Most personal injury cases involve a person who has been physically injured as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else. The injury typically results from the act or failure to act of an individual, a business entity or a branch of government.
No matter how much of an education a person might have, a prudent person with common sense isn’t going to jump into the world of personal injury claims or lawsuits. That world involves doctors, medical records and reports, insurance companies, the rules of evidence, procedure and civil litigation without the benefit of experienced and effective legal counsel.
How Can I Afford a Personal Injury Lawyer?
In any big city, an experienced attorney is going to bill his or her time at a minimum of $225 per hour, plus the out-of-pocket costs for bringing and maintaining a case. Most people can’t pay that on a monthly billing basis. A monthly bill of $1,000 or more on top of ordinary living expenses makes somebody who was seriously injured as a result of the fault of somebody else wary of bringing a personal injury lawsuit. That fear would operate to lock countless people out of courtrooms who want to exercise their constitutional right to seek compensation for their injuries.
The Contingency Fee
It’s safe to say that about 99 percent of all personal injury cases are handled by attorneys on a contingency fee basis. As opposed to billing the client on an hourly basis plus costs, the attorney agrees that he or she is to be paid legal fees only if the case reaches a successful settlement or verdict. That sum is equal to a certain percentage of any settlement or verdict. Nothing is paid by the client up front, and there are no actual out-of-pocket costs to the client either. The attorney advances those costs. If the case is lost, the attorney isn’t paid any legal fees at all.
Costs and Expenses
Although a party to a contingency fee agreement won’t need to pay any legal fees if a settlement or verdict isn’t obtained, he or she might be responsible for the costs of bringing and sustaining a lawsuit. Those can include the costs of obtaining medical records and reports, filing fees, subpoena fees, deposition, court reporter and transcript costs and even expert witness fees.
Contingency Fees in the State of Washington
Section 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct governs contingency fees in the State of Washington. Any contingency fee agreement has to be in writing, and it must be signed by the client. The agreement must state the method how legal fees are to be determined, and it’s required to reflect any percentages that are to be paid to the attorney in the event of settlement, trial or appeal. The agreement must clearly state how costs of bringing and maintaining the action are to be deducted, and whether they’re to be deducted before or after the contingency fee is calculated. “The agreement must clearly notify the client of any expenses for which the client will be liable, whether or not the client is the prevailing party.” After any contingency fee case has been completed, the attorney is required to provide the client with a written accounting that states the outcome of the case. If there’s a financial recovery, the net proceeds to the client and how that number was arrived at must be fully disclosed.
How Much of a Percentage?
The State of Washington generally allows a client and his or her attorney to agree on any reasonable percentage that will sufficiently compensate the attorney for their time and expertise. Unless otherwise controlled by statute, a contingency fee agreement in a personal injury case might recite legal fees of 33 percent if a case is settled in the claim or litigation stage. It might be as much as 40 percent if an appeal is taken by either party to a lawsuit.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation and Case Review
People who retain a lawyer on a contingency fee basis just can’t afford to pay hourly rates. Most people can’t, and therein lies the attraction of contingency fee agreements in personal injury cases. If you were injured in an accident anywhere in or around Spokane, we even offer free consultations and case reviews. We’ll carefully listen to you, and then we’ll tell you what we think we might be able to do for you.
Once we enter into a contingency fee agreement, we’ll do everything that we can to keep the costs down while also protecting and asserting your best interests. Our goal is to maximize your net proceeds in any settlement or verdict. We know how to unlock the doors of justice for you. Contact our Spokane Personal Injury Lawyers right away for that free consultation and case review after being injured in any accident.