Fresno Personal Injury Attorney Fees

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What Does Working with a Lawyer on a Contingency Basis Mean?

If you or a loved one has recently suffered from a wrongful death in an accident or experienced a catastrophic personal injury, you may face financial challenges. Dealing with rising medical expenses, property damage, and lost income can make the idea of hiring an attorney seem daunting.

Fortunately, most California personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that you won't need to make any upfront payments. Instead, your personal injury attorney fees will be based on a successful outcome of your case. If you win, the attorney's fee will be a percentage of your compensation, whether through a settlement with the insurance company, liable party, or a trial verdict.

How Does Contingency Work?

Almost all Fresno personal injury attorneys represent their clients on a contingency basis. In this type of fee agreement, the client does not pay an up-front retainer or get billed by the hour. Rather, when the case is completely wrapped up, once a settlement has been obtained or a verdict has been rendered, the attorney gets paid out of that settlement or verdict. Usually, an agreed-upon percentage at the beginning of the attorney-client relationship.

This type of fee structure is beneficial for multiple reasons. First, the client owes the attorney nothing if the attorney does not collect. If the attorney loses the case, whether it is dismissed or there is an unfavorable jury verdict, the client still does not have to pay the attorney. Second, the attorney and the client have a vested interest in maximizing the value of your case. The more the client gets paid, the more the attorney gets paid. It’s a win-win. Third, it encourages attorneys to take cases that have merit. If an attorney feels they will lose a case or are not the best office to handle a case, they have less incentive to take it. This creates a healthy legal system that protects both the Plaintiff and the Defendant from attorneys who would otherwise pursue frivolous claims.

Here's an overview of how the process operates:
  1. Initial Consultation: Traditionally, the attorney provides an initial consultation at no cost to assess the strength of the client's case. This meeting allows the attorney to determine if the case has sufficient damages or negligence to proceed on a contingency fee basis. Often, the initial consultation alone is insufficient to reveal to an attorney if alleged negligence is present. Further investigation is often required to support a Plaintiff’s case.
  2. Agreement Signing: If both parties decide to move forward, they enter into a contingency fee agreement. This contract specifies the percentage of the attorney's fee in the event of a successful case outcome. There are certain times in the case in which the fee may change. This could be when a lawsuit is filed, when experts are hired, or when the day of trial starts. It all depends on what the language of the agreement states. Prospective clients should always remember the agreements are not set by law; the attorney sets them, and a client has every right to negotiate. However, most attorneys will follow industry standard percentages.
  3. Case Pursuit: After the agreement is in effect, the attorney initiates work on the case, dedicating time for negotiations and often covering expenses such as expert witness fees, court expenses, and investigations if a lawsuit needs to be filed. The client is not required to pay any of these fees upfront. Upon winning the lawsuit or reaching a settlement agreeable to the personal injury client, the attorney is allowed to recoup all of his or her costs, all will be outlined in the initial fee agreement contract.
  4. Resolution: If the lawyer effectively reaches a settlement or secures a court victory, they will receive their predetermined percentage from the awarded amount. In the event of an unsuccessful case, it is typically true that the attorney will bear the costs he or she spent in pursuit of the case.
  5. Expense Reimbursement: It is standard practice that contingency fee agreements include reimbursing the attorney for case-related expenses from any settlement or award. After deducting these expenses, the attorney receives their agreed-upon percentage, with the remaining funds going to the client.

What About the Expenses of a Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury litigation is extremely costly. That is why choosing an office and qualified team to represent and pursue your legal personal injury case adequately is important. Personal injury expert witnesses are often needed to prove a case. These include accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, engineers, economists and more. All these individuals are paid before a case is settled. That means your attorney has to be able to foot the cost of these bills in the interim. A medical expert in a medical malpractice case can cost upwards of $100,000.00 with their cumulative efforts. An accident reconstruction expert may cost anywhere between $25,000.00 and $40,000.00, depending on how much work needed to be done and if the case was brought to trial. All that to say, the cost of going to trial is significant. Make sure to hire an attorney who is prepared to spend the money and invest in the case.

What are Typical Attorney Fees For Personal Injury Cases?

An attorney will typically charge a certain percentage of the overall settlement depending on what stage of the case resolution is ultimately reached. For instance, if a case is settled pre-litigation before a lawsuit is filed and before the attorney engages in discovery needing to pay for experts, it is common industry practice to charge 33.3%. Whereas, if a resolution is reached after a lawsuit is filed, meaning the attorney begins the process of engaging in discovery, the attorney begins paying for expert witnesses, and costs of litigation increase dramatically, the charge typically increases to 40%. These fees are not set by law. However, they are standard among attorneys in the industry.

What is the Difference Between Pro Bono and Contingency Work?

Oftentimes, after a car accident or some other injury, a person thinks their only hope for legal representation is “Pro Bono” or free representation. They are wrong. Pro bono, Latin for “For the Public Good,” while vital to the community, is not always readily accessible. Representation on a contingency basis can bridge this gap. When fighting against large insurance companies, corporations, and their armies of lawyers, offices working on a contingency fee basis allow everyone to have the same access to legal representation regardless of their financial means. This means you don’t need millions of dollars in the bank to hire the best attorney. You just need a personal injury case with good legal merit.

Contact Us to Learn More about Personal Injury Attorney Fees

With 40 years of proven results throughout the Central Valley and beyond, the personal injury attorneys at Chandler Law are ready to walk you through the legal process if you need help. Do not let the worry of cost stop you from contacting an attorney who will fight for your best interest and work toward getting you what you are rightfully entitled to.

To learn more about our personal injury attorney fees or to Schedule a free case evaluation, contact us at (559) 825-2318. Hablamos español.

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