When many of our clients first hear about contingency fees they’re happy. They don’t have to come up with a massive retainer or pay exorbitant hourly fees. They can focus on healing.
Yet when the settlement is done they often start to ask themselves if they could have done better without a lawyer. After all, legal fees may eat up 33% to 45% of their settlement. Are they really better off?
In almost every case, yes. They are vastly better off.
According to Nolo.com the average compensation in a personal injury case is about $52,900.
According to the same survey, having a lawyer could determine whether you received a payout at all. Only 51% of the people who tried to represent themselves got any settlement. 91% of those who got a lawyer did.
Those who tried to handle their own claims walked away with $17,600 on average, whereas those with lawyers walked away with $77,600 on average.
Even if a lawyer took 45% of that the person with the lawyer walks away with $42,680, nearly three times more than the person without any representation at all. The differences are even more stark in major injury cases where the amounts are higher and where defendant lawyers fight harder to avoid paying the bill.
Keep in mind that few people get rich on personal injury claims at all, especially here in Canada. There are caps on punitive damages here in Alberta: $349,000. There are caps on pain and suffering too: $317,000.
A great deal of the money goes to covering medical expenses, and in fact the basis of economic damages will be those exact expenses. Much of the rest is there to help you live after your accident has stripped certain abilities from you, until you can either take care of yourself, or because you can’t.
To achieve these things you need legal advice, services, and experts, including investigators and expert witnesses. They all need to get paid too. Getting your legal fees covered is just part of the process of being “made whole” after an accident.
Fortunately most settlements do take some of that into account and are set accordingly. You should still have what you need when the lawyer’s fees are handled.
In addition, personal injury law is one of the few arenas in which you can get away with paying your lawyer nothing at all if you lose the case. One of the reasons a lawyer’s percentage is high is because you’re asking that lawyer to assume a certain amount of risk on your behalf: the risk that the lawyer will put in many hours of unpaid work.
Ideally you’ll partner with a lawyer you’ll be happy to see paid when the time comes. You’ll be pleased by that lawyer’s hard work and you’ll have a good idea of everything it took to win your case.
Meet some of ours! Schedule a free consultation today, and find out if we’re the right lawyers for you.