The cost of an attorney should never prevent you from getting the help you need after an accident. That’s why most Los Angeles personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means there’s no fee unless they win your case.
Even though there’s no fee until you win, you’re probably still wondering what it will cost to hire an injury attorney. The truth is that it depends. A lot of different factors can influence how much you’ll pay to have an experienced personal injury attorney handle your case.
What’s the Average Contingency Fee in a Personal Injury Case?
What exactly is a contingency fee? Simply put, it means that an attorney’s compensation depends on the outcome of your case. If you secure a settlement or award, your attorney gets paid. If you get nothing, your attorney gets nothing. (However, some attorneys may still require you to pay for court costs and the expenses associated with your case, regardless of the outcome.)
Your attorney’s fee will typically be a percentage of the settlement or award you receive. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about what an attorney must charge. However, most personal injury lawyers will agree to represent you for between 30 and 40 percent of your financial recovery.
What Can Influence an Attorney’s Contingency Fee?
So, will your attorney take 30 percent or 40 percent of your award? The answer can depend on a lot of different factors. These might include:
- The type of personal injury case you have
- Case complexity or degree of difficulty
- Attorney’s years of experience
- Geographic location
- Size of the firm, and
- Projected settlement or award.
You should probably expect to pay an attorney with decades of experience in an urban area more than you’d pay a new law school graduate who’s practicing in a rural community. However, every law firm is different. You’ll need to speak directly with an attorney and ask them about their fee structure.
Will You Be Responsible For Court Costs and Other Fees?
When you interview an attorney, you’ll need to ask if there are any hidden costs or expenses that you’ll be responsible for. Who pays court costs and filing fees? What about administrative costs such as filing or copying? Who is responsible for expenses related to experts who may be critical to your case? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about how much it’ll cost to hire an attorney and pursue compensation.
Will The Attorney’s Fee Come From the Gross Award or Net Award?
Don’t hesitate to ask this question when discussing your attorney’s proposed fee. You might be surprised at how the answer could affect how much you pay for an attorney. Here’s why.
Your gross award is the full settlement or award you receive for your injuries. No costs or expenses are deducted. Your net award is the settlement or award after all related costs and expenses (other than your attorney’s fee) are taken out.
Let’s say you accept a settlement of $100,000 for injuries you sustained in a Los Angeles car accident. Here’s how different fee structures could affect what you pay an attorney and how much you take home.
- Attorney fee is 40 percent of the gross award. Your attorney will receive $40,000 right off the top, leaving you with $60,000.
- Attorney fee is 40 percent of the net award. Let’s say it costs $20,000 to litigate your case, leaving you with a net award of $80,000. Your attorney’s share of that award is $32,000. Once that fee is deducted, you’re left with $48,000.
It seems like you get more when your attorney takes his or her fee from the gross award, right? However, you’ll need to factor in court costs and expenses. If you’re responsible for the $20,000 it took to litigate your case, then your award drops down to $40,000. As you can see, the way your attorney’s fee is structured will affect how much you pay.