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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal Injury Lawyer Cost


How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

 
average costTypical Contingency Fee: 15%-40%high costRelated Expenses: $1,000-$100,000+

A personal injury lawyer handles cases where one person suffers harm through an accident or injury (like a car accident, injury at work, product defect or medical negligence) and another person, company, government agency or other entity might be legally responsible for that harm. FindLaw.com provides an overview[1] of personal injury law.

Typical costs:

  • Personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they are only paid if there is a favorable settlement or court order, typically taking 15%-40% of any money received. In addition to the lawyer's fees, there can also be court costs, expert witness fees, investigation charges, clerical labor and other expenses associated with the case. These amounts will vary depending on the type and complexity of the case, and in some types of claims the attorney will advance the money for these related expenses and be reimbursed from the money received (that's in addition to the percentage due for the lawyer's fee).
  • For example, in a car accident case with injuries, a lawyer typically charges 30%-40% of any money received, while court costs and other expenses start around $1,000-$2,000 for a simple case and increase depending on what is involved. For a slip-and-fall claim a typical lawyer's fee is 25%-40% while related expenses can be $1,000-$4,000 for a simple case and increase quickly depending on the number and type of expert testimony needed. Also see: dog bite lawsuit and property damage lawsuit.
  • For on-the-job injuries, state and federal laws dictate how much a workers compensation attorney can charge; the details vary considerably, but in several states the maximum is 20%. Other expenses can be $5,000-$10,000 or more. An asbestos attorney typically receives 33%-40% of any money received. Related expenses start at about $10,000-$25,000 and increase quickly depending on the technical and medical testimony required. Also see: product liability attorney.
  • A medical malpractice lawyer typically charges 25%-40% of any money received; related expenses average $25,000-$50,000 but can be $50,000-$100,000 or more in complicated situations. Also see: elder abuse lawsuit.
Related articles: Medical Malpractice Lawsuit, Car Accident Lawsuit, Dog Bite Lawsuit, Asbestos Attorney, Attorney Fees

What should be included:
  • Personal injury cases typically fall under tort law, which covers civil wrongs and economic or non-economic damages to a person's property, reputation or right. These cases are generally based on legal precedents (past court rulings in similar cases) rather than on specific laws or statutes, as in criminal cases where the goal is to prove or disprove whether an individual violated a specific penal code. FindLaw.com provides an overview[2] of personal injury law.
  • Most personal injury claims are resolved by an informal settlement reached by the plaintiff (the person claiming the injury), the defendants (those allegedly legally responsible for the harm) and the attorneys representing them. Typically there will be a series of negotiations resulting in a written document in which both sides agree to not take any further action (like a lawsuit) in exchange for payment of an agreed-upon sum of money. In rare cases, instead of payment the settlement may include an agreement that the defendant change their actions. FindLaw.com describes what to consider before agreeing to a settlement[3] .
  • Some personal injury cases go to trial as a civil lawsuit. FindLaw.com explains what happens in a personal injury trial[4] and the appeals process[5] .
Discounts:
  • If the amount involved is less than $2,500-$15,000 (as set by state law), a personal injury case can be handled in small claims court, usually without involving lawyers. Filing fees and other costs can add $20-$320 or more.
Shopping for a personal injury lawyer:
  • Generally an attorney specializes in one or just a few types of personal injury cases. If possible, contact several personal injury lawyers before hiring one. Ask about the attorney's training and experience in personal injury law, especially with this type of case (car accident, dog bite, medical malpractice, etc.).
  • Lawers.com explains how to prepare[6] for a first meeting with a personal injury lawyer and how to choose[7] a personal injury lawyer..
  • Referrals to personal injury lawyers are available through the American Association for Justice[8] and the American Bar Association[9] .
  • The attorney should provide a written fee agreement. It's important to clearly understand exactly how and when the lawyer's fees will be deducted from any settlement or judgment received, and if there are any fees or expected expenses that will add to the total cost.
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External Resources:
  1.  injury.findlaw.com/
  2.  injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/personal-injury-law-the-basics.html
  3.  injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/resolution-before-trial-settlement.html
  4.  injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/what-happens-at-trial.html
  5.  litigation.findlaw.com/filing-a-lawsuit/appealing-a-court-decision-or-judgment.html
  6.  personal-injury.lawyers.com/Personal-Injury-Basics/Personal-Injury-Preparing-to-Me...
  7.  personal-injury.lawyers.com/Personal-Injury-Basics/Personal-Injury-Selecting-a-Goo...
  8.  www.justice.org/cgi-bin/pubdir.pl
  9.  apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm
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