How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Lawyer in Fort Mill, SC?
How much does a lawyer cost? The truth is that there is no all-purpose answer to that question. It depends on what type of lawyer you need, what kind of case you have, and what is at stake. If you are seeking a personal injury lawyer specifically, however, you’ll likely need to know about the contingency fee payment system.
This blog post will cover how much it costs to hire Fort Mill personal injury attorneys. What you should know at the onset is that hiring an attorney in this area of the law might cost you a lot less than might think.
The Contingency Fee System
One benefit of a successful personal injury claim is that it generates income. The same cannot be said for many fields of law, such as criminal law. Since a personal injury claim generates income, a winning lawyer can use that income to pay their legal fees.
A contingency fee is a pre-agreed percentage of whatever amount of money you win, either in court or at the negotiating table. Typically, the contingency fee amount ranges from 30% to 40%. That amount comes out of your economic damages, your non-economic damages, and your punitive damages (if you get any).
The Initial Consultation
How much does it cost to talk to a lawyer? If you have anything that sounds like it might be a viable personal injury claim, an initial consultation with a lawyer will almost certainly be free. After all, how else will a personal injury lawyer find clients?
If your claim is large and you are seriously injured (two circumstances that tend to go together), the lawyer might even visit you in the hospital.
The lawyer will ask you questions designed to determine the value of your claim. If they like your claim, they will probably offer to represent you. If a personal injury lawyer agrees to represent you on a contingency basis, you can be almost certain they believe they can win your claim.
Upfront Charges (“Retainers”)
Personal injury lawyers do not charge upfront fees. In other words, as long as your claim is strong, you can retain a personal injury lawyer without a dime in your pocket. Ultimately, it is the losing party who pays your legal fees, not you.
The Sliding Scale
The contingency fee percentage varies depending on the case. For instance, a case that goes all the way to trial might have a higher contingency fee than one that is resolved before filing a lawsuit. In most cases, it will be around 33%.
What Happens If You Lose?
Personal injury lawyers typically win the vast majority of their cases. The main reason for this is that they only take strong cases. If they don’t think they can win the case, they will refuse the representation.
If you do lose, however, you won’t owe the lawyer anything in terms of attorney’s fees.
Personal injury claims tend to generate case expenses, and some cases generate more expenses than others. Following are some examples of typical case expenses:
- Accounting professional service fees
- Administrative expenses
- Court filing fees
- Deposition costs
- Expert witness fees
- Investigation expenses
- Legal research costs
- Litigation materials
- Medical record acquisition fees
- Medical reports and analysis fees
- Mileage and transportation costs
- Office supplies
- Paralegal services
- Photocopying and printing charges
- Postage and courier costs
- Service of process fees
- Subpoena fees
- Telephone and communication charges
- Transcript costs
- Travel expenses (for attorneys and staff)
- Trial exhibit preparation costs
- Video recording and production expenses
Many personal injury lawyers will pay these case expenses up front. If you win, they will deduct them from your winnings. If you lose, they will eat the loss. Some personal injury lawyers, however, will ask you to pay case expenses, win or lose. Clarify this issue with your lawyer before you sign the fee agreement.
Special Case: Contingency Fees in Workers’ Compensation Cases
The South Carolina Code of Regulations Section 67-1205 limits workers’ compensation attorney contingency fees to 33.3% in most cases. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission must specifically approve any payment as well.
Is a Contingency Fee Worth Paying?
At first glance, 30% to 40% sounds like a lot of money out of your verdict or settlement. After all, if you win $100,000, you’ll only take home $60,000 to $70,000 that way, assuming no other deductions.
But suppose you represent yourself and lose. Then you’ll take home nothing. Alternatively, suppose you represent yourself, but you only win $30,000. That’s a lot less than $60,000 to $70,000.
The point is, if a lawyer can triple or quadruple your settlement, you’ll come out way ahead even after you pay the contingency fee.
The Billable Hour Arrangement
Under the typical billable hour agreement, you pay the lawyer a lump sum retainer, and the lawyer deducts their hourly rate times the number of hours they spent on your case.
How much does it cost to have a lawyer on retainer? That depends on the lawyer. Lawyers who charge retainers generally charge by the billable hour. The average lawyer charges hundreds of dollars per hour. Consequently, the average retainer is thousands of dollars. Fortunately, none of this applies to personal injury law. It does apply to certain other practice areas.
The Flat Fee Arrangement
Some lawyers charge a flat fee for their services–$2,500 for an immigration visa application, for example, or $3,000 to draft a last will and testament. Personal injury lawyers almost never charge a flat fee.
Not Hiring a Lawyer: The Most Expensive Option of All
In almost every situation, not hiring a lawyer at all is your most expensive option–especially in personal injury law. The real cost is the opportunity cost. Instead of walking away with a five- or six-figure settlement, you walk away with nothing or with a pittance.
Remember that a lawyer working on a contingency fee basis has no incentive to exaggerate the value of your claim. If they think they can win your claim, they’re probably right.
Schedule a Free Consultation To Discuss Your Legal Options
You might not need a lawyer to represent you for a minor fender-bender. Any accident serious enough to injure you, however, should generate enough concern to schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.