Prior to retaining a lawyer in a personal injury case, you would be wise to ask about how you will be expected to pay the lawyer. Usually, personal injury lawyers will charge on a contingency fee basis; meaning the lawyer will charge a percentage of the amounts recovered in your case. Typical fees in BC are in the range of 25 % – 33%. Higher rates may be charged in some non-ICBC cases.
Contingency fee agreements are negotiated at the outset of the relationship between the lawyer and client. All contingency fee agreements must be in writing and signed by the client and the lawyer. A client will be able to be confident that once an agreement is signed, the charges for the legal work will never increase beyond what is set out in the fee agreement and the taxes on legal fees that is required to be remitted to the government.
Some firms charge fees of 33% in every case arising from an auto accident. But do not assume that all lawyers do. We think that rate is not appropriate to every situation. In some cases, that rate is too high for the amount of legal work required and the complexity of the work.
In our firm, we consider the complexity of the case, the amount of legal work likely required, the severity of the injury, and the riskiness of the liability situation before we determine the fee to be charged. Cases involving professional negligence, like medical malpractice, social worker liability or correctional officer liability may attract a higher fee.
In addition to the fees and taxes, lawyers will usually charge their own necessary expenses to the client. If the client is successful in the claim, typically the expenses are reimbursed by the losing side in addition to the funds paid for settlement or judgement to compensate an injured person for their injuries.
Contingency fees make it possible for people who have been injured in an accident to obtain compensation for their injuries, when they could not otherwise afford to retain a lawyer.