Work Injury, Personal Injury and how much attorney Fee. Have you heard the phrase ‘no fee unless we get money for you’. Or heard people talking they only paid their lawyer 20% or have you seen commercials on t.v. that this attorney charges 40% attorney fee and that another attorney fee charges a third and yet another charges 25%, or that ‘legal expenses may apply’. What does it all mean? What are attorneys fees and what are costs or legal expenses.
In Pennsylvania personal injury cases, injury cases can be broken down into different types. Sometimes depending on the type of case you have can dictate how much attorney fee you are going to pay if your lawyer wins or settles your work injury, personal injury or social security disability case.
The phrase ‘no fee unless we get money or benefits for you‘ signifies a contingency fee agreement. Meaning the agreement to pay your lawyer is contingent on your lawyer winning or settling your case. If you win or settle your case (in whole or in part) then the lawyer is entitled to a fee based on a percentage of money you receive. If he loses your case then you should not have to pay a fee.
In personal injury cases such as car accidents, slip and fall accidents, negligence cases, medical malpractice and products liability injury cases typically a lawyer will have you sign a contingency fee agreement (click for case law) to only charge a fee if you win or settle. Typically the lawyer fee in these types of cases is 33.3% (1/3) to 40%. In minor’s personal injury cases the fee must be approved by the court as “reasonable”.
In work injury cases (a type of personal injury case), meaning workers compensation, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act dictates attorney fees. Generally a lawyer can charge no more than 20% attorneys fee. Again the fee must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Judge or Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board.
In Social Security Disability cases again the fees must be approved by the Administrative Law Judge. Generally fees are no more than 25% of back benefits but cannot be greater than $6,000. Thus if back benefits are $100 the fee is $25. If back benefits are $100,000 the fee is $6,000 not $25,000.
Legal expenses, costs or administrative expenses are expenses your lawyer pays in pursuing your case. Most lawyers advance legal expenses, but not all. Meaning your lawyer pays for records and such and at the end of the case if you are successful, you agree to reimburse your lawyer those monies they have paid out of pocket to win your case. If you lose then you do not owe your lawyer for those expenses. Such expenses can include costs for medical records, hearing transcripts, court reporter and witness fees.