If you have been seriously injured because of another person’s extreme negligence, you are going to need a solid personal injury attorney that will fight to get you the appropriate compensation you deserve. Sounds good right?
Of course, you are probably wondering how you would afford it. Even though finding an affordable lawyer can be like finding a needle in a haystack, there is some good news if you are hurting and cannot provide for your family because of your injuries.
The good news is that the answer to the question of whether a personal injury lawyer will work on your case based on a contingency fee basis is a solid “Yes”.
However, it is still important that you understand the process.
Understanding what a “contingency” basis means
Your first step is to understand what a contingency fee is and what it isn’t. If you contract with a lawyer who is willing to work on this type of basis, what it usually means is that they will take a significant chunk of your settlement money if you win your personal injury case.
The usual amount for a winning personal injury case would be 33% to 40%. Of course, this would lead to other questions.
Here are some you might have:
What happens if you lose the case?
If you lose your case, you will not owe your lawyer anything for the hard work they put in regarding your case.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will owe your lawyer nothing at all.
You must realize that most contingency fee personal injury lawyers will expect you to at least pay them for the administrative costs they incurred while working on your personal injury claim.
Be sure to properly budget for your lawyer’s personal costs and be ready to pay him even if the outcome is not in your favor.
What happens if you win the case?
Winning the case is definitely a good thing. However, after you are finished celebrating your winning outcome, you now have a new set of challenges to consider, mainly that you will have to pay the lawyer’s cut.
In this case, the old analogy of “what would happen if the dog actually catches the car” comes into play.
What do you do if you disagree with the lawyer’s high contingency fees? There is some good news regarding that as well.
How to negotiate with your lawyer regarding your contingency fees, part 1
Do it before he or she takes the case.
Unfortunately, if your attorney has already put in the work and has already won the case for you, you are stuck.
You will have to pay the contingency of between 33% to 40% or whatever you signed the contract for.
Thus, you must come ready to discuss a reduced contingency fee agreement at the initial consultation. The time to do this is BEFORE you have signed the contract.
When negotiating a lower contingency rate, here are some things you should keep in mind:
The “reduced work” method
One idea you can utilize for negotiating a lower contingency fee would be to emphasize how much work you have already done regarding your case.
Of course, this would require that you are organized as possible. You will have to bring all of your documentation to the initial consultation.
You will need to have it all put together very nicely in an organized binder or file. Once the lawyer sees how much work they have been relieved of, they might agree to a fee lower than the typical 33% to 40%.
Of course, you also have to make sure any work you have prepared yourself has been done efficiently as well.
The “Settlement Negotiation Only” Fee
Another negotiating tool in your arsenal would be negotiating a reduced fee if the lawyer can negotiate a lower settlement without taking the case to trial.
This means that if the lawyer has been successful in getting the other party to agree to a settlement without further litigation, they would agree to a lower fee, perhaps in the ballpark of 25% or less.
Of course, if a pre-lawsuit negotiation fails to produce a satisfactory settlement, the lawyer will insist on reverting to the typical contingency rate.
The “Reduced Fee Up To a Certain Amount” Method
Another idea you could bounce off of your attorney would be to attempt to get them to agree to an agreement where the fee is reduced unless they can get a certain amount.
For example, you would only pay the 25% rate unless they can get you a settlement $5,000 or $10,000 above the stingy insurance company offer.
Usually, you would only pay 25% for the lower rate, and then 33% or more for anything higher than that.
One advantage of this would be that the lawyer would be as motivated as possible to get you the highest amount possible, not only because it would help you but because it would help their pocketbook as well.
The “paying hourly up to a limit” method.
This method would work well if you have a gut feeling that the other party might fold quickly.
You would usually agree to pay the lawyer up to a certain limit, such as $2,000.
However, do be aware that if the lawyer cannot accomplish that amount after going above the specified rate, it will then switch to a contingency fee agreement.
The short answer to the question posed in this piece is “Yes, personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency basis.” The long answer is that you had better continue to do your homework to make sure you understand the entire process.
You want legal representation that is not only effective, but that won’t necessarily break the bank in the process either.