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Lawyer's Cut of Settlement: Your Questions Answered Here - morgan and morgan
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Lawyer's Cut of Settlement: Your Questions Answered Here

Lawyer's Cut of Settlement: Your Questions Answered Here

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Lawyer's Cut of Settlement: Your Questions Answered Here

One of the most frequent objections people have to hire a lawyer is the cost associated with legal representation. After all, lawyers are not cheap, nor should they be. The law is complicated, and gaining compensation for injuries can be time-consuming. Furthermore, it's not good enough to simply have a law degree. It takes a seasoned expert to represent your side in settlement negotiations or at trial effectively. 

Hiring a lawyer comes with tremendous benefits that many people don't consider. Some things to think about are how we save you time, our previous experience with similar cases, our knowledge of the court systems, and most importantly, our ability to gain higher settlements for our clients. This article is going to illuminate the lawyer's cut of a settlement: your questions answered in detail. 

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  • What is a contingency fee? 

    The most common arrangement lawyers have with clients is working on an hourly basis. An experienced lawyer may charge more per hour than one with less experience. Some lawyers also charge more for work performed in the courtroom than for time spent in their office. This common arrangement is why many people fear hiring a lawyer. The costs can skyrocket, especially if it's a complicated case.

    However, a contingency basis arrangement can alleviate these fears substantially because the lawyer doesn't get their fees unless they are successful with the case. Contingency fee arrangements are only for cases where there is potential financial compensation. It is never used in a criminal trial. 

    Typically, contingency fees are used in personal injury law, and your lawyer will agree to accept your case in exchange for a fixed percentage of your award. The payment comes directly out of the settlement or court-awarded compensation when received. This usually ranges from 33 to 40 percent of the award. The larger percentage is if your lawyer has to take the case to trial. If your lawyer loses the case, they don't get paid, and neither do you. That is why lawyers that work on a contingent fee basis are careful which cases they take on. 

    If your case has no merit or is unlikely to win an award, a personal injury lawyer would not take the risk of spending a great deal of time and resources on it just to come up empty-handed. While this may seem harsh, a contingent fee arrangement is perfect for personal injury law because often, victims are already strapped because of copious medical bills and lost wages. This way, they don't have to worry about coming up with more money which they may not have to seek justice. A contingency fee arrangement is also a tremendous incentive for your lawyer to work hard on your case since they won't see any payment unless they win. 

    Your lawyer will do all the work and take on the risk of litigation costs which can also be substantial. Litigation costs can include filing fees, deposition costs, subpoena fees, and costs associated with hiring experts. If your case goes to trial, they may have to work many months or even years without seeing a dime for their efforts, so that's why they have to feel you have a strong case to accept it.

  • Why do lawyers offer services on a contingency fee basis? 

    In the area of personal injury law, payouts can often reach into the hundreds of thousands or even more, which makes it an attractive proposition. For example, a $200,000 award would give a lawyer a $66,000 payday. When you're looking at suing big businesses, corporations, or doctors for malpractice, these cases can come with punitive damages, which can be substantial. 

    Contingent fee basis arrangements also free up lawyers to do all the work they feel is necessary to win. In an hourly fee arrangement, the client may balk at paying for subpoenas and depositions that the lawyer feels will strengthen their case. That means the lawyer cannot pursue all the avenues they would otherwise take. When your lawyer has a hunch about something, they can go after it without having to consult your pocketbook since it's coming out of theirs.

    Often, people perceive that contingency fees are unfair because the cut of the settlement is substantial, and people with weak cases have a hard time finding a lawyer to represent them under this fee schedule. However, when you look at everything a lawyer has to risk using this arrangement, it should be viewed as a fair trade. Some people simply have no other options when trying to win compensation for their injuries.

  • What is a settlement?

    A settlement is a formal agreement intended to resolve a dispute between two parties before it's escalated to the courts. You can reach an agreement at any time during litigation, even up to the day a trial is scheduled to start. Your lawyer will typically follow this pattern when litigating:

    • Submitting a demand letter to the defendant's insurance company on your behalf
    • Your lawyer will then receive a response from the defendant's lawyer, sometimes containing a counteroffer
    • Both attorneys will begin negotiating
    • Likely, a settlement agreement will be reached through negotiations
    • When an agreement is reached, both parties sign a formal settlement document which releases the defendant from further liability
  • What is a trial?

    If a settlement cannot be reached, the next step is a trial where both parties will argue their case in front of a judge and jury. The jury will decide whether the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff's injuries. 

    Trials have six phases which are as follows:

    Jury selection - People are randomly selected from lists of registered voters and people with driver's licenses and are then vetted to see if they qualify to serve. Then, the judge and both parties' lawyers further question those that qualify during a process known as "voir dire." This process is used to eliminate potential jurors that may have some bias about the people or issues involved in the case. Furthermore, those who know anyone involved in the case or have any prior information about the case are dismissed from the jury pool. Lawyers on both sides can eliminate a specific number of potential jurors without giving any reason. 

    Presenting opening statements - When the trial commences, both parties can present opening statements that are not evidence but an overview of the facts that are to be presented. The defendant's attorney can choose to withhold their opening statement until later in the trial.

    Witness testimony and cross-examination - When the plaintiff's attorney calls witnesses, this is known as the direct examination. They question the witness about what they saw or know about the case. Then the defendant's attorney can cross-examine the witness. Both the plaintiff's attorney and the opposing attorney can object to the line of questioning and any evidence that is produced they deem improper during this process.

    Closing arguments - Both parties use closing arguments to reiterate why their side should win the case. It's the final opportunity to shore up any doubts the jury may have on any issues pertaining to the case. 

    Jury instruction - The judge will give the jury instructions on how to deliberate and the substance of the law on which to base their decisions. Attorneys can present proposed instructions for the jury to favor their client. Still, the judge has the final rule on what the jury instruction will contain. 

    Jury deliberation and Verdict - In civil cases, the jury's decision does not have to be unanimous as in a criminal trial. If the verdict is unanimous, the jury foreperson will sign the verdict. If it's not unanimous, the judge will ask the jurors that do agree to the verdict to sign their names to the verdict. 

  • What can a lawyer do for me that I can't do for myself?

    Foremost, the advantage of hiring a lawyer is that they can give you the information and assistance to successfully pursue a civil case for personal injury. The knowledge of personal injury law is complicated, and we will serve you as a trusted ally throughout the entire process. We look out for your best interests during an already difficult time allowing you to make insightful decisions about your case.

    The filing of the necessary paperwork in any type of personal injury claim is deadline sensitive. If you miss a deadline, courts and insurance companies are not forgiving. We also document your injuries and compile evidence to prove the other party's negligence. Proving negligence that is up to the standards of a civil case is not as easy as it may seem, especially if you don't have experience with similar cases. We know the arguments and tactics that the other parties' representatives will use to make your claim look weak. 

    When our personal injury lawyers represent you in negotiations, you come from the point of strength. It's very common for insurance companies to use stall tactics, offer too little compensation, and use invalid arguments to deny your claim. We can prevent this from happening to you. 

    Of course, you have the ability to go to court on your own. Still, when a Morgan & Morgan attorney represents you, you have the backing of one of the largest and most successful law firms in the United States. We have over 800 trial-ready attorneys in our employ and the resources you would expect from a highly successful law firm. When insurance companies try to pull one over on our clients and bluff about going to trial, that's where we really shine. Most of our jury verdicts are more than 20 times what was offered during pretrial negotiations

  • Lawyer's cut of settlement: your questions answered

    At first glance, it's easy to see why people would wonder why a personal injury lawyer should get a notable cut of your compensation. But we hope we can win you over to the advantages of hiring legal help after seeing everything our lawyers can do for you and the heavily involved process of seeking compensation. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our lawyers are on standby 24/7. 

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Last updated on May 11, 2023

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