This is the most frequently asked question that we hear from clients. It’s also one of the most difficult to answer. Every personal injury claim is slightly different, and the costs will vary greatly depending on the exact circumstance of your accident. While we understand why clients want to know what their cases will cost, we also want to make sure that we provide our clients with accurate information, and when it comes to your total legal bill, we can’t know the full cost until we dive into the details of your case and develop an understanding of the exact circumstances surrounding your accident.
When you or a loved one suffers injuries at the hands of someone else, you may qualify to file a personal injury claim that seeks compensation from the party who harmed you. However, personal injury claims are complex legal procedures that often require the assistance of an experienced legal professional.
You likely do not want to pay for a lawyer, but you also likely don’t want to pay your high medical bills out of your own pocket when you did nothing to cause your injuries. You may be at a loss for what to do next, but fear not. You have options for paying your personal injury lawyer. However, the one thing that you do not have an option on is time. After you have suffered an injury, you have limited time to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. If you miss this important deadline, even the best lawyer cannot help you recover.
To avoid this tragic situation, your best option for maximizing your compensation is to speak with a trusted personal injury lawyer today. Right now, you have options. If you wait too long, you may not have any. You deserve every chance to make a full and complete recovery. The best way for you to do this is by working with a personal injury lawyer from Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney you trust to represent your best interests and protect your rights.
Most lawyers bill their time to their clients by the hour—but not personal injury lawyers (more on that later).
The Florida Bar specifically requires that lawyers charge reasonable hourly rates, but does not define what makes a rate reasonable.
Nevertheless, certain considerations go into the determination of whether a rate is reasonable, including:
- Time, labor, and skill required for the case
- The complexity surrounding the case
- The likelihood that taking this case would mean that the lawyer could not take other cases
- Standard fees charged by other attorneys
- The subject matter of the case
- The experience and reputation of the lawyer
- The nature and length of the lawyer’s relationship with the client
Depending on the complexity of your case, an hourly fee might not work in your best interests. Make sure you research these issues if a lawyer—especially a personal injury lawyer—presents you with an hourly fee agreement before signing it. Also, consider speaking with other lawyers in your area who may offer different payment options.
Most personal injury attorneys use a contingency fee structure. A contingency fee means your lawyer only collects a fee if you win your case, in which case the fee is taken directly from your settlement funds or jury award.
Not only is this fee arrangement fairer for you, the victim, but it also gives your lawyer some incentive to work even harder to get you every dollar you deserve. This also means that if you can’t collect any damages from the at-fault party, you will not lose any additional financial resources by needing to pay your lawyer.
Contingency fee agreements might include court costs and other expenses. So even though your lawyer agrees to take a percentage of your settlement as his or her payment, the total fee might also include some expense reimbursements.
In exchange for agreeing to the contingency fee, your lawyer may:
- Investigate your claim
- Prepare legal documents
- File extensive pleadings
- Attend hearings
- Respond to motions and pleadings from the other side
- Conduct depositions
- Prepare for trial
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Retain expert witnesses
This does not include everything that your lawyer will pay for upfront, nor does it include all of the work your lawyer will do on your behalf. By helping you, your lawyer is spending a lot of time, effort, and money for potentially no return, if you do not prevail in your case. Of course, your lawyer has every intention of winning your case, but no one wins every time.
What a Personal Injury Lawyer Does for You
The job of personal injury lawyers is to help you recover every dollar you deserve so that you do not have to pay a dime out of your own pocket for injuries that someone else caused. The last thing your lawyers want is for you to suffer financial hardship after you’ve sustained an injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault. Your personal injury lawyer will take several steps on your behalf to help you get back on your feet quickly and get back to your regular life.
No matter what type of accident injured you, your personal injury lawyer will work with you to investigate your accident and determine from whom to seek compensation. This will help prove that the at-fault party acted in a negligent, reckless, or careless manner that resulted in your injuries and your suffering.
Many personal injury claims result from the following:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Police misconduct
- Sport injury
Depending on the type of accident you were in and the complexities involved, your personal injury lawyer may rely on our experts to help provide an analysis of your accident. Look for a personal injury lawyer with long-standing relationships with experts in every field who can help to show why your accident happened and why you deserve financial compensation from the person who caused your accident.
Not only does your personal injury lawyer negotiate with opposing counsel, but he or she will also negotiate with the insurance company representing the at-fault party. Your personal injury lawyer should fully prepare to take your case to trial, if that’s what is necessary to maximize your recovery, but should endeavor to settle your case if possible. Only about 5 percent of personal injury cases ever go to trial, but that does not mean you shouldn’t prepare.
You have medical bills piling up, and you want to put this tragic life experience behind you. That’s why your personal injury lawyer tries to settle your case for a fair amount. In fact, most personal injury cases settle out of court.
Your personal injury lawyer does not want to see you settle for less than the actual cost of your injuries. Insurance companies are not always the most scrupulous companies. They may offer you a quick settlement before you hire a lawyer, hoping that you take the settlement without thinking about your future financial needs.
However, when you work with a personal injury lawyer, he or she can help you evaluate the settlement offer to make sure it includes compensation for all of your future needs, like:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Home renovation costs
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
There is no way to know with absolute certainty the exact dollar amount you will need. That’s why you want to work with a lawyer with your best interests at heart, who can help you create an accurate estimate of your future needs. The right lawyer for you will have many years of experience representing personal injury clients just like you. As a result, he or she will understand what it will take for you to heal and make sure that your claim does not settle for less than a fair amount.
Costs and Expenses
No matter what type of accident you were in, personal injury claims are expensive endeavors. Aside from your lawyer’s time and knowledge, he or she may also pay certain fees and expenses on your behalf.
These may include:
- Filing fees
- Police report fees
- Medical record examination fees
- Court reporter fees
- Trial exhibit expenses
- Expert rates
Many clients ask us to calculate these additional costs, so the clients know what to expect. Unfortunately, the amount varies on each case. Some personal injury cases settle quickly, so these extra fees are nominal. Other cases, while rare, can take longer to complete, in which case these extra fees may increase. Generally, the longer your case takes, the higher these fees.
The whole point of bringing a personal injury claim after you have suffered injuries in an accident is to make sure that you do not pay for your medical expenses out of your own pocket. You did not cause your injuries, so you should not have to bear the burden of paying the bills.
That’s what makes payout clauses in your contingency fee agreement important. These clauses determine how and when you receive your settlement funds after successfully winning your personal injury case. If you have any questions about this, do not be shy about asking your attorney what it means. Generally, payout clauses will include language about how to deal with costs and how you receive money after your case has concluded.
The most common scenario is for your attorney to receive the full amount of your settlement funds, collect his or her own fee as well as reimbursement for any fees that he or she fronted, and then pay the remaining amount directly to you.
I’m Still Not Sure I Need a Lawyer
Personal injury law is complex, and not every lawyer is capable of handling your case. What’s important is that you choose a lawyer with whom you are comfortable to handle your case competently. Remember, you have nothing to lose by working with a lawyer on a contingent basis. You pay your lawyer absolutely nothing unless your lawyer successfully settles or wins your case.
By taking this approach, you do not have to worry about legal fees; you do not have to worry about court costs or expert witness fees. All you have to worry about is your physical and mental recovery. When you trust a lawyer to handle your complex personal injury claim on your behalf, you release the stress and weight of what comes next. This allows you the opportunity to focus your efforts on your recovery, which is our goal for you.
Your personal injury lawyer wants to help conclude your legal struggle, and should work aggressively to give you every chance at getting back to your regular life as quickly as possible. From the day you call your personal injury lawyer, he or she should begin putting your case together and preparing to tell your story.
Your personal injury lawyer should investigate your accident, take depositions, speak with witnesses, engage experts, negotiate with insurance companies, represent you in court if necessary, and work toward a settlement or successful outcome at trial. The best part is that your personal injury lawyer should all of this at no cost to you. He or she only gets paid if and when you win.
Speak With a Lawyer Today
Remember, you have a limited amount of time after your accident to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party and collect damages for your injuries. Do not miss out on this opportunity by delaying any further.
No matter what type of accident caused your injuries, you may qualify for compensation under the law. To help you get every dollar you deserve, you need to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who will aggressively protect your rights. If you or a loved one needs assistance from a trusted personal injury lawyer, make sure you contact one today.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814