Some victims of a personal injury avoid hiring a lawyer because they feel they cannot afford one. In many cases, they are mistaken, as a vast number of personal injury lawyers will only charge a contingency fee. This means that victims can hire a lawyer to represent them without paying any money up front.

When a lawyer takes on a personal injury case with a contingency fee arrangement, he or she expects to receive compensation from the proceeds of the final settlement. Their fee will be deducted before the victim receives payment. Any personal expenses will also be deducted by the lawyer before giving the victim the remainder of the settlement. How much the lawyer’s percentage of the settlement will depend largely on the case itself, and the experience of the lawyer. The following information is designed to provide personal injury victims with the knowledge they require to understand how their lawyer will be paid.

Contingency Fees

It is very common for personal injury lawyers to take on a case with a contingency fee arrangement in the form of a percentage of the final settlement amount. It is typical for the percentage to be anywhere between 33 and 40%, with most lawyers agreeing to take on a case for 33% of the settlement amount. This figure is not set in stone, however, and victims can negotiate for a lower percentage. While some states do put a cap on the contingency fee, a personal injury lawyer can charge many don’t. If your lawyer wins your case and settlement is in the figure of $90,000 the lawyer will expect to be paid $30,000, and the victim will receive the remaining $60,000.

Settlement Before Lawsuit is Filed

When a settlement is negotiated and agreed upon before a lawsuit is filed, personal injury lawyer Vancouver, said: “The lawyer is likely to receive no more than 33% of the final amount.” To begin negotiations the victim’s lawyer will send a demand letter to the guilty party outlining the wrongdoing and the amount that he or she and the victim consider fair compensation. It is very likely that the guilty party will, upon receiving such a demand letter, send a response that includes a counter offer for a lesser amount. Provided negotiations go smoothly, and a fair settlement is agreed upon there is no need for the lawyer to file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim.

Settlement After Lawsuit is Filed

When the guilty party refuses to negotiate or fails to respond to the victim’s lawyer’s demand letter it may become necessary to file a lawsuit to get compensation. The mere fact that a lawsuit has been filed may bring the guilty party to the negotiation table and settlement agreed upon without having to go to court. Whether a settlement is made before appearing in court or after the case has been heard, top ICBC injury lawyer in Vancouver said: “Expenses┬áthe victim’s lawyer may receive as much as 40% of the settlement amount.” It is important that the victim understands that the longer it takes to agree upon a settlement amount the higher the lawyer’s expenses are likely to be. This should be taken into account when considering accepting or rejecting a counter offer from the guilty party.

There are a wide variety of expenses that a lawyer may incur on behalf of his or her client before a settlement is agreed upon. Many personal injury lawyers will deduct all costs and expenses from the settlement amount, but others will expect their client to cover those costs as they are incurred. If a victim hires a lawyer, who demands compensation for costs incurred as they become due it is likely that they will not proceed with the case until they have received payment for all costs and expenses.

In a personal injury case the costs and expenses may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Acquisition of medical records and police reports
  • Fees paid to hire expert witnesses
  • Filing fees
  • Private investigator fees
  • Deposition fees
  • Postage, telephone calls, photocopying and other administrative costs

The costs and expenses can mount up over time, particularly if it takes a long time to get to trial. Depending on how long the case takes to conclude and how much work the lawyer has to do to ensure a favorable outcome, the cost of expenses plus the contingency fee could increase the percentage the lawyer receives to as high as between 45 and 60% of the settlement amount.

The Lawyer Receives the Settlement Check

The lawyer is usually the one to receive the settlement check on behalf of his or her client. He or she will then deduct the percentage fee plus any costs and expenses incurred during the pre-settlement period. The remaining amount will then be paid to the victim. As many personal injury lawyers agree to take on cases on a contingency fee basis, it is imperative that the settlement check is sent to them to ensure they get paid.

The lawyer will advise his or her client when they receive the check and then provide their client with a detailed accounting of the amount they deduct before giving the client the remainder. If a client feels that the amount deducted is unfair, they have the right to dispute the charges and the lawyer is legally bound to put the disputed amount into a trust account until the dispute is settled. This does not prevent the lawyer from providing the client with their share of the check.

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