How Do Personal Injury Attorneys Get Paid From a Settlement
Personal injury attorneys get paid from a settlement if they charge what is called a contingency fee. Once you receive your settlement check, you must subtract some or all of the following expenses:
- Your representative’s attorneys’ fees
- The cost of fighting your case
- Medical liens
What Are Attorneys’ Fees?
Attorneys’ fees are the amount you pay a lawyer for taking your case and putting in the effort required to fight for your settlement. Different law firms charge attorneys’ fees in different ways. One common model is the contingency fee model, which allows you to:
- Get legal help immediately without paying attorneys’ fees out of pocket
- Pay your lawyer from your personal injury settlement after you win
- Not pay any attorneys’ fees if you lose
Typically, a law firm charges a specific percentage, rather than a dollar amount, in attorneys’ fees. For example, say your Las Vegas personal injury lawyer charges a 30 percent contingency fee. If you win $300,000, the attorneys’ fee would be $90,000. If you win $1 million, the fee would be $300,000.
In some cases, you can include attorneys’ fees and other legal costs as part of your settlement. This way, the liable party shoulders more of the burden of paying for legal representation.
How Are Attorneys’ Fees Determined?
Rule 1.5 of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct protects clients by preventing lawyers from charging “unreasonable” amounts and from hiding their fees from clients. The rule states that personal injury lawyers must calculate their fees based on a sensible estimation of factors like:
- How difficult your case is
- How much time the lawyer must spend on your case (for instance, will they have to turn down other cases to finish yours?)
- How much your case is worth
- How skillful and experienced the lawyer is
- How much time the lawyer has to close the case
If you do not feel your lawyer is treating or charging you fairly, it is your right to hire someone else. Make sure you are clear on the fee agreement before you sign anything to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
How Much Does Fighting for a Settlement Cost?
In addition to attorneys’ fees, which only pay for your lawyer’s labor and representation, personal injury attorneys may charge you for other costs they incur while building or fighting your case, such as:
- Filing paperwork with the court or sending paperwork to other parties
- Traveling to and from the courtroom, the scene of the accident, and other locations
- Paying experts to testify on your behalf
- Paying others to help research your case (e.g., tracking down witnesses)
- Requesting documentary evidence to support your testimony
When personal injury attorneys get paid from a settlement, they will also want to be reimbursed for these and other legal costs. Unlike attorneys’ fees, which you may not have to pay if you do not win your case, your lawyer will probably expect you to pay legal costs regardless of how your case turns out.
Before hiring a lawyer, you may find it helpful to ask how much they might need to spend in your case. While not set in stone, this estimate can give you a rough idea of how much you can expect to pay.
Must I Pay Medical Liens From My Settlement?
In Nevada, a lien is “a claim or charge by a creditor upon the real property of a debtor.” In particular, a medical lien is when your healthcare providers lay claim to part of your personal injury settlement to cover your unpaid medical bills.
You might have to pay medical liens if:
- You have a large number of medical bills that you cannot pay right away
- You do not have health insurance that will cover your bills
- Your healthcare providers agree to wait until you recover a settlement to receive payment
Must I Pay Taxes on a Settlement?
You may or may not have to pay taxes on your personal injury settlement. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states that settlements are often, but not always, exempt from federal taxes. In addition, you may or may not owe state taxes.
Your lawyer can determine if and how much you must pay in taxes, and when the government will expect that payment. You can also consult a professional accountant for further assistance.
Is an Attorney Worth the Cost?
After an injury, you probably aren’t feeling your best, and you may wonder whether it’s worth going through all the trouble of hiring an attorney and filing a personal injury claim.
Before you make a decision, do some preliminary research on personal injury lawyers in your area. Many offer a free, over-the-phone case evaluation, so finding out about your rights and your case’s worth would cost you only a few minutes of your time.
If you find a firm you like, you can arrange a meeting with a lawyer from that firm. You would then have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you need, including:
- How much are your attorneys’ fees, and when will you expect payment?
- How much do you think it will cost to complete my case?
- How much do you think my case could be worth?
- How long will it take to get compensation?
- What happens if I lose my case and get no compensation?
Taking legal action after an accident can indeed be a lengthy process, but your lawyer can guide you through every step. With their assistance, you could receive fair compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost income or job benefits
- Lost employment
- Physical and emotional suffering
- Loss of consortium
Talk to Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today
The personal injury attorneys at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers can represent you if someone else’s negligence caused your injury. If you have questions about how we get paid from a settlement, how we can handle your case, or other legal matters, reach out to our office today.