Although most attorneys are paid hourly after an initial down payment, personal injury lawyers are compensated differently. They neither get down payments nor get paid hourly but have a contingency fee agreement with the complainant. They can even use their own money to finance a client’s case hoping to get paid off in future after the case is won. Hence, they usually take a calculated bet of the case which may or may not pay off in the end.
Contingency fee agreement
Personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis where they get paid one-third of the total amount after the case is won and if you lose they do not get paid. This favors you because you will not have to spend money and your attorney will handle your case with his or her own money where needed. Besides, the lawyer will be motivated to work on your case to get their payment from your compensations.
You have to sign a fee agreement contract with the attorney. The contract details the exact amount of money (by percentage) you and the lawyer will get when the case is over. However, since there are additional fees and costs involved throughout the case, contingency fee does not include only one third! Since the lawyer will use his or her money during the case, your payout as a complainant will lower substantially if the case is won. But if you lose the case, you will not have to pay the lawyer any amount of money.
Since the contract sets out the exact sum of money you will have to pay the lawyer; you need to take your time and read the contract before signing it to avoid future problems. Once you’ve signed the contract, you are bound by its terms, and you cannot change your mind later on. Therefore, you can take a day or two to read the contract and ask questions before signing it. Some attorneys are very supportive since they explain every section to their clients while others just give you the contract to read and assess yourself. After reading the contract, ask as many questions as possible and be sure you understand the contract before signing.
The costs may include copying costs, document printing costs, expert testimony, office, and deposition. These are the expenses that your attorney will pay during preparation and negotiation of your case. After the case is won, these costs are deducted first before the attorney takes his fee from the compensation. However, you won’t pay any of these costs if the attorney did not win a trial or was not successful in settling your case. It is a risk the attorney takes hoping to win the case and gets compensated.
Medical liens are medical expenses you incurred from the personal injury. These may include medical bills from doctors or hospitals which offered you treatment after they got a letter of protection from your lawyer. The liens may also include other treatment expenses e.g. drugs purchased before the case was finalized.
Your medical injury lawyer uses a letter of protection promising to pay for your treatments after trial or arbitration of the case. This letter of protection, therefore, is a binding contract between your treatment provider and your attorney and any breach of the contract may result in a lawsuit or disciplinary action from state bar for the personal injury law office.
Just like most attorneys, personal injury lawyers have a fine print fee agreement. The fee will be deducted from the total compensation amount just like any other cost.
Deduction costs, medical liens and the net amount the client will receive are the three clauses included in a contingency fee agreement. Just read through each clause, ask questions and get clarifications where needed before signing the contract. Sometimes, you can take a day or even two to understand the contract before signing it!