How Do Contingency and Lawyers’ Fees Work?

After you have been injured in a car accident, you’re going to have a lot of bills: medical expenses, property damage costs, and all of your regular day-to-day bills. These can seem insurmountable, and if you are out of work for a while, it can start to feel like you’re playing catch-up in a game you can’t win.

If you’re worried about the added expense of hiring a car accident injury lawyer, you shouldn’t be. We take cases on contingency, which makes life a little simpler for you.

Understanding how contingency fee arrangements work in North Dakota

The American Bar Association (ABA) defines contingency this way:

“In a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage… of the recovery, which is the amount finally paid to the client. If you win the case, the lawyer’s fee comes out of the money awarded to you. If you lose, neither you nor the lawyer will get any money, but you will not be required to pay your attorney for the work done on the case.”

What does that mean for you? It means you don’t have to pay for anything upfront, like:

  • Court filing fees
  • Medical record fees
  • Costs for hiring an outside expert, like an accident reconstructionist
  • Document fees from our office
  • Other incidental costs

In your initial consultation with a prospective lawyer, he or she will discuss the nature of these fees, and how much you should be prepared to cover regardless of the outcome of your case. North Dakota law requires that lawyers charge fees that are reasonable under the circumstances.

What about my lawyer’s fees?

You can look at lawyers’ fees as being separated into two boxes. In the first box goes all of the incidental costs we listed above, plus anything else that arises. Those are the types of costs you will incur whether you win or lose your case.

In the other box is the attorney’s pay – the rate or percentage that he or she collects for doing the work on your behalf. When your North Dakota car accident lawyer takes your injury case on contingency, he or she is saying that if you aren’t awarded any money (in a settlement or a jury verdict), then he or she will not and cannot collect a fee from you. In other words, our pay is contingent on a successful outcome: “if you don’t win, you don’t pay.”

If you are still feeling wary, know that that attorneys who work on contingency end up paying for themselves, because they secure higher awards for their clients than those clients would if they were unrepresented, according to the Insurance Research Council (IRC). Per the IRC, personal injury victims who are represented by attorneys also wait less time to be receive their settlements.

Dealing with fees after you win

Once you win, your award will likely be placed in trust. First, your outstanding medical expenses will be paid. Then, any costs that the firm advances will be deducted. Finally, we take our fee, which is based off of the net amount of your award. Once all of these costs are deducted, then you are given the rest of the money.

Please note that things like storage fees, towing fees, rental fees, and so forth may or may not be part of your claim. If they are, then they should be deducted before you are given your award. If not, then you may need to pay them out-of-pocket. It depends on your insurance policy, and the nature of your crash.

At Larson Law Firm, P.C. our experienced North Dakota car accident injury attorneys are here to fight for you when you have been hurt because of another person’s negligence. To arrange a free consultation about your case at one of our offices in Minot or Bismarck, call us today at 701.484.HURT or send us a message through our contact form now.



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