Attorney Compensation in a Motor Vehicle Lawsuit
Your Legal Guide to Wyoming Car Accidents
My firm does personal injury cases on a contingent fee, where you do not pay anything out-of-pocket. When we win the case, we take a percentage. If we lose the case, I take the loss. If you are interested in an alternative fee arrangement, I will hear you out. Also, be advised that the fee arrangement discussed here is my general practice. Occasionally, because your case is specific to you, we may work out slight variations of the arrangements described here. You will sign and keep a copy of the Client Agreement so it will be laid out in writing for you. Here are how the fees generally work:
In Wyoming, most lawyers charge between 33% and 40% for a contingent fee case. In my firm, we start at 33% and step up to 40% if the case is not resolved within 90 days of filing. On top of the legal fee, there are costs associated with every case. My firm will front the costs of litigation. For example, we pay the filing fees, service of process fees, deposition costs, court reporter costs, expert witness costs, and a myriad of other costs associated with your case. At the end of the case, those costs are reimbursed from the amount we win.
Let’s say we win $100,000 at trial. Since a trial usually happens more than 90 days after the case is filed, the firm gets 40% or $40,000. On top of that, the firm spent $10,000 over the 12 months leading up to trial on your case. You would receive $100,000 minus $40,000 minus $10,000, or $50,000. However, if there are medical liens in the case, your recovery would be reduced by the amount of the liens because we have to pay the liens.
In every case, I provide you with an itemized spreadsheet showing the amount won, the fee, and the expenses. I do not distribute any money until you sign off on the breakdown and distribution statement.
A certain kind of person will read about the attorney fee compensation and conclude it is a racket. After all, how hard can it be to negotiate with an insurance company or try a case to a jury and get a judgment? This person may even do arithmetic and conclude that, even if they gets less money by themselves, they are probably not getting less money after he factors in the cost of hiring a lawyer.
That person is wrong.
The insurance industry studied this exact question. The Insurance Research Council (an insurance industry group) wanted to know if injured people who represented themselves ultimately got more money than injured people who hired a lawyer. They found that, in general, the injured people with lawyers received more money even after paying their lawyers fees. Various studies suggest that the injured parties receive on average 3 times as much, even after paying their lawyer.
That is amazing to me. Insurance companies have every incentive to cherry pick statistics to make lawyers look bad and they could not do it. I take those specific estimates with a grain of salt but the result overall makes a lot of sense based on my professional experience.
I have had several clients that came to me after getting frustrated with insurance companies and their lowball offers. For one client, the insurance company offered zero dollars; I got her a $100,000 policy limits settlement. Another client was offered only $400, and we ultimately recovered the policy limits $100,000 for her, too. These are my best examples and I share them because I am proud of the results I got for these clients.
Occasionally, folks will try to negotiate the percentages with their attorney. In rare situations that may be appropriate but, in my experience in Wyoming, anyone who is any good at this is already busy enough.Download the Guide