Injury lawyers usually charge a contingency fee. Some clients misinterpret a contingency fee to mean they get a lawyer for free.
This understanding is not correct. But you will usually not pay out of pocket for a personal injury lawyer. Instead, your lawyer will take a percentage of your settlement or verdict as compensation.
Below, you will learn how contingency fees work and how much a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer costs.
How Contingency Fees Work
Legal fees take a few different forms, including hourly fees, flat fees, and contingency fees.
A contingency fee means you do not pay a fixed amount to the lawyer for representing you and handling your case. Instead, you pay a fee based on the outcome of your case by sharing the injury compensation you receive with your lawyer.
Contingency fees are usually given as a percentage. This percentage represents the share of your compensation the lawyer will take from your award as payment for their services. For example, suppose that a lawyer charges you a 35% contingency fee and recovers $20,000. The lawyer will receive $7,000 (in legal fees) out of the $20,000.
Legal Fees to Hire a St. Petersburg Injury Lawyer
A typical contingency fee falls between 30% and 40%. Under the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers must charge a reasonable fee.
But the reasonableness of the fee depends on many factors, including:
- The lawyer’s experience, skill, and reputation
- The difficulty of the issues in your case
- The customary fee charged in St. Petersburg for the same work
- The amount of work required and whether the lawyer must turn down other cases to work on your case
These factors mean you will probably pay a higher percentage for a more experienced lawyer.
For example, suppose that you hire a lawyer with 20 years of experience and 50 trials involving truck accidents to handle your claim against a trucking company. In that case, you will probably pay for the lawyer’s high level of skill and knowledge. But if you hire someone fresh out of law school, you will probably pay a lower fee.
Lawyers may also charge a higher fee when they need to litigate a case (as opposed to settling outside of court). Thus, some personal injury attorneys in St. Petersburg will quote a contingency fee of 33% if the case settles before filing a lawsuit. But the fee increases to 38% if the lawyer must file a lawsuit to get compensation for you.
Finally, more difficult cases might involve greater fees. Lawyers who focus on niche areas, like defective medical devices, might have medical and legal knowledge particular to these kinds of cases.
Also, complex cases require more investigation, expert witnesses, and time. As a result, lawyers will often charge a higher fee for certain types of cases.
Benefits of Contingency Fees for Clients
Injury lawyers charge a contingency fee because most accident victims do not have the resources to hire a lawyer based on an hourly or flat fee.
If you hire a lawyer for a flat fee, you must usually pay at least some of the fee upfront for the lawyer to take the case. Most accident victims have their resources tied up in medical costs associated with their injuries. Often accident victims cannot work while injured. As a result, they are paying doctors money but don’t have wages coming in.
When you hire a lawyer for an hourly fee, your legal fees can spiral out of control. A case the lawyer originally thought might settle in a few months might take a year of litigation. In the meantime, an hourly lawyer will expect you to pay a legal bill every month.
Contingency fees provide several benefits over flat fees and hourly fees, including:
No Money Upfront
Since the fee only gets calculated at the end of the case, a contingency fee lawyer can start on your case without any upfront fees.
No Fees for a Loss
Injury lawyers sometimes tell clients that 35% of $0 is $0. This means the lawyer gets no fee if the lawyer cannot recover any injury compensation for you. A contingency fee lawyer only gets paid a fee when you get paid.
Since the lawyer earns a larger fee if you get greater compensation, the lawyer will work hard to maximize what you receive.
Early Case Assessment
Contingency fee lawyers take a risk when they accept a case. They could put hundreds of hours of work into a case before knowing the fee they receive. If the case has a low value or the lawyer cannot win, the lawyer will have done that work for free.
As a result, lawyers only accept contingency fee cases they think they can win. Before accepting your case, a lawyer will assess the case carefully.
Other Costs to Hire a St. Petersburg Injury Lawyer
Your contingency fee will not cover all the costs involved in your case. The lawyer will probably pay some expenses associated with your case and expect you to reimburse those costs at the end of the case.
These litigation costs include:
- Filing fees
- Court reporter costs
- Expert witness fees
Lawyers understand the difficult financial situations accidents can create. They will advance money to cover these costs because they believe in your case. But you will need to pay them back when you receive your injury compensation.
Hiring a St. Petersburg Injury Lawyer
Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, Florida requires a written agreement for all contingency fee arrangements. When you meet with an injury lawyer, ask for a copy of the lawyer’s fee agreement.
Review the agreement carefully. If you have any questions, raise them with the lawyer or hire another lawyer to review the agreement with you. Make sure you understand all the fees and costs you will pay before hiring the lawyer. To discuss the fees to handle your injury case, contact Lopez Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys for a free consultation.