When you consider hiring a lawyer, it’s understandable to want to know how much you can expect to pay for their expertise. Since personal injury claims filed with an injury attorney have a much higher success rate than those without legal representation, the cost of hiring a lawyer is a good investment. Keep reading to learn what percentage of your settlement you can expect to pay in Houston, TX.
How Much of My Settlement Goes to the Injury Attorney?
Most Texas injury attorneys’ fees are between 33% and 40% of the settlement. Usually, personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency basis, meaning they only charge you for their services if your case is closed successfully. Contingency fee arrangements benefit clients because they prevent clients from being responsible for attorney fees even if their case is unsuccessful.
In addition, since the average person pursuing a personal injury claim is doing so in an attempt to alleviate the financial strain caused by their injury, this payment method prevents them from facing further financial difficulties if they don’t win their case. However, when hiring a lawyer, discuss all aspects of their fees before committing to working together. That ensures there are no surprises and you are comfortable with their payment plan.
Alternative Fee Arrangements
While contingency agreements are the most common fee arrangement for injury attorneys in Houston, TX, other structures exist. In certain situations, a lawyer may require a different payment structure, which is why you’ll want to ask questions about their payment requirements upfront.
Fixed or Flat Fee
A fixed or flat fee is where a lawyer charges you a set amount for their services. This payment arrangement is frequently used for routine and easy-to-navigate situations. For example, fixed fee arrangements are commonly used in cases such as uncontested divorces, traffic tickets, and executing uncomplicated wills.
However, they are rare in personal injury claims since it is challenging to determine the amount of time a lawyer will have to spend on the case. In addition, injury cases can be settled quickly or require your lawyer to represent you in court. This unpredictability makes setting a fair flat rate nearly impossible.
This arrangement is prevalent and makes for simple billing without surprises for the client or attorney. The hourly rate charged will vary from lawyer to lawyer. You’ll want to ask your lawyer for an estimate of how many hours they think your case will take so that you are informed of the projected costs from the start of your case.
Your lawyer will estimate the time your case will require based on similar cases they have handled. Keep in mind, since each case is unique, this number is flexible, and the actual hours billed for your case could vary drastically if your case ends up being easy to resolve or takes more work than anticipated.
Many lawyers who work for an hourly rate will ask you to place a down payment on their services at the beginning of your working arrangement. This downpayment is a retainer, and your legal expenses will be deducted from it until it is gone.
After the retainer has been used up, your attorney will either bill you for the additional hours spent on your case or request an additional retainer. Retainer fees can also be used to pay a lawyer to be available to handle your legal needs over a period of time.
Expenses During Your Claim
When your lawyer is working on a contingency basis, they will usually pay for the costs and expenses related to your case. Some lawyers may bill you as the expenses occur, but that is not common in personal injury cases. Once you have received your settlement or been awarded compensation by the court, you will reimburse your lawyer for the expenses. Some of the costs you may be responsible for include:
- Court filing fees
- Copying fees for police reports
- Copying fees for medical records
- Hiring an expert witness
- Hiring an investigator
- Trial exhibitions
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Make the Other Party Pay My Lawyer Fees?
The standard in Houston, TX, and all American courts, is that, regardless of whether you win or lose your case, you are responsible for paying your attorney fees. However, there are some occasions where one party may have to pay for the opposing party’s legal representation.
For example, sometimes courts will impose lawyer fees on one party in the interest of fairness. Another exception would be if a law directly states one side is responsible for the other party’s legal fees or a term of the settlement contract includes payment of lawyer fees.
What Is a Sliding Scale for Attorney Fees?
Some lawyers will offer a contingency fee that accounts for the amount of work a case requires and how far it has progressed before reaching a settlement. This type of fee is typically referred to as a “sliding scale.” An example of a sliding scale option in practice would be a lawyer agreeing to accept a 30% contingency fee if your case can be settled through negotiation and 33% if your injury lawsuit must be filed in court.
However, if your case goes to trial, your contingency could be closer to 40% since your lawyer will have to do more work to prepare your case. Alternatively, a lawyer may request a lower contingency fee on uncomplicated claims that will settle quickly and a higher percentage on complex or time-intensive cases.
What Is in a Lawyer’s Fee Agreement?
The fee agreement is the contract that protects you and your lawyer by outlining the services that will be rendered and the amount of money you will be paying for your attorney’s services. A well-crafted fee agreement will detail the extent of the representation you can expect from your lawyer, who will be handling your case, the rules for terminating the lawyer-client relationship, who is responsible for expenses, and the amount you will be paying your lawyer.
Since the fee agreement is legally binding, don’t sign it unless you are confident you understand it and accept the terms. If there’s language in the contract you don’t understand, ask your lawyer to explain it in layman’s terms. A quality lawyer will want to ensure you know what you are signing.
Who Pays If the Case Is Unsuccessful?
Your written fee agreement must state which party will be responsible for costs if you do not win your case. It should also include who is responsible if you win your case, but the settlement amount is less than the costs and lawyer fees. Talk to your lawyer about this when discussing their rate, as sometimes lawyers are willing to negotiate if you have a very straightforward case. You and your injury lawyer will typically agree on one of three options.
The first is that the law firm doesn’t charge you for the costs if you don’t recover anything from your case. The second is that the lawyer and you agree to split any expenses if the case is unsuccessful. Or the final option is that you agree to reimburse the lawyer for all costs relating to your lawsuit even if your case is unsuccessful (except for attorney fees if your lawyer is working on contingency).
Work With Experienced Lawyers in Houston, TX
A quality attorney will significantly increase your chances of reaching a lucrative settlement and help streamline the claims process. In addition, they can negotiate to get you the most money possible for your injuries and represent you in court if you file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
By working with a seasoned law firm, you can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Reach out to the Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, today, and have confidence that your case is in capable hands.