Understanding the Cost of Your Lawsuit Claim
May 10, 2018 | Personal Injury
In legal practices, “costs” is not the same as the fees that are paid to your accident lawyer for their services. Instead, costs refer to the expenses paid by the lawyer’s office in investigating your claim and representing you and presenting your case to the judge. There are many aspects of costs that can affect the final dollar amount and this is added to any fee that you are also requires to pay to the attorney. Depending on the agreement you reach with your lawyer, you will have to repay the lawyer for these costs, usually out of your final settlement amount. Some costs are unavoidable. For example, if the lawyer must file a lawsuit to protect your rights, the fee for filing that lawsuit is a necessary cost. If your claim does not settle in early negotiations with the insurance company and the lawyer must proceed with a lawsuit, these costs often include the hiring of experts and the expense of recording depositions and can balloon rapidly into thousands of dollars. There are several matters pertaining to costs that you and your lawyer need to discuss and spell out clearly in your written agreement.
Preparing for Your Case
It is important that you take care to keep detailed notes about any injuries that you received as a result of the accident. You will also want to keep good records on all of the medical treatments you received because of an injury. When the accident is featured in any lawsuit, you will want these records and documentation to help prove your case to the judge. This forms the basis of your claim and is key to getting a good determination ruling from the judge. Keep a list of the names, contact information, and treatment plans for anyone you see after an auto accident including:
- Doctors, emergency teams, specialists, surgeons, and physicians that you saw
- Chiropractors or acupuncturists or other medical care providers who treated you
- Physical therapists, counselors, nurses, aids, home care assistants, etc who you saw
- Hospital and clinical specialists you saw at any time regarding your injuries and care
- Scan technicians, blood draw experts, lab techs, and doctors as well as their interns
- Other medical professionals who assisted in your care and treatment and recovery
Also keep the following records:
- Daily journal about treatments you received, your care, who you saw for care, etc.
- A list of the medications you have been prescribed as a result of the injuries
- Listings of any and all scans, treatments, tests, therapies, appointments, and procedures
- Be specific about the symptoms, if they are worse or better and how they make you feel
- Keep a record of all communications you have with anyone regarding your care
- Record all written conversations and write notes for face-to-face and phone chats
- Save every medical bill and receipt that is related to the accident involved in the case
- File all prescriptions for medications, walkers, braces, therapy, and other devices too
- Keep track of travel expenses from travel to and from all your medical visits
- Record any routine day to day care relate expenses- new diets, new clothing needs, etc
- Keep a list of the changes to your normal life that have come about due to the accident
To make sure your claim is as strong in your favor as it can be, record the following:
- All of the details regarding the accident -before, during, and after
- Snap pictures at the scene of the accident if you can and of your injuries
- Proof of financial losses like income and lost work opportunities
- Names and contacts of any known witnesses to the accident that caused you injuries
- Photos showing you getting various medical treatments and care
Lawyers Have to be Paid for Their Time
The thing to remember about fees and expenses when it comes to how much an attorney costs in the end is that it has to do with their time invested into your case. They are a business and like all businesses, they do what they do to make money. They charge for their time and seek compensation for their own expenses that went into preparing, presenting, and representing you and your case in court. The typical personal injury lawyer will charge a contingency fee to handle your case. Some state statutes limit the percentage that a lawyer can take as a contingency fee. Most contingency fees are between 33 and 40%, but you can always try to negotiate a reduced or alternative agreement. In the majority of cases, a personal injury lawyer will receive 33.33% (or one third) of any settlement. For example, if you receive an offer of $30,000 from the wrongdoer or his insurance company in your case, you will receive $20,000 and your lawyer will receive $10,000. This may seem like a lot but when you consider what they have invested into your case it can be a little easier to understand why attorneys have to charge the fees that they do and why their own expenses for your case are also figured into their final cut from your settlement.
Counting the Cost
Many personal injury lawyers will cover costs and expenses and then deduct them from your share of the settlement. Other lawyers will charge you for costs and expenses as they become due. Both approaches are legal and you will need to discuss what the terms are for your individual case. Some attorneys will do both- the bulk of the fees and expenses will be pulled from your final settlement but certain expenses will need to be paid for as they are accumulate. Costs and expenses that your attorney may want ‘as they become due’ payments for in a personal injury case might include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Expert witness fee
- Filing fee
- Trial exhibits
In most cases, attorneys who ask for “as needed” payments will send invoices of sorts every month or so outlining what has been spent and what percentage the customer has to pay. They will then have a set amount of time to pay the fees to continue retaining the attorney’s service. To learn more about attorney fees and expenses contact us today and speak with our team members.
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