If you have been injured in a car accident, even if it may be a little your own fault or your injuries may not seem that severe, you may be hesitant to hire an attorney. One of the things you may be considering, and rightfully so, is how much you will pay. Attorneys are typically expensive. Different attorneys are paid in different ways; with different fee structures. So how much does a personal injury attorney cost?
First of all, most injury lawyers give free initial consultations to discuss the merits of your individual situation. So you should not hesitate to contact a competent attorney because it costs you nothing to do so. Once you have agreed to hire an attorney, he or she will send you a contract. Almost all personal injury and property damage work is done on what is known as a “contingency fee basis”. What that means is that you will sign a contract with that attorney turning over a percentage of any recovery you may obtain in exchange for legal service. In simpler terms; the attorney will keep a percentage of the amount of your settlement. So if you have no settlement, you own nothing. Even if an attorney works 100 hours for you, you own nothing until your case settles for an amount that you agree to. I always shake my head at the number of billboards and other advertisements that claim, “We don’t get paid unless you win!” as if this is somehow a significant selling point. Ok, yes, that is true. But it’s also true for all lawyers who work personal injury and property damage cases. It isn’t like those attorneys are offering something different than everyone else.
What a lot firms don’t advertise is how much of a percentage you will pay them. And this is a reason why I strongly believe hiring a solo practice lawyer can have benefits over hiring a large firm. Many firms have huge overhead, which they pass along to the client in the form of high percentage contracts. Some contingency fee contracts are as high as forty (40!) percent. As a solo practitioner, I avoid high overhead, and I believe that you gain very little advantage just on the fact you hire a large firm alone. A bigger firm does not guarantee a bigger settlement.
So how much is a reasonable fee in Texas to hire a personal injury attorney? Many firms today are charging 35% to take on a case, which often rises to 40% once a lawsuit has been filed. I would never charge that much. Not only that, but oftentimes payment of medical bills takes a large portion of the settlement and the larger corporate firm might end up making more money than the client. At Madsen Law Office I will never take more than the client. You are the one who suffered the trauma and/or loss. It is only fair that you get more money than the law firm that is working on your case.
Now you might be thinking that sounds like a large fee and perhaps you’d be better off working the case yourself, without an attorney. The problem here is that if you focus on the fee alone you are missing out on an important point. Another question to consider is, “what value will an attorney bring to my case?” Insurance companies’ goal is to pay as little as possible. They are quite good at it. Some companies are tougher than others and they have teams of lawyers who work for them. The difference an experienced personal injury attorney makes in arguing against them is often several times what you may be able to gain by yourself. I personally know many of the big players in the major insurance companies just by my experience doing this in the Austin area for so long. I also have relationships with mediators. An experienced injury lawyer knows what a fair settlement looks like, what a smart amount of medical treatment to get for your case is, the types of treatment that is normally covered in injury claims and more. Just on the mere fact that an insurance company sees you are working with an attorney can lead to a quick and no-nonsense settlement. Insurance companies are notorious for delaying, delaying, delaying, which can harm your case. With an attorney, you get more than a professional demand letter and expertly negotiated mediation; you also get a personal guide through exactly what you should be doing and when so your case has the best chance of a successful outcome.
In the end, how much a personal injury lawyer costs is less important than the value they bring. But when you are shopping between lawyers to represent you in your case, take my advice and make sure you read and understand your contract for representation. You deserve an attorney who is open, honest, and transparent, and one who will take the time to explain how the payment process works before you sign the contract. If you would like a consultation about your case, I’m happy to speak with you, no obligation, free of charge. I’m here to help.