Personal injuries amass from a variety of situations. Statistics show that, annually, 68.7 million Americans visit either a doctor’s office or an emergency room for a form of personal injury. That amounts to a staggering 21% of the country’s population!
Understandably, some injuries are simple accidents. Others may be caused by one or more forms of negligence on another party’s behalf.
If you are in a situation that resulted in personal injury, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney to assist in receiving reparations. With injuries typically leaving the recipient out of work, the thought of attorney fees may be daunting and stress-inducing.
Continue reading for insight on what to expect when it comes to the attorney’s fees.
What do attorney fees consist of?
For many people, the terms costs and fees resemble the same definition. However, in the justice industry, the terms represent two completely different financial areas.
Legal costs in relation to personal injury claims may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Court filing fee
- Expert witness testimony fee
- Administrative expenses (postage, copying, filing, legal research, etc.)
- Deposition costs
- Private investigation expenses
Simply put, legal costs are everything but the attorney’s fees. Now, you may ask, what are fees?
Attorney fees is the amount in which the attorney will charge you for handling your personal injury claim. Almost all personal injury attorneys will work for a contingency fee. However, in some cases, you may also work out an agreement to pay the attorney’s hourly rate.
Personal Injury Attorney Contingency Fees
When an attorney is retained for a contingency fee, you agree to give the attorney a set percentage of your settlement or award for performing their legal services.
Reportedly, contingency fees can be as low as 25%, but stretch as high as 40%. The average reported contingency fee is 32-33%.
With a contingency fee, the attorney will only get paid if a settlement or award is received.
You may be thinking, what does this percentage convert to when it comes to dollar amounts?
Let’s take a look.
The amount of the settlement or award for your personal injury claim will vary on a case by case basis. The following are the approximate amounts and averages they are received among claims:
- $3,000 or under | 16% of claims
- $3,001 – 10,000 | 37% of claims
- $10,001 – 25000 | 21% of claims
- $25,001 – 75,000 | 10% of claims
- Over $75,000 | 16% of claims
Now that we have an idea of the settlement or reward payout percentages for claims, we will look at them with the average percentage of 33% that attorneys charge for personal injury claim fees.
Here is a breakdown, with the above figures, that you can expect to pay your attorney for each tier of claim amounts:
- $3,000 or under | $0 – 1000 in attorney fees
- $3,001 – 10,000 | $1,000 – 3,300 in attorney fees
- $10,001 – 25,000 | $3,300 – $8,250 in attorney fees
- $25,001 – 75000 | $8,250 – 24,750 in attorney fees
- Over $75,000 | $24,750 + in attorney fees
The average personal injury claim sees a final settlement or award of $52,900, with approximately $17,457 paid to the attorney for their fees. This seems like a lot; however, it leaves the claimant with $35,443, which is three times the average net compensation of individuals who did not have legal representation for their personal injury.
With a contingency fee agreement, the attorney will receive the check for the full payout amount and will write their client a check for the remainder after fees are removed.
Personal Injury Attorney Hourly Fees
Paying an hourly rate for a personal injury attorney is very uncommon. Let’s take a brief look at the facts.
A recent poll across the United States showed that the average hourly fee charged by attorneys is $225. However, the hourly fee can range from $150 all the way up to $400 hourly.
The average preparation for a personal injury claim trial is fifty to sixty hours.
More complex cases, however, can go well over 100 hours! Seven out of ten claims are settled before going to trial. If you are one of the three cases out of ten that goes to trial, you can expect an average additional fifty to sixty hours.
With this being said, the average hourly attorney fees for a personal injury claim settled before a trial will be $12,375. This amount reflects an average of 55 hours of the attorney’s time at an average of $225/hour. Going to trial, one may expect the trial process to be lengthy, average of 110 hours total with the attorney’s hourly fees accumulating to $24,750 with the average hourly rate of $225.
The attorney will typically ask for an upfront retainer fee before accepting the case on an hourly basis. The retainer can range from $2,000 to $15,000 (sometimes more), and the accumulated hourly fees will be taken from the retainer. At the end of your case, if any of the retainer fees are left, you will receive it back. However, if the retainer fee depletes, you will be expected to put forth another retainer, usually equal to the initial.
Approaching a personal injury claim by paying the attorney by an hourly rate can be a major gamble. Depending on the nature of your personal injury claim, many times, you can end up paying more in hourly attorney fees than the settlement or award payout may be.
Due to this factor, this is why most personal injury attorneys will accept the case on an agreement to receive a contingency fee.
All in all, if you are one of the 21% of the American population that will be treated for a personal injury in some form, we hope you now feel more comfortable with what to expect financially by utilizing a personal injury attorney.