Both forms of fees for personal injury lawyers are explained below (as well as costs).
Contingency Fee for Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury attorneys generally charge clients a contingency fee. What is a contingency fee? A contingency fee means that if your attorney wins your case, then the attorney gets a percentage of the monetary recovery (“settlement”). In other words: 1) you do not pay your attorney anything until he wins your case and 2) if the attorney wins, he will take a percentage of the settlement. This means the cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer will depend on how much he wins for you. The more he gets you, the more he gets.
What are the advantages of a contingency fee for the client? The advantages are three-fold: (1) Your attorney is incentivized to get you the largest settlement possible. The more money you recover, the more money your attorney earns. (2) You don’t need to pay anything out of your own pocket. Thus, everyone, whether rich or poor, can bring a personal injury case. (3) If your attorney loses, it doesn’t cost you anything. Most good attorneys don’t charge their clients anything if they lose the case.
What are the disadvantages for the client? Contingency fee percentages tend to be high. The personal injury attorney takes on the the risk of your case—if you lose, he loses and if you win, he wins.
The most common type of contingency fees are 33.3%-50%. At Valiente Mott Injury Attorneys, our attorneys charge a 33.3% contingency fee in pre-litigation and 40% once in litigation (i.e., after a lawsuit is filed). This is the most common fee structure or personal injury lawyers in Nevada.
Hourly Attorney’s Fee for Personal Injury Lawyers
On rare occasions, some personal injury attorneys charge their client on a per-hour basis. However, most people find this option financially crippling. Attorneys charge anywhere from $300-$1,000 per hour. A per-hour agreement can become financially overwhelming very quickly. Contingency fees avoid this almost certain predicament. This is why contingency fees are the most common fee personal injury lawyers offer their clients.
You should think twice about pursuing your case if you can’t find a lawyer to take it on a contingency fee basis. A lawyer’s refusal to take your case on a contingency fee indicates your case might not be a winner.
Costs are Different than Attorney Fees
Oftentimes there are costs associated with personal injury cases. Costs are different than fees. Depending on the case, the amount of the costs will vary. The costs may include expert witnesses, court reporters, depositions, administrative fees, and travel, among other expenditures. For example, medical malpractice cases often require multiple expert witnesses, whereas a car accident case may only require one. As a result, medical malpractice cases usually have higher costs than motor vehicle cases. Attorneys can either pay the costs out of their own pocket or ask the client to personally cover the costs.
At Valiente Mott Injury Attorneys, our firm pays the client’s costs and only requests reimbursement if the case successfully resolves. If the case does not successfully resolve, our clients are not responsible for the costs. This ensures the client may pursue justice without any fear of later becoming financially crippled with debt.
If your attorney pays the costs and is successful in obtaining a settlement on your behalf, his costs will be reimbursed before the distribution of his fees. For example: Your attorney paid $500 in costs on your case and you must pay back $15,000 in medical bills. If your attorney negotiated a $100,000 settlement, the amount of money you would take home is $51,167. A breakdown of this example is below:
Medical Bills: $15,000
Attorneys’ Fees: $33,333
Client’s Recovery: $51,167
Total Settlement: $100,000
Recovery of Costs After Trial
It’s important to note that if your case is tried to verdict and you win, Nevada will require the losing party to pay some of your costs. The following are recoverable costs in Nevada:
1. Clerks’ fees.
2. Reporters’ fees for depositions, including a reporter’s fee for one copy of each deposition.
3. Jurors’ fees and expenses, together with reasonable compensation of an officer appointed to act in accordance with NRS 16.120.
4. Fees for witnesses at trial, pretrial hearings and deposing witnesses, unless the court finds that the witness was called at the instance of the prevailing party without reason or necessity.
5. Reasonable fees of not more than five expert witnesses in an amount of not more than $1,500 for each witness, unless the court allows a larger fee after determining that the circumstances surrounding the expert’s testimony were of such necessity as to require the larger fee.
6. Reasonable fees of necessary interpreters.
7. The fee of any sheriff or licensed process server for the delivery or service of any summons or subpoena used in the action, unless the court determines that the service was not necessary.
8. Compensation for the official reporter or reporter pro tempore.
9. Reasonable costs for any bond or undertaking required as part of the action.
10. Fees of a court bailiff or deputy marshal who was required to work overtime.
11. Reasonable costs for telecopies.
12. Reasonable costs for photocopies.
13. Reasonable costs for long distance telephone calls.
14. Reasonable costs for postage.
15. Reasonable costs for travel and lodging incurred taking depositions and conducting discovery.
16. Fees charged pursuant to NRS 19.0335.
17. Any other reasonable and necessary expense incurred in connection with the action, including reasonable and necessary expenses for computerized services for legal research. NRS 18.005
Many personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about that attorney’s fee structure. It is important know how you will ultimately pay the fee for the personal injury lawyer. Moreover, you will get several opinions about your case and you’ll have a chance to interview multiple lawyers. Just as they are interviewing you, you should be interviewing them. A good attorney can make all of the difference in your case.
At Valiente Mott Injury Attorneys, we always offer free consultations and will spend time with you to explain the pros and cons of your claim and to answer any questions you may have.