How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Accident Lawyer?
Barry Doyle: Every personal injury works on what's called the contingency basis which basically means we don't get paid unless we win. We get paid a percentage of what's recovered. We all recognize that after an accident has happened, that people are stretched financially. They're out of work. They're incurring a lot of extra, unplanned expenses for medical care and so on and so forth. And there's not could be money that's available to pay a lawyer hourly. So we get paid a percentage of what's recovered. Just about personal injury lawyer in the Chicago area will charge a third of what's recovered. Some of them will increase their fee to 40% if the case has been filed. Myself, it increases 40% if there is an appeal that's taken at some point during the case. And that's basically because if there's an appeal, I'm going to be working on a case for probably another two years before the case is actually resolved.
Barry Doyle: In addition, we front the expenses that are involved in working the case up. Pam: What kinds of expenses?
Barry Doyle: It's going to vary from case to case. But there will be charges for medical records, the cost of filing the law suit, for the sheriff to go out and serve the defendant with the copy of the law suit. During the course of the case, documents are going to be sub subpoenaed. Getting copies of what's been subpoenaed has some costs. They're depositions that are taken which is basically a question and answer session with the lawyers. And there's a court report who takes down everything that's said.
Barry Doyle: And over time, all this stuff adds up. Doctors will charge you by the hour. Depending on what kind of doctor's involved in the case. Some of them are a couple hundred dollars an hour. But some of the really specialized surgeons will be a $1000 or more an hour.
Barry Doyle: So those case file expenses add up. As personal injury lawyers, we advance those expenses. But then we have to get those paid back at the end. So to just kind of keep things simple and easy, if I were to take a case on and settle a case for $15,000 and spend $400 working the case up, the fee would be 5000 a third of the 15. I get paid my $400. The client would end up with 9600. Pam: Okay.
Barry Doyle: So the good news to clients is it's kind of a risk-free endeavor for them because if the case is lost, they don't owe us anything.
Pam: So how do you keep costs under control? Can you manage it?
Barry Doyle: Well, it's something that's really born of experience. We know that it doesn't do clients any good to get a million dollar settlement if you send $999,000 getting it. You don't need a gold-plated case. On the other hand, you don't want to have a case that's starved of resources.
The question that I ask when I'm working case up is, "Is this something that I need to advance the case? Is this something that's going to ultimately add value to the case when things are all said and done?" And truthfully as the lifeline of the case goes on, the expenses kind of go up in an upward slope. Not just by virtue of the fact that there's more time involved. But as cases get closer to the point of going to trial, you end up incurring a lot more expense in the sense of you're taking more depositions, you're paying for doctors, you're paying for expert witnesses. That kind of thing. If I take a case on and settle before suits ever file, I may spend less than $100 on it. But just filing the law suit and sending the sheriff out to serve the defendant with a law suit, typically runs about $400.
So these expenses add up over time. But the greatest amount of expense really gets incurred in the last two to four months before a case goes to trial. Pam: All right.
Barry Doyle: One of the discussions that I have with a client when a settlement offer is made as we're reaching the point when a case is going into trial is I'm going to have a discussion with them about this is what's it's going to cost going forth. And that's money that comes out of your portion of the settlement when things are all said and done. Do you want to make that investment? And that's something that clients have to make based on their sense of values, their own tolerance for risk.
Pam: This has been Fighting for What's Right with attorney Barry Doyle. Feel free to subscribe to our You Tube channel.