Victims of personal injuries often find themselves drowning in financial woes after their accident. Not only do they have medical bills to pay, but it’s not uncommon to have to take time off work. They may lose wages during their time away, and some victims are unable to ever return to work in the same capacity again.
If you’re already dealing with all these financial burdens, how are you supposed to go about hiring a lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve? Read on to learn how much a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer costs and why they may be more affordable than you think.
What Are Contingency Fees?
Most Los Angeles personal injury lawyers get paid through a structure called contingency fees. This name comes from the fact that their payment is contingent on how much money they recover for you. Contingency fees are taken as a percentage of your total compensation package.
One of the biggest benefits of a contingency fee structure is that you don’t have to worry about how you’ll pay up-front for the legal representation you need.
Often, personal injury victims find themselves drowning in medical bills and unable to work to pay for them. The last thing you need is to be struggling to cover lawyer’s fees.
The other benefit of contingency fees is that they give your lawyer a hard incentive to get the biggest recovery possible for you. The more money they get for you, the more they get paid. Even if your lawyer already wants the best for your case, this gives them a definite motive to work as hard as they can.
What Percentage Are Contingency Fees?
In general, Los Angeles personal injury attorneys tend to take 33 percent of your total settlement as their contingency fee. This means that if they win you $20,000, they’ll take $6,600 as their fee.
However, these fees can vary a little depending on how complex your case is.
If your lawyer can get you a fair settlement just by sending a letter to the insurance company, they may only charge a 25 percent fee. But if your claim goes all the way to trial, you may see up to a 40 percent fee.
What Do These Fees Cover?
A 33 percent fee may seem extreme, especially if you wind up getting a large settlement for your personal injury case. After all, if your lawyer recovers a million dollars for you, they may take home over $400,000 of that. So what do these fees cover?
Your lawyer will do a lot of leg work to prepare your case, especially if it goes to court, including
- Pulling medical records to show the timing and extent of your injuries
- Pulling police reports to show that you were not at fault in your accident and that the defendant was
- Finding expert witnesses to confirm the claims you’re making in your case
- Covering court filing fees and other such up-front expenses, which can reach into the thousands
- Researching legal precedents to support your case
- Meticulously calculating the amount of damages you may be owed, including both economic damages and non-economic damages
Not only are they covering those court fees up front, but they’re also spending potentially dozens of hours gathering information and preparing to argue your case.
What Happens If We Don’t Win?
The big sell with contingency fees is that you don’t have to pay them until the lawyer wins your case. So what happens if you don’t win the case?
Different attorneys handle this situation differently. Many won’t charge you at all if they don’t win your case. These attorneys tend to be very selective about what cases they take on – they won’t take a case they don’t think they can win.
Some lawyers will still require you to pay a fee for their time even if you don’t win the case. It’s important to clarify which pay structure a lawyer uses before you hire them.
Hybrid Fee Structures
Some lawyers combine a contingency fee structure with some other payment structures. The example we discussed above technically falls into this category. If a lawyer works on contingency if they win, but still charges you for their time if you lose, that’s not a true contingency structure.
Other lawyers will stick to the contingency fee structure, but will require you to pay extra legal fees. These may include fees for pulling certain records, court fees, and other such expenses.
While this hybrid structure may seem better than paying an hourly fee, those costs can stack up in a hurry.
Flat Fee Structures
Some personal injury lawyers offer a flat fee structure for very simple cases that won’t take a lot of legwork.
Rather than charging a 25 percent fee (which could actually cost you more money), they’ll charge you a flat fee for a specific range of services. Most of the time, this involves sending a letter to an insurance company, but not doing any actual negotiating with them.
That being said, flat fee structures are relatively unusual and, depending on the size of your settlement, may not save you any more money than a traditional contingency fee structure.
So if you do wind up having to pay your Los Angeles personal injury attorney an hourly fee, how much can you expect that to be?
In Los Angeles, personal injury lawyers using an hourly structure charge about $287 per hour.
How many hours your lawyer spends working on your case can vary hugely. If your case is open-and-shut and only requires an out-of-court negotiation with the insurance company, you may only get charged for a few hours. But if it’s complex, your attorney has to dig up lots of evidence, and it goes all the way through trial, you could be looking at more than 100 hours.
Get Affordable Representation
Dealing with a personal injury can be painful, overwhelming, and financially devastating. Most Los Angeles personal injury lawyers use a contingency fee structure to keep your case affordable. Those fees tend to range between 25 and 40 percent, depending on how complex your case is.
At M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers, we want to make sure you get the representation you need at a price you can afford. Our lawyers have recovered over $400 million for our clients, and we always work on contingency, so you only pay if we win. Schedule a free consultation with us today to discuss the details of your case.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.