It is standard that after contacting a personal injury attorney, the prospective client is left to determine whether he or she has been quoted a fair fee. In Alaska and most jurisdictions across the United States, personal injury attorneys charge a “contingency fee” for their services.
But what is a “contingency fee”?
A contingency fee is an arrangement whereby a lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the recovery a client receives. If the client wins the case, the lawyer’s fee comes out of the money awarded to the client. But if the client loses the case, the lawyer recovers no fee at all. The contingency fee is the standard fee arrangement in personal injury cases.
What is a fair fee in a personal injury case?
Most clients working with an attorney are new to the legal system and are forced to determine whether a fee is fair. In Alaska, many attorneys offer a sliding fee scale that increases over time. For example, the current fee scale used at Power & Power Law contemplates a pretrial settlement, trial, and an appeal. At the trial stage and at the appeal stage, the fee automatically increases. This increase is intended to account for the additional efforts and costs associated with trial and appeal.
Generally, the contingency fee base starts between 33.33%-40% and in sliding fee contracts, increases by 3%-5% at each stage. Where the contingency fee base starts is often case-specific, and is dictated by the difficulty of proving case facts, the existing case law affecting liability and damages, and the prospective costs of litigating the case. For instance, though victims of medical malpractice often suffer significant damages, their cases are difficult to prove and very costly to litigate. At Power & Power Law, the fee base for medical malpractice cases is almost always 40%.
What about these personal injury litigation costs?
So what about these personal injury litigation costs referenced above? The primary advantage of the contingency fee system is that a client does not have to fund the litigation up front, and at Power & Power Law this includes the payment of costs. Further, if no recovery is obtained for the client, he or she is not required to repay our firm for the costs expended.
Why do attorneys use the contingency fee system?
A personal injury case is generally initiated by a life-changing traumatic injury or death that results in financial loss to an individual or family. A system without contingency fees would require victims of negligence and recklessness to pay an attorney hourly rates at $250/hour and higher, all while coping with a loss income and mounting bills like medical expenses and funeral costs. It would render the civil justice system accessible only to the wealthy.
The personal injury attorneys at Power & Power Law are committed to representing all citizens who are victims of another’s negligence and ensuring that the justice system is accessible to everyone.
What if, after all that, a question of fairness remains?
A fair fee is determined by the relationship you establish with your attorney. Attorneys are not car salesmen. If your initial encounter with an attorney leads you to believe otherwise, continue your search until you find an attorney with whom you are comfortable working. A personal injury attorney, like those at Power & Power Law, will invest countless hours and often thousands of dollars in prosecuting a client’s claim. The willingness of clients and attorneys alike to mutually invest and risk financial loss to promote fairness and obtain justice, must be the primary consideration.
Bottom Line, a personal injury client can always afford an attorney
The bottom line is that under the contingency fee system, a person injured in a car or airplane accident, or as a consequence of medical malpractice or sexual assault, can always afford a personal injury attorney.
Contact a personal injury attorney today!
It generally costs nothing to consult with a personal injury attorney. Indeed, Power & Power Law offers free case consultations. And, many other Alaska law offices do, too. Conduct a search and consult with other attorneys in the same jurisdiction. If in doubt, start by contacting Power & Power Law and call us at 907-222-9990 or toll free at 833-669-9990 or complete the contact form below.