Attorney Ben Schwartz explains the various ways that fees can be calculated for Personal Injury Cases.
I am attorney Ben Schwartz and today I’m going to answer a question about attorneys’ fees. Margret on Facebook posted a question she wanted to know; “Why isn’t cost exposed in your advertising”?
Quite frankly it’s not really something that we talked about a lot but it’s something that I think people should be aware of. Attorneys’ fees can be quite expensive. What I wanted to do is give a short blog post and just talk about how attorney fees work. There are three types of attorney fees that you ought to know about if you ever need to hire an attorney.
The first is personal injury cases. Let’s say that you get injured in a car accident or a slip and fall type of case. You go to hire an attorney. It’s pretty standard that in the United States of America the attorney that you go to is going to take the case on what’s called a contingency fee basis. It’s called a contingency fee because it’s contingent on the outcome. You’re not paying the attorney upfront. The attorneys going to work for you for a year or two years and then, in the end, get you a settlement.
The attorneys’ fee is contingent or conditional on the attorney being able to earn that settlement for you. Typically in the United States of America contingent attorney’s fees for personal injury cases are one-third of whatever the settlement is. The fees may be forty percent or I have even seen contingent attorney’s fees as high as 45 or 50 percent depending on the type of case. In Delaware or in car accident and slip and fall cases I think that the standard contingent fee is one-third of the settlement or award is.
The second type of attorney fee I want to talk about is called a flat fee agreement. If you have a criminal case, a traffic ticket case, or let’s say you want to get your will drafted. You go to an attorney and the attorney will most likely charge a flat fee. The fee will be a single fee that you pay all upfront, which will carry you through whatever the matter is. To give you an example; if you have a DUI case or let’s say that you want to hire an attorney for your nephew who got arrested for marijuana possession. You go to a criminal defense attorney, the criminal defense attorney is going to give you a flat fee quote. The attorney might say well I’ll represent your nephew for a $5,000. You pay the $5,000 and your nephews got an attorney. That attorney is going to represent him all the way through trial. You’ll never pay another penny to that attorney because the attorneys taking the matter on a flat fee.
The third type of attorney’s fee is an hourly fee. In some type of cases, the attorney will charge by the hour. Every time they do something on the case they’ll keep a log of it. Then at the end of every month, they will generate a bill and they will take all the time. They will add up all of their time. They will multiply their time by their hourly rate. Then send you a bill. You pay monthly. A good example of that might be you know a family law attorney or an attorney who is representing a corporation in a lawsuit. In the Court of Chancery, the attorney might have a case that will go on for several years. In some months there might not be anything to do and so there might not be any time spent on the case. In other months there might be dozens of hours spent on the case. Then at the end of each month when the attorney generates the bill, the bills going to be based on how much time he or she spent on that case.
Attorney fees in my experience in Delaware range anywhere from you know a little bit under $200. I know attorneys that are charging upwards of $600 an hour. There is a pretty broad range of what attorneys charge you know when their billing by the hour. It really depends on the type of case that they’re handling. If it’s a very simple case you might find an attorney handling it for $200 an hour or $150 an hour. If it’s a very complex or a very important case then you might find that the attorney that’s handling the case is a high-level attorney charging closer to $500 or $600 an hour. The way to find out is when you have a legal issue and you go to an attorney, the way to find out how much it’s going to cost you is to meet with the attorney. Give him or her all the facts and circumstances. Then get a fee quote. Depending on what type of case you’ve got, what type of attorney you’re going to, depending on a lot of different factors. How complex the case is, how much time is going to go into it, whether it’s going to be something that gets over soon or gets over years down the road. Those are the types of things that the attorney will look at in order to determine what the attorney fees going to be. Also, there’s a pretty broad range, a wide range of attorneys that have low hourly rates and attorneys have high hourly rates. If you go to a local attorney who’s got a general practice, then you’re going to find that the hourly rate is probably on the lower end of the scale. If you go to Wilmington and you get an attorney that specializes in corporate bankruptcy restructurings for companies with a market capitalization in excess of $100,000,000, you’re probably going to get an attorney on the high end of the scale. It depends on what attorney you’re going to as well.
Ben Schwartz is the Managing Partner of Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law. If you are searching online for a personal injury attorney, please contact Ben about your case. Ben and the other attorneys in the firm represent people who have been injured in car accidents, personal injury cases, tractor-trailer and bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and dog bites. We have offices in Havertown (suburban Philadelphia), PA, Wilmington, DE and Dover, Delaware. Give us a call today to see if we can help you.