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How Much Does a Baltimore Car Accident Attorney Get Paid?

Hiring the right personal injury lawyer might be one of the most important decisions someone faces. For anyone who has sustained serious or limiting personal injuries in a Baltimore city car accident, the importance of consulting with – and potentially retaining or hiring- a competent, skilled, experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer is a vital step process that is likely to have life-long and potentially life-changing repercussions for the injured.

There are no doubt a variety of factors that the consumer in such a situation would consider. Certainly the background, training, and experience of the lawyer, -and in particular the decades of experience handling personal injury cases -are going to be paramount considerations. Nevertheless, just as important to this determination is the concept of price, pricing or costs to hire worthy personal injury counsel.

Many personal injury cases in Baltimore are handled on what is known as a contingency fee basis. I will discuss more about the specifics later in the article, but, generally, a contingency fee means the lawyer will handle the case from beginning to end for free and if, and only if, there is a financial recovery, will the lawyer receive an agreed-upon percentage of that financial recovery as his or her fee. The contingency fee presents the client with three distinct advantages

  • The risk of losing the case is transferred exclusively from the client to the lawyer
  • The injured individual who is hurt, potentially missing work with mounting medical bills does not have to pay attorneys fees upfront

Perhaps an explanation of the other methods available to hire a personal injury attorney, or a lawyer generally, would be helpful. The common arrangements pursuant to which attorneys are retained are the flat fee agreement, the hourly rate agreement, and the aforementioned contingency fee arrangement for personal injury matters. A flat fee arrangement is no different than you would see in any other profession. The lawyer agrees to provide specified legal services for an agreed-upon price. As an example:  “It will be $100 to prepare a will”, “It will be $500 for an uncontested divorce” and so on. Another common arrangement is an hourly fee basis, which again is no different than many other professions. Here, the lawyer and client agree to a fixed hourly rate, which will be charged to the client for each hour of legal work performed or expended.

The focus, here, obviously is on the third arrangement- the contingency fee. A contingency is something that must occur in order to bring other conditional factors into play.

CONTINGENCY: [ kuhn-tin-juhn-see ] a chance, accident, or possibility conditional on something uncertain.

As an example, a landlord agrees to rent an apartment to you, contingent upon your paying a security deposit, and the first month’s rent. You would be entitled to stay in that apartment contingent upon your continuing to pay rent.  In the context of hiring a personal injury attorney, the contingency is a successful conclusion to the case. In other words, a monetary recovery for the injured person. Any Baltimore personal injury case would resolve invariably in one of two ways. I should say resolve “successfully” in one of two ways. Most personal injury matters resolve by way of settlement between the injured person and the at-fault party or their insurance company. A settlement can occur at any stage of the personal injury claim before or after a lawsuit is filed. If a claim cannot be or is not settled by the parties that “claim” would become a “case” and a lawsuit would be filed in the court of appropriate jurisdiction by your chosen Baltimore personal injury attorney. Depending on the court in which the case is filed, either a jury or a judge would fix the amount of compensation to which the injured person is entitled. There are of course ways that a case could conclude unsuccessfully. Examples here would be a denial of the claim by an insurance company where the injured person decides not to pursue litigation to vindicate their rights. A claim could be met with a successful defense. Examples here might be things such as the statute of limitations or a successful assertion of contributory negligence or statutory immunity. Finally, a case may ultimately be unsuccessful as determined by the jury rendering a defense verdict after trial. While no personal injury attorney takes on cases where these results are certain or likely. The elegance of the contingency fee arrangement truly shines through in these scenarios. It is here, where there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, where there is no monetary recovery at the conclusion of the case, the personal injury has worked diligently and tried a great case, but, though no fault of his own lost on a technicality. Despite that- the client owes nothing. It is for this reason that it is often said that the contingency fee arrangement shifts all of the risks of the litigation onto the personal injury attorney. If the case is unsuccessful for one of the aforementioned reasons, the attorney has worked for free. The important and vital aspect of this arrangement is that if- for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful-the injured person does not owe anything and has spent no money out of pocket. The almost eleemosynary nature of this type of arrangement is apparent when looking at the advancement of litigation costs. Litigation is it expensive prospect. Minimally every lawsuit ever filed would require that the clerk of the court be paid filing fees and that a sheriff for a process server be paid for delivering the paperwork to the defendant. From that point, costs can escalate quickly in a typical Baltimore personal injury. Depositions are taken, and those transcripts can be costly. Generally, a case will be referred to mediation, and person injury mediator’s fees can likewise be expensive. Many cases, and indeed, most personal injury cases, require expert testimony, almost invariably from a doctor, that will describe and relate the injury-causing event and the maladies suffered by the injured person and explain them for a jury, and perhaps also comments on other things such as the reasonableness charges. Expert testimony can likewise be costly. In a case that is unsuccessful, even due to the actions of the injured person, all of these costs are borne exclusively by the personal injury attorney.