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Each year, more than 150,000 Americans lose their lives as a result of injury. 3 million more US citizens suffer non-fatal injuries. Globally, injury is responsible for over 5 million deaths annually.
If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of someone else’s fault, one of the things you may want to do is seek compensation. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help significantly boost your odds of winning a fair settlement from the at-fault party.
One of the major things you’ll talk about with your prospective personal injury attorney is cost. So, how can you effectively handle matters regarding costs, so you avoid friction between you and your attorney?
In this comprehensive guide, we inform you all you need to know about personal injury lawyer cost. Read on to learn more.
Understanding the Difference Between Fees and Costs
To many people, there’s no difference between costs and fees. But in the legal world, there’s a huge difference between the two.
The term fee generally refers to the money your attorney will charge for handling your personal injury case. For instance, most personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee. This fee is a percentage of the amount of money you receive as compensation after winning your case.
Costs refer to expenses for other things in litigation besides what you pay your attorney for handling your case. The largest and commonest costs in personal injury lawsuits include:
Court costs may include the fee you pay when filing your case, the daily stipend jurors receive if your case ends up in court, the cost of serving the summons to the defendant, and so on. You may also pay for copies of the transcript if interested in having a copy of the in-court testimony.
Expert Witness Costs
Besides the fees you pay your injury accident attorney, expert witness costs will most likely be the biggest expense in your case. Most expert witnesses charge hundreds of dollars per hour for reviewing a case, preparing expert reports, and showing up in court to testify. The costs can add up to thousands of dollars in a single personal injury case.
Keep in mind that expert witness costs are unavoidable once your case ends up in a trial. You’ll need one or more expert witnesses to provide technical arguments, including the cause of your injury. Court rules don’t allow anybody who’s not an expert to make such presentations.
Every court case requires certain administrative expenses. You’ll need to pay for copying, postage, legal research, travel, and so on. In simple personal injury cases, these costs aren’t too high. You may only need to pay a few hundred dollars if your case takes a relatively short time.
A deposition refers to the taking of testimony on the record. The testimony is typically sworn by witnesses, with a stenographer taking a record of what’s said. Generally, the party that requests a deposition has to pay for the stenographer and a copy of the transcript.
You may need to pay for police reports and medical records, as well as for any special investigation that you feel can help your case. Depending on how much research you feel is necessary, these costs can add up.
Contingency Fee Agreements
In most cases, it’s a huge challenge for victims of personal injury to raise the money needed to pay a personal injury attorney in advance. It’s also difficult to afford paying an attorney per hour throughout the course of the injury claim and lawsuit.
Thankfully, most personal injury attorneys take on cases without requiring clients to pay them upfront. Instead, they take a portion of your court award or final settlement. As we mentioned earlier, this type of payment is referred to as a contingency agreement.
So, how much should you expect to pay your attorney? The contingency fee you pay is a good reflection of the fact that the attorney is taking a huge risk by charging you nothing upfront. That percentage for most attorneys may range anywhere between 33 percent and 40 percent of what your lawyer gets you as compensation.
Keep in mind that you’ll also need to pay for the expenses of the case. By the time everything is subtracted, you’ll take home a figure that’s much less than the insurance company paid you. Keep in mind that you can always negotiate the contingency fee you’ll need to pay your lawyer.
Does It Make Sense to Pay Contingency Fees?
Before starting to look for the best personal injury lawyer for your case, you’ll need to determine whether the economics of your injury or claim is worthwhile to hire an attorney. If the at-fault party’s insurer is refusing to pay you, but the damages in your claim are substantial, then hiring an attorney on a contingency fee makes much sense. There’s much to gain and nothing to lose.
However, if the claim you’re making is small, then you may opt to handle your case without an attorney. You may even opt to represent yourself in arbitration or a small claims court. Ultimately, the decision you make depends on how comfortable you feel handling matters without legal representation.
In cases where the insurance company has already agreed to pay you a substantial compensation amount, consider whether it’s worth paying an attorney 33 percent if they can only get you an additional 20 percent of what you’ve already been offered. However, if the attorney is confident that they can win you compensation that’s large enough to overcome their fees, then they are worth hiring.
Hire the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
When it comes to personal injury cases, working with the right personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in the world. Be sure to balance the costs of your personal injury claim with the amount you can potentially recover. Part of doing so is making sure that the cost of your legal representation can produce a considerable return on investment.
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