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Arguments over personal injury costs, fees, and expenses can at times be a sore subject between personal injury attorneys and clients. Making sure you and your personal injury attorney are on the same page concerning fees, costs, and expenses associated with your case can prevent miscommunication and headaches further down the road when discussing the monetary costs associated with running and submitting a claim.

Tip:  Put Agreement over Attorney Fees and Expenses in Writing

When interviewing an attorney to discuss your claim, it is helpful to discuss attorney’s fees, foreseeable costs associated with your case, and typically expenses with personal injury claims during this initial meeting.  Having a clear expectation on how much you are willing to invest in your own case can prevent feelings of friction or resentment later down the road.  Both client and attorney should enter a written agreement and outline the full expectations of both parties involved.

Contingency Fees – How do they work?

Many personal injury firms have a “no fee unless we win” clause, these are called contingency fees.  Outlined in a contingency-fee contract at the initial meeting, contingency fees are a set percentage of the reward money that the client receives from a claim.  Typically attorney fees range at 33.3 percent for a settlement to 40 percent for a trial verdict.

Costs of Running a Case

Keep in mind though; attorney fees are separate from the costs of running a case.  These additional expenses can vary and may or may not be covered in your attorney’s contingency fees.

Examples of expenses of running a case include:

  • Court filings
  • Expert witnesses
  • Depositions
  • Medical records
  • Police reports
  • Accident investigators
  • Other associated expenses such as court filing fees and postage

An Example:  Contingency Fee Plus Expenses

Court filings, obtaining medical records, employing investigators and performing depositions are not cheap.  Costs and expenses can be high, especially as a case goes to trial.  Here’s an example:

You sign a contingency-fee contract with an attorney for 40 percent of any money awarded to you from the case.  During the duration of the case, expenses amounted to $4,000.   The attorney settles the case for $30,000.  As outlined in your attorney’s contingency fee contract, the attorney’s fees are 40 percent of $30,000, which is $12,000.  Another $4,000 is deducted from your settlement for expenses incurred. Leaving the client with $14,000 of the final settlement.

The repayment of costs depends largely on the agreement between you and your attorney.  Spelling out the costs that are unavoidable versus costs that can be contained can help expenses from ballooning out of control.