As of 2021, it was estimated that over 400,000 personal injury cases are filed annually in the United States. These cases range from vehicular and road accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents, and actions for product liability.
Being involved in a personal injury case can entitle you to compensation and payment of damages. However, you cannot make a claim nor receive such compensation without the help of a personal injury lawyer.
The Cost Of Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
Your lawyer’s fees might be the last thing you want to think about after suffering from an accident. But hiring a personal injury lawyer can increase your chances of receiving fair compensation and ease the burden of dealing with legal procedures or negotiations on your own.
The cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer would depend on your agreement with the lawyer. In these cases, a contingency fee agreement is commonly agreed upon—which is advantageous if you don’t have money to pay a lawyer upfront. Alternatively, you and your personal injury lawyer can agree on an hourly fee.
Contingency fee agreements mean that the lawyer will only get paid if you win the case, and the fee will come from the settlement. On the other hand, an hourly fee means that you will pay your lawyer regardless of whether you win or lose the case.
Below are the typical rates for each arrangement:
- Contingency Fees: In most states, including North Carolina personal injury lawyers, contingency fees can range from 33 to 40% of the total settlement awarded. The best thing about this arrangement is that you don’t have to pay the lawyer unless the court grants you the settlement or compensation you claim.
- Hourly Fee: Most lawyers charge USD$100 to USD$500 per hour. If your personal injury case drags on, you can expect to pay more than USD$15,000 in lawyer’s fees before the case is settled.
Factors That Can Affect The Cost Of A Personal Injury Lawyer
Whether you pay your lawyer on a contingency or hourly basis, you’ll notice that the rates are not set in stone. If you ask different lawyers and firms to handle your case, you’ll find that they will give you varying rates. This is because of the following factors:
- Experience And Professional Reputation
Like any other profession, lawyers who are more experienced and have a good track record of winning cases will charge more compared to lawyers who are just starting out or those with no demonstrated history of handling personal injury cases.
However, remember that an expensive lawyer does not guarantee a settlement. While it does raise your chances of winning the case, other factors could still affect the final outcome. For example, the other party might provide strong evidence and a solid counter-argument that convinces the court to rule in their favor.
Establishing negligence and liability would require a lot of work in personal injury cases involving accidents. On top of that, your lawyer might need the assistance of other experts and witnesses to solidify your case. For that, the lawyer might charge a higher rate than the average. Additionally, controversial liability cases, especially those filed against huge corporations, would have higher rates because of the case volume alone.
This is not a problem if your lawyer agrees to take on your case on a contingency fee basis. But for those who are paying their lawyer hourly, the length of the trial or negotiations can affect the cost of having a personal injury lawyer. Since your lawyer will work on your case longer, the billable hours can rack up as the case goes on.
In most cases, lawyers will charge additional fees aside from the agreed contingency fee percentage and hourly rate. In a contingency fee arrangement, some lawyers will charge a separate fee for the costs they incur while preparing your case. This includes filing fees or court fees, the costs of laboratory tests, and finding credible expert witnesses.
For those who are paying lawyers hourly, you might be asked to pay a retainer fee first. The retainer fee is a fixed fee akin to an acceptance fee. This would generally cover the lawyer’s cost of preparing your case. However, you will still pay the lawyer by the hour if your personal injury case takes longer.
When you agree to a contingency fee arrangement, hiring a personal injury lawyer can cost literally nothing. But if you prefer to pay by the hour, you can expect to pay more than USD$15,000—excluding the retainer fee. Under a contingency fee agreement, however, you cannot get the full amount of the court-ordered settlement because the lawyer will deduct their fees from it.