We’ve all heard the television commercials from injury firms with tag lines such as it’s free (with the caveat unless we win) or guaranteeing that they don’t get paid unless the victim gets paid. This is true, but what does it mean? For a victim that has never been through a motorcycle or car crash injury case, this could be deceiving and hard to understand on the front end. In this article, we will offer a simple explanation of how these fees, known as “contingency fees,” work. We will also explain why, with our firm, a victim is always better off even after paying these contingency fees.
What are Contingency Fees?
Seriously injured victims of motorcycle and car crashes more often than not do not have an ability to pay a lawyer hourly rates to handle their case. They are already in a financial strain caused by the crash or otherwise would have a difficult time paying a lawyer an upfront retainer or pay regularly invoiced billable hour fees while the case moves through what can be a long, drawn out process. This is one of the primary reasons that contingency fees are charged in injury cases.
To ensure that all victims get their access to justice, injury firms charge contingency fees. These fees are calculated as a percentage of the total recovery. The standard is normally somewhere between 33 1/3% and 40% of the total recovery from the case. For example, if the case is resolved for $15,000 and the contingency fee calls for 33 1/3% of the total recovery, then the injury lawyer’s fee would be $5,000.
The benefit of these fees are that they ensure that lawyer is results oriented. The lawyer does not just bill for activity. The injury lawyer only gets paid if the victim gets paid.
Why is a Crash Victim Better Off with Our Firm?
One of the most common questions we get when we explain the contingency fee structure at the outset of representing a motorcycle or car crash victim is the following:
“After paying you, what if I don’t get anything or, worse, what if I am still stuck with medical bills?”– Motorcycle or Car Crash Victim
First, our response is to always remember that the case is theirs. It is their decision whether to resolve it. It is not our or any anyone else’s decision to resolve the case. That decision remains with the victim and client. We make it abundantly clear that it’s the client’s decision to resolve the case.
Second, we let our clients know that the key question they should be asking when we present an offer to resolve the case is “What is the amount I will receive after paying attorney fees and medical bills?” If that amount is not sufficient in his or her mind, the victim should not resolve the case! It’s that simple! When presenting an offer to resolve the case, we always present the full picture, including the net to him or her after paying attorney fees and medical bills.
Finally, what about a situation where the insurance company or company’s reach a maximum offer to resolve the case and the victim is still not satisfied with their portion after attorney fees and medical bills. We make every effort to satisfy our clients by negotiating the medical bills down! We do our best to fill up the pot by maximizing settlement value and keep as much in the pot as possible by negotiating medical bills. Here’s a common example:
|Before Negotiating Medical Bills||After Negotiating Medical Bills|
|Gross Settlement Offer||$25,000.00||$25,000.00|
|Less: Attorney Fees (33 1/3% of Gross Settlement Above)||($8,333.33)||($8,333.33)|
|Less: Attorney Expenses||($500.00)||($500.00)|
|Net to Client before Medical Bills||$16,166.67||$16,166.67|
|Less: Medical Bills||($21,000.00)||($6,000.00)|
|Net to Client||($4,833.33)||$10,166.67|
We do our best to ensure the client is not left with the fully charged value of the medical bills. It can greatly increase the net to client at the end of the day. In this example, which is a common one, the client took home 3x as much after medical bill negotiation. This is a great example of why it is important that a victim of motorcycle or car crash not only hire an injury lawyer but also choose the right injury lawyer. The decision can make a big difference at the end of the day.