What Percentage Do Most Personal Injury Lawyers Charge?

What Percentage Do Most Personal Injury Lawyers Charge?When individuals are injured in accidents, they may feel overwhelmed and uncertain about their legal options. In addition, the financial burden of medical expenses and repair bills can add to their distress. Fortunately, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can provide a means to recover these costs if another party is at fault for the accident.

While some folks may hesitate to seek legal assistance due to concerns about high hourly rates, it’s important to note that personal injury law firms typically operate under a different fee structure. The specific percentage taken by personal injury lawyers varies depending on the unique circumstances of each case.

How much will it cost you to hire a personal injury attorney?

The answer is not straightforward.

In the legal industry, most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This means they only receive a portion of the settlement or verdict if they succeed in obtaining compensation for the client. The percentages for contingency fees can vary widely, and there may be additional costs outlined in the contract you sign.

At Phelan Petty, we are upfront about these costs and fees, and make it a point to review them with our clients. It’s important to us that the people we help understand what our fees are from the start. But not every law firm functions like we do. So today, we want to delve into the details of lawyer fees, including different fee arrangements, factors influencing costs, and state-imposed limitations on attorney charges.

Potential fee structures for lawyers

Contingent fees are the most common fee arrangement in personal injury cases. Under this arrangement, your lawyer agrees to a fixed percentage (typically around 25%-40%) of the money you recover. If you don’t recover any money through a verdict or settlement, you won’t owe your lawyer any payment for their work on your case. Contingent fees are advisable for challenging cases or when upfront payment is not feasible. However, if you have a highly winnable case and the financial means, alternative fee arrangements may be more cost-effective.

Besides contingent fees, there are other fee arrangements:

  • Hourly rate. Outside of personal injury cases, the most common fee arrangement is an hourly rate. Lawyers charge an hourly rate for their services and provide clients with billing statements documenting the work completed and the time spent, usually on a monthly basis.
  • Flat fees. Some lawyers charge a fixed fee to handle certain cases, typically straightforward and predictable ones such as bankruptcy or will preparation. Although uncommon, personal injury cases may also be handled for a flat fee.
  • Statutory fees. Some states have regulations or statutes that set the maximum amount an attorney can charge for specific services. For example, fees for workers’ compensation attorneys are set by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Social Security Administration sets the total amount of costs an attorney can charge for disability claims.
  • Free legal services. Certain organizations offer free or pro bono legal services, usually for individuals with incomes below 125% of the federal poverty level.
  • Retainer fees. A retainer fee, also known as a deposit, is an upfront payment made by the client. The attorney places the retainer fee in a trust account and withdraws money as they perform work. Any remaining amount in the trust account after the legal representation concludes must be returned to the client. Retainer fees can be part of any of the above fee arrangements.

How can I save money?

To keep attorney fees down, you can:

  • Request a written fee agreement to avoid surprises or misunderstandings.
  • Provide comprehensive and honest answers to your lawyer’s questions to prevent time wasted on addressing discrepancies.
  • Respond promptly to your lawyer’s communications to avoid unnecessary follow-ups.
  • Consider small claims court if applicable, as the filing fee is typically lower and representation by an attorney is not mandatory.
  • Explore mediation or arbitration as alternatives to trial.
  • Keep phone calls with your attorney concise.
  • Carefully review your bills and dispute any inaccuracies.

Each state requires attorney fees to be “reasonable” based on factors such as time and labor required, the complexity of the legal issue, and any time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances. Some states have specific laws that further limit the fees attorneys can charge, often applicable to particular types of legal services like bankruptcy proceedings.

In Virginia, once the reasonableness of attorney fees is assessed, courts also examine whether all the fees were necessary. If a claim, defense, motion, or attorney action is deemed “frivolous, spurious, or unnecessary,” the court has the discretion to deduct/reduce such fees.

When seeking a personal injury attorney in Richmond, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the contingency fee arrangement and its implications for your case. Taking the time to conduct thorough research and compare various lawyers will enable you to identify the attorney who will diligently advocate for your interests and strive to secure the compensation you are entitled to. At Phelan Petty, we fight to ensure the best compensation for you, and we won’t ask a penny from you until we are sure that you have the restitution you deserve. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your options, call us or use our contact page. We proudly serve clients throughout Virginia.