After an accident, you might wonder how much money you can get for your injuries, physical pain, and emotional suffering. Your compensation in a personal injury case should cover your expenses and noneconomic losses. However, the final settlement figure will differ from the check you actually receive. You must account for your lawyer’s fees and other costs.
How a Contingency Fee Works
Most personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee. A contingency fee is a fixed percentage the lawyer and client agree to before signing a retainer agreement. The percentage comes from the final settlement amount (if one is recovered) to cover legal fees and costs.
The typical contingency fee is 33.3 percent if the case settles outside court. If filing a lawsuit is necessary, the fee can increase to 40 percent. That’s because lawsuits are more expensive than injury claims. They also require more work, especially if the case proceeds to trial.
A personal injury lawsuit involves various expenses an attorney pays upfront and then recoups from the financial award if the judge or jury rules in their client’s favor. These expenses can include:
- Interpreters’ fees for a deposition or trial
- Process server fees
- Court filing fees
- Court report fees for depositions, including the fee for providing a certified copy of the transcript
- Reasonable costs for postage, digital and printed copies, and necessary travel for depositions
- Pretrial hearing, witness, and jurors’ fees if the lawsuit goes to trial
- Additional fees and costs related to the case
When you agree to a contingency fee, you avoid upfront payment for the attorney to represent you. You don’t have to pay ongoing fees either. Instead, your lawyer takes their fees and case-related costs from the compensation they secure for you. If they lose your case, you won’t owe them any money.
Calculating the Value of a Personal Injury Case
Calculating noneconomic losses like pain and suffering is a challenge. Unlike medical treatment and other expenses that come with physical bills, pain and suffering requires a special calculation. Your personal injury attorney will likely use the multiplier method or per diem approach to determine the value of your case.
The multiplier method involves a multiplier between one and five to indicate the severity of an accident victim’s injury. The multiplier depends on the level of pain and suffering due to the accident.
A one or two often describes a minor to moderate injury that requires some medical care but will likely heal. A five represents a disabling or permanent injury that can cause long-term issues such as loss of mobility, chronic pain, or cognitive impairment.
Your attorney will add your financial losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, and multiply the total by the multiplier they determine is appropriate. The final number is the starting point for negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method calculates your daily pain and suffering based on the wages you can’t earn due to your injury. The calculation involves adding your total lost wages and multiplying it by the number of working days you miss.
Although calculating the effects of pain and suffering on lost income is more straightforward with the per diem method, it often doesn’t account for the long-term consequences of a debilitating injury. Determining the value of a case involving a permanent condition requiring ongoing treatment and assistance is complex. The multiplier method might make more sense if the injury has long-term consequences.
Additional Costs to Consider After Recovering Compensation
The insurance company will mail your lawyer the final check if you agree to a settlement or reach a favorable jury verdict during a lawsuit. The money typically stays in a trust or escrow account while the attorney settles other bills.
Aside from their legal fees and costs, your attorney must pay the medical bills you owe. Medical liens are common in personal injury cases. It reimburses the insurance company for covering the cost of treatment when a patient can’t afford to pay upfront. Your lawyer might be able to negotiate these liens for a reduced amount. They can use a smaller portion of your settlement to satisfy this debt instead of paying the total balance.
You might also have medical bills you haven’t paid since the case started. Some healthcare professionals are willing to place a hold on a patient’s account. A letter of protection is an agreement a lawyer signs to use part of the settlement or monetary award from the lawsuit to cover unpaid bills. Like liens, your lawyer might be able to negotiate lower payments.
After settling your liens and medical bills, your attorney will print your final check with the money remaining in the trust or escrow account.
Injured in an Accident? Call Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers Now
You don’t have to pursue a personal injury case alone. Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers has extensive experience representing injured clients in New Jersey. We will aggressively pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.
Call us at (973) 364-8300 for a free consultation if you got hurt in an accident someone else caused.
Written by: Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers Last Updated : May 9, 2023