One of the most common questions asked of our personal injury attorneys during initial consultations is how much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
It’s an important question to ask any personal injury attorney that you are considering hiring for your case. Most personal injury lawyers charge what is known as a contingency fee for these types of cases, and the overall cost in a contingency fee case is determined by a few different things.
At Kapuza Lighty, we explain all aspects of our contingency fee system to prospective clients throughout Yakima so they are fully informed about the costs prior to representation, and are happy to talk to you about your personal injury claims. Call the office or contact us today to learn more about the contingency fee system and what it may cost for your case.
What is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee is a payment system that allows an injury victim to hire an attorney without the need to front the costs of representation. If the case is successful and the victim wins their claim, the attorney takes a percentage of the final award as their payment as well as to cover their upfront expenses.
When you hear that an attorney will not take a penny unless you win or if they do not win you do not pay, those are contingency fee arrangements. The vast majority of personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, but it is important to ask every personal injury attorney you speak with what their contingency percentage is for a case.
Factors Affecting a Contingency Fee
In most cases, a contingency fee for an experienced personal injury attorney will run between one-third to forty percent of the overall compensation award. Certain factors affect the amount that a lawyer will take as a contingency fee, and in many cases the percentage shifts based on how your claims progress through the system.
Prior to filing a lawsuit, attorneys will typically create a demand letter and demand payment from the insurance companies for your injuries. Negotiations may take place, but if a settlement is reached quickly and without much expense a personal injury attorney typically does not take more than one-third of the overall award.
However, if it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit in order to settle your case, a personal injury attorney will typically charge between one-third and forty percent of the overall award. Cases that require filing a lawsuit require more time and expense for your attorney to handle.
And, keep in mind that this is all contingent on the victim winning their case. If the claims fail, the attorney collects nothing for their efforts. When talking to potential personal injury attorneys about your claim, be sure to get a contingency agreement in writing that explains whether there is a shifting fee structure, and if so, what the attorney will collect if the case is won.
It is important to note that Washington court rules mandate that a personal injury attorney cannot charge or collect an unreasonable fee from its clients. If a lawyer tries to take a majority portion of your settlement award as payment and for costs, you may have a claim against your attorney, as well.
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Costs Incurred During a Personal Injury Case
In addition to receiving payment for winning the case, part of a contingency fee is to cover the cost of expenses incurred by your attorney during the course of the claims. These costs are subtracted from your overall award in exchange for not needing to front the costs at the beginning of the representation. These expenses can end up costing quite a bit, especially if your case ends up going all the way to trial.
Your written representation agreement with your personal injury attorney should include information about costs and expenses associated with your case, so you have an understanding of how much might be collected for these bills. The typical costs and expenses of a personal injury case include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Expert witness fees
- Investigator fees
- Filing fees
- Court fees
- Trial exhibits, and more.
Unlike most personal injury law firms, Kapuza Lighty does not “nickel and dime” our clients and charge for “soft” costs such as photocopying, fax transactions and postage.
Payment of a Contingency Fee
If the claim is won and a settlement is reached, your attorney will receive the settlement check for your case. This ensures that your lawyer will receive payment for their efforts, and your attorney will contact you when they receive the check. At the meeting, your lawyer should go over with you how much the settlement is, the percentage deducted as a contingency fee, and any additional deductions for expenses. If you agree to the expenses and fee charged, your lawyer will deduct that amount from your settlement and transfer the rest to you.
If you have questions about how a contingency fee settlement is paid, or any other questions about contingency fee personal injury cases, our lawyers at Kapuza Lighty can talk to you about any questions you have related to your case.
Call or Contact Our Office Today
Understanding the contingency fee structure and what goes into determining your final award goes a long way in establishing trust with your attorney and feeling comfortable about your case. To learn more about how much it costs to hire a personal injury attorney in the Yakima area, call or contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at Kapuza Lighty today to schedule a free and confidential consultation about your claims.