I encourage those that have been injured in automobile accidents and other personal injury causing mishaps to explore the various attorney fee payment methods available when hiring a personal injury lawyer. Probably the most common and widely accepted method and formula for payment for labor, and certainly the most frequently used for the last century or so, is payment based on hours worked. Whether that payment is for an 8 hour shift as a clerk at a convenience store, a shift on an assembly line in a plant, hours expended in the preparation of a tax return, or for an attorney performing work on his or her client’s case, the idea is the same. An hourly amount for each hour of work. An agreed upon amount for each hour of labor performed is a long-standing time-honored and virtually universally accepted method of payment for services. Another frequently used method of payment for services rendered is a flat fee or “by the job rate”. Whether that is for craftsman constructing a patio deck, a doctor's fee for needed surgery, or an agreed-upon fixed amount for an attorney to handle a case, the concept here is the same. A flat fixed fee is an agreed-upon amount, in full, for the completion of the task rather than payment for the amount of time necessary to complete the job. There may be other methods of payment that you and the attorney of your choosing in your personal injury matter can explore, and agree to, if appropriate. You and your attorney should discuss preferred alternative fee arrangements, such as flat rates, or hourly billing. I consistently see that the contingency fee arrangement is usually the best method available in the typical personal injury case. In my experience, an individual insured in an accident who is in pain and often disabled temporarily, or perhaps permanently out of work and unable to meet normal household expenses due to financial strain, is typically not going to be able to pay an attorney by the hour, or front a flat fee to handle their personal injury case. The contingency fee arrangement is uniquely and ideally suited for precisely this type of situation. The injury victim, who has their own recuperation deserving of their full time and attention, just does not need to worry about the upfront payment of an attorney. To the extent that there are family resources available during the process of recovery, those financial resources should be devoted and allocated to the needs of the family. An attorney handling the case for free, or on a deferred payment basis, uniquely and singularly meets those needs.
There are other advantages as well. Perhaps the primary of these is that the attorney under a contingency fee arrangement assumes the risk of the case not being successful. If, for whatever reason, the claim does not result in a recovery of monetary compensation for the injury victim, the attorney is not paid There are a variety of reasons then they claim might not be successful.
Perhaps the insured individual is determined to have caused or contributed in some way to the happening of the accident and barred from recovery.
Perhaps there is no insurance available to cover the loss.
Perhaps the injured person just simply decides not to pursue the case.
In all of these scenarios, the attorney handling the case has worked for free.
Certainly, anyone that would agree that free labor, especially the services of a skilled injury lawyer, gratis, is an enormous benefit.
Under a contingency fee arrangement a personal injury attorney is typically willing to advance to the client the cost of the case. These may range from the payment of medical records, up to the hiring of a skilled surgeon or physician who may be called upon to provide expert opinions in the case. If there is a monetary recovery, then these advanced costs are typically reimbursed. If there is no recovery, the attorney simply consumes the costs as that of a cost of doing business. If there is not recovery, then the client is typically not responsible, unless a contrary agreement has been reached.