Personal Injury lawyers rarely charge an hourly rate but instead charge what is called a “contingency fee.”
If you need a personal injury lawyer to represent you in California, it is very likely that you will be paying a “contingency fee” for his or her representation. This means that your legal professional's fee would be taken from the final settlement or verdict that you would receive for your claim.
If your attorney loses or is unable to obtain money on your behalf, he or she will not require any payment from you for their services.
“Contingency Fees” Affect On Settlements
In California, a common “contingency fee” percentage charged by an attorney would be 33.33% or one third of the amount of the settlement obtained or verdict awarded to you by the court.
However, a legal professional's rate can range from 25% to 75%, depending upon a number of factors. These percentages often depend on your lawyer's experience, the laws of the state you live in, whether or not your case goes to trial, as well as the complexity of your case.
When you and your lawyer agree on the percentage of a “contingency fee,” he or she will prepare the written agreement that both of you will need to sign.
After signing the retainer agreement, your lawyer will provide you with a signed copy which will include your agreed upon rate.
Why Some Personal Injury Claims Make Attorneys Cost More
In most situations, personal injury lawyers will pay all costs and expenses needed to properly handle your case and then deduct them from your settlement or verdict amount.
While many attorneys will charge 33.33% for most of their clients, there are certain situations that can alter the amount that some attorneys will require for their services.
The following are common costs associated with these claims:
- Police reports
- Filing and postage
- Investigator fees
- Expert witness fees
- Medical records fees
- Trial exhibits and depositions fees
Thus, if your attorney covered costs and expenses needed to pursue your claim, his or her final rate percentage may be between 45% to 60% of your settlement or verdict.
Moreover, your case will be more costly if it has been settled after taking the case to trial. The longer it takes to settle your claim means the more expenses you will have to endure.
The Most an Attorney Should Take
An attorney's rate is often negotiated and, as mentioned above, will depend on the time your claim takes to settle—the complexity, and the costs and expenses associated with your claim.
In California, the typical maximum rate is 40% if your case was settled before going to trial. However, a lower fee percentage can be negotiated with some attorneys.
Every claim is different, and the “Contingency fee” percentage that your claim will require depends on many different factors, but anything more than 55% is usually exorbitant.
When negotiating a “contingency fee” with a personal injury attorney, it is essential to remember that the skills and the reputation of your lawyer are very important.
A more experienced and well-respected legal professional, who charges more than the standard rate, may be able to recover a higher settlement than a less experienced attorney who charges 33.33% for their services.
These cases do not have a set minimum or maximum settlement amount and the settlement amount depends on the extent and nature of your injuries such as the amount of time your injury is expected to last as well as the amount of economic damages you have endured.
If you are trying to figure out how much your claim is worth, we recommend that you contact personal injury attorney Timothy J. Ryan for a free consultation.
Tim has helped injury victims recover more than $1 billion since 1981 from his office at Beach and Warner in Huntington Beach, CA. He has a no win, no fee promise and there is no obligation to retain.