Personal injury attorneys charge on a contingency basis rather than charging an hourly fee. This means that you only pay if your case is successful. If you lose the case, you pay nothing. Contingency fees have pros and cons. As the client, it's good for you because you can hire an attorney for free. On the other hand, if you win you will probably feel like you are paying a lot -- the fee is a third of what you get at trial or settlement. For the attorney, it's a risk to take a case this way because if the case is lost the attorney has essentially worked for free. However, the reward is a substantial fee if the case is won.
Ask about additional costs
Sometimes an attorney will ask the client pay for the costs of litigation, such as court filing fees or printing/copying costs, or fees for gathering medical records. Ask up front whether the firm will cover these costs or whether it's the client's responsibility. In general, a firm that has an established personal injury practice will not ask the client to cover these expenses.
Get the fee agreement in writing
If after discussing the fee arrangement you decide to hire the attorney, the first thing you should do is get the fee agreement in writing. This will avoid any disagreement down the road as to how your attorney will be paid.
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