How will my attorney and all my legal fees be paid?
A first reaction in contemplating whether or not to hire a lawyer may be to wonder how your attorney will be paid. In almost all personal injury cases, your attorney will be paid through a percentage or portion of the final settlement or court award resulting from your injury. The percentage will be discussed with you and will be the subject of what is called a contingent fee agreement. The law requires, for your protection and that of your lawyer, a written contract, which specifies the fee he or she will charge so there will be no misunderstanding about how much your case will cost. Most contingent fee agreements provide that you do not have to pay your lawyer for his or her services unless, and until, the case is settled or is resolved by a court verdict in your favor. The agreement will provide that your lawyer will work diligently on your case in exchange for the percentage or portion outlined in the agreement. As discussed below, however, you will be responsible for actual out-of-pocket costs, in addition to the attorneys’ fees, even if the case is not settled or won.
Various costs are accounted for within the attorney’s fees. The fee for your attorney is based upon his or her work, time, effort and expertise. The lawyer’s fee also encompasses certain office overhead such as secretarial time, rent, files, and other built-in costs. However, there are also additional out-of-pocket expenses, which are incurred specifically as a result of your case. Some of these expenses include the following:
- Fees that doctors and hospitals charge for medical reports. Such reports may cost anywhere from a few dollars for simple copies to $100 or more for reports that have to be written or prepared specifically by your doctor.
- Photocopy charges. Insurance companies require significant numbers of copies of medical bills, medical reports, police reports, witness statements and lost income information. Your law firm has to pay for these photocopies and you will usually be charged a certain amount for each page of copy.
- Long distance telephone calls. If long distance telephone calls are required, you will probably have to reimburse your attorney for the actual cost of each call.
- Cost of photographs. Photographs are extremely important in a personal injury case and if your attorney incurs expense in having photos obtained or enlarged, you will be responsible for such costs.
- Reports of experts. Reports from experts other than physicians may be required in your case and if so you will have to pay the costs that such experts charge for their reports.
- Litigation costs. If your case has to proceed to suit or litigation, there will be costs incurred as a result of the filing of such a lawsuit.