and fall due to another party’s negligence and sustain serious injury, a personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation needed to make you whole. Medical expenses, property damage and lost wages are just a few of the financial hardships that will come your way.
If you hire a personal injury attorney to help you recoup these costs, it’s important you have a clear understanding of how your lawyer will charge you for their efforts. Having this understanding ahead of time will help ensure there are no misunderstandings when your case is over.
Most personal injury attorneys charge for their professional services in one of two ways – either on a contingency fee basis or an hourly rate.
Contingency fee is the most commonly used by attorneys, including here at our Knoxville personal injury firm. Essentially, this means that you only pay the attorney when either a monetary settlement or a judgment is obtained for your case. The final amount is typically a percentage of the final settlement. If your attorney does win your case, you will also likely need to pay any expenses the attorney incurred in the preparation of your case.
If you don’t win any kind of settlement, you will NOT be responsible for paying your attorney.
The advantage of a contingency fee of course is that if your case isn’t successful, you will not have to pay the attorney anything. Also, your personal injury attorney will motivated to obtain the best settlement possible since they will benefit as well.
One disadvantage of the contingency fee basis – you may feel your attorney doesn’t warrant such a high fee if they were able to secure a settlement quickly.
Hourly rates for personal injury cases are pretty rare but do occur.
Under this arrangement, you pay the personal injury attorney for the hours they spent working on your case, regardless of whether you obtain a settlement or not. One reason they’re typically not used in personal injury cases is that they require cash up-front at a time when most accident victims may be under financial stress.
This of course brings up the big disadvantage of an hourly rate – you pay the attorney regardless of whether you win any settlement or not.
When you’re interviewing potential personal injury attorneys around Nashville or Knoxville, be sure you have a clear understanding of their fees. If they charge on a contingency basis, have an agreed upon rate before hiring them. If they want to charge hourly, it may be a sign they think your case isn’t too strong and unlikely to bring a large settlement.
When speaking with attorneys, get them to provide you with a projected breakdown of what they expect to recover, how much of that amount will go for attorney fees/expenses, and how much will be left for your medical expenses, lost wages and more.
Also, when negotiating a contingency fee arrangement, ask whether the percentage is based on the amount before expenses are deducted (gross award), or after expenses are deducted (net judgment).
Having a clear understanding of how much a prospective personal injury attorney expects to recover, and expects you to have after everything is settled will set the right expectations for your case, and also help you better plan your recovery.