July 22, 2015

Posted: July 22, 2015 | Safety Tips, Car Accidents

Should Reputable Personal Injury Lawyers Charge Hourly Fees?

Most people, injured in an auto accident and looking for a reputable attorney, will ask this question, “What will you charge me and do I have to pay up front.” The answer is usually no, but let’s spend a moment painting the picture, and assume it is you that is in this fictional accident.

Rear End CollisonYou are visiting our city, Newport Beach. Unfortunately you have just had a terrible auto accident. It was not your fault. In fact, let’s say that the other driver was drunk and rear ended you.  You have to go to the hospital, because you badly hurt your knee. You have health insurance but the hospital tells you that your deductible and co-pay will be due, $750.00. Now the doctors are telling you that you need therapy, and may even need surgery. You are unable to work right now, and it looks like you will be off for 6 weeks. Your car is a total loss, and you owe money on it. What are you going to do?

This picture is rather gloomy isn’t it. On top of this nightmare, you get a call from a surly adjuster from the other party’s insurance saying that they are aware of the accident but need a recorded statement, authorizations. Finally he says they are not yet accepting liability because they have not seen the police report. It won’t be ready for another 10 days, you are told.

Is it any wonder why people want to know what a lawyer will cost them up front? They are already losing money to medical bills, have to get a new car, and have no money to even make their mortgage payment if they cannot work.

For over 40 years most reputable lawyers have agreed to represent injury people on a contingency, meaning that they will not charge you any fee unless they succeed on your case. That sounds great, right, but what about costs? Filing fees in Orange County California are $480.00. A deposition is $600 and medical record copies can cost thousands, if it is a large copy project.

About 50% of lawyers that represent you will pay your costs as well, called an advance on the case. So should the lawyer charge you hourly? What if the other party has inadequate insurance, or it turns out did not pay their premium and has no insurance? What about a liability dispute? Who takes the risk? The reputable lawyer on contingency and advancing costs takes those risks with you, an hourly lawyer gets paid no matter what.

The reputable lawyer will charge a fair fee considering the risks of the case and the work that is necessary. Almost all clients in my 30 years of practice do not want to pay an hourly fee. It is too difficult to predict, your cash tight after an accident anyway, and of course the bill can get quite large.

If you are searching for a reputable lawyer, ask if they accept cases on contingency, and also do not forget to ask if they advance costs. In this way you protect yourself, and still share the recovery with your lawyer when your case is successful.

I hope this helps you find the best reputable lawyer you can for your case.

Jim Ballidis is a 30 year personal injury lawyer practicing in Orange County California. Call 949 752-7474 if you have questions or you want his help.