If you are injured in an accident, you face the prospect of having a difficult recovery. The physical effects of an injury can be painful and long-lasting. They may prevent you from returning to work or even enjoying daily life. There are also mental and emotional consequences to accidents and injuries.
The costs of treating these issues can be steep. Fortunately, you can seek compensation for these and other damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Though winning your case can provide you with the financial help you need, there are some financial aspects of retaining a personal injury lawyer you need to know about. How much you pay your lawyer depends on various factors.
Paying a Flat Fee or Retainer Fee
Some personal injury lawyers charge a flat fee for their services. This is a set amount the lawyer charges for representing you in your injury case. This amount covers everything during the duration of your case. This fee could be the total amount you will pay up-front, or it could be a set hourly rate that you will have to pay for any work the lawyer does on your behalf. Some personal injury lawyers can charge as much as $500 an hour for their services, though you can also find lawyers that charge in the $200/hour range. This rate will include the time the lawyer spends researching your case, interviewing witnesses, investigating the scene of the accident, preparing briefs, contacting the other party or others involved in the case, or anything else pertaining to your needs.
A retainer fee is like a deposit—a payment you make before the lawyer starts to review your case. In Missouri, this will often be a method the lawyer requires if the case goes to court. Once the lawyer receives a retainer payment, he or she will begin working on your case and preparing to go to court.
In addition to retainer fees, you may be responsible for paying other costs after your case is over. In personal injury matters, lawyers often use contingency fees. These can benefit both the lawyer and the client. Here is how it works: the attorney will only collect fees from you if you win your case. If you do win your case, the lawyer will take a percentage of the compensation the court awards you. This percentage can vary, but it is usually between 25% and 40% of your settlement. This means if you receive $100,000 for your injuries and lost wages, you will owe your lawyer between $25,000 and $40,000. Be advised that with a contingency agreement, if you lose your case, you still may owe your lawyer for certain services in working on your case.
Factors That Determine How Much You Will Pay
When it comes to contingency fees, different lawyers will charge different amounts. This will usually depend on how long the lawyer thinks the case will take and how complex it is. For a more straightforward case that the lawyer is confident will go quickly, the contingency percentage will likely be lower.
However, if the lawyer knows the case may drag on longer and require more time and work, the client should expect more of the settlement money to go to the lawyer. Moreover, the lawyer may prefer an advanced flat-fee payment in less complicated cases.
Other Influences on How Much Lawyers Will Ask For
Retainer fees and contingency fees will differ for other reasons. For example, if you hire a less experienced lawyer, you will likely have a smaller retainer fee to pay.
More experienced attorneys—those who have a proven track record of handling personal injury cases—can be more justified in requiring a larger retainer fee. Lawyers in rural areas will usually charge less than those in larger cities. The same is true for lawyers who work independently or for small firms than those who are part of larger firms.
Other Possible Methods of Paying for Legal Help
If you are not in a position to pay a retainer fee to hire a lawyer or to pay for the services a lawyer would provide, there are alternatives. Pro bono assistance (representation at no cost) might be available, especially if you are a low-income earner. Some lawyers will also work with clients on payment plans and similar arrangements. The Missouri Bar Association can help you find lawyers who are willing to give you free legal assistance.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
With something as important as your personal injury case, you need a legal advocate you can trust. This not only means finding someone with the skills, expertise, and experience to represent you but also choosing a professional you know has your financial interests in mind.
The financial aspects of retaining a personal injury lawyer and paying for the services can be distressing. However, there are some steps you can follow to help ensure you hire a competent lawyer.
One of the first steps is to ask people for referrals. If you know any family members, neighbors, or friends who have been injured in an accident, ask them if they pursued legal action. If they did, find out who represented them and whether they would recommend their lawyer. You can also choose some local lawyers and personal injury law firms and read online reviews or conduct interviews.
Many personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. You can use these meetings to assess which lawyer is the best fit for your needs, including your finances. The Missouri State Bar Association can also refer you to personal injury lawyers in the area.
You have a lot on your mind if you have been in an accident and suffered injuries. Figuring out how to pay for a lawyer is an important facet of your case. As you understand how much personal injury lawyers charge to retain their services and work on your case, you can be prepared to hire the right person. You can then move forward with more peace of mind and knowledge.