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How Much Does a West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

Understanding Contingency Fees

West Virginia personal injury lawyer drafting attorney contingency fee agreement

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident or hurt by negligence, you’re likely facing unexpected medical bills, lost wages, and all sorts of unexpected expenses. The last thing you need is another financial worry trying to figure out how much a West Virginia personal injury lawyer costs. You may also wonder if you would be better off handling your accident or personal injury claim by yourself.

This blog post is here to clear things up about how personal injury attorney fees work in West Virginia, and what impact that will likely have on the total compensation you receive. That way you can make informed decisions about your case, including whether to hire a West Virginia personal injury attorney.

How Contingency Fees Work in Personal Injury Cases – No Fee Unless You Win

The good news is that most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay a single cent upfront for their legal services. Instead, your lawyer will take a percentage of your settlement or court verdict – but only if they win your case.

Benefits of Contingency: This system has three big advantages:

  • Accessibility for Clients: People who have been injured and face financial hardship can still secure high-quality legal representation. This wouldn’t be possible for most clients under an hourly fee contract.
  • Reduced Risk for You: You don’t have to worry about paying legal fees out of pocket if your case isn’t successful.
  • Motivates Your Lawyer: Your attorney is financially invested in getting you the best possible outcome, as their payment depends on it.

As mentioned above, contingency fee agreements motivate lawyers. However, some personal injury attorneys often settle cases for less than full value. Why would they do that? So they can earn your fee quicker and with less work. 

Recovering maximum compensation usually requires more work than recovering mediocre results would. That’s why it’s important to choose a highly rated West Virginia personal injury attorney. 

For a Free Case Review, call our award-winning personal injury lawyers today at 1-877-943-9378 (WEST).

What percentage do most WV personal injury lawyers take?

West Virginia accident attorney shaking hands with a new client.

Standard Fee Percentages: The average contingency fee percentage for West Virginia personal injury attorneys ranges from 33% to 40%. The lower end of the range usually applies to cases that are settled out of court and the higher end usually applies to cases that involve a lawsuit and litigation. 

So, if your lawyer settles your truck accident, slip and fall, work injury, or other personal injury case for $100,000, your lawyer’s fee will likely be between $33,000 and $40,000. 

When You Do and Don’t Pay

  • No upfront fees or costs: You don’t pay anything upfront with contingency fee agreements.
  • If you win: The lawyer gets their percentage and you receive the rest, with costs potentially being deducted as well.
  • If you lose: You shouldn’t owe your lawyer any fees. However, beware of attorney agreements that stick you with cost reimbursements, even if they lose your case.

When You Might Pay a Higher (or Lower) Personal Injury Attorney’s Fee

  • Case Complexity: More complicated cases (e.g., nursing home neglect, product liability claims, medical malpractice cases) may lead to a higher percentage due to the additional work needed.
  • Litigation or Going to Trial: Cases settled out of court usually involve a lower percentage than those requiring extensive litigation or a full trial.
  • Attorney Experience: Highly experienced lawyers may charge a slightly higher percentage. Although the attorneys at West Law Firm are highly experienced, we never charge more than the standard 33%-40% fee.
  • Cases involving minors: Personal injury claims involving children, like dog bites, for example, may lead to a lower contingency fee percentage.
  • Limited Insurance and High Medical Bills: When a defendant has limited insurance to pay the claim and the client has high medical bills and liens that need to be paid back, West Law Firm often reduces their fee to help the client. 
  • Appeals: Cases that go to trial and are appealed by your lawyer or the other side’s lawyer involve even more work and time. Some personal injury lawyers charge a higher percentage if this happens.
  • Fee Caps – Claims governed by statutes that limit fees: For example accident and injury claims against government entities governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
    • Administrative Settlement: If your FTCA claim is settled without going to court, the attorney’s fee is capped at 20% of the settlement amount.
    • Lawsuit and Judgment/Compromise: If your FTCA case goes to court, the cap increases to 25% of the judgment or a negotiated compromise settlement.

Do You Get More Money with a Lawyer After an Accident? Studies Say Yes

Scales of justice showing an abundance of gold coins

Studies consistently indicate that accident victims tend to receive significantly higher compensation when they hire a lawyer:

Reasons for Higher Compensation with Experienced Injury Attorneys:

  • Leverage: Insurance companies are more likely to offer a fair settlement when they know your lawyer is prepared to go to court. Otherwise, you have little leverage to force them to pay you a fair settlement.
  • Legal Expertise: Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the complexities of personal injury laws, insurance company tactics, and know how to build strong cases.
  • Negotiation Skills: They are experienced negotiators, helping victims avoid lowball offers from insurance companies.
  • Evidence Gathering: Attorneys know how to obtain and use crucial evidence (medical records, police reports, etc.) to support your claim.
  • Savings on Medical Bills and Insurance Liens: At West Law Firm, we work hard to negotiate outstanding liens, and this can save clients thousands of dollars. For example, if your health insurer pays $30,000 for your medical bills, under West Virginia law, they have a right to be paid back out of your settlement. If you chose West Law Firm to represent you, we may be able to decrease that lien by $10,000 or more.

The Difference Between Attorney Fees and Case Costs

While a personal injury lawyer works on your behalf, there are two distinct financial aspects to consider: attorney fees and case costs.  Here’s a breakdown to help you understand the difference:

Attorney Fees:

  • This is the compensation your lawyer receives for their legal services.
  • In most personal injury cases, lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay anything upfront, and the lawyer only gets paid if they win your case.
  • Their fee is a percentage of the settlement or court award you receive.
  • Standard contingency fees in West Virginia typically range from 33% to 40%.

Case Costs:

  • These are separate expenses incurred while building your case.
  • Lawyers often advance these costs on your behalf, meaning they pay for them upfront.
  • These costs might include:
    • Court filing fees
    • Medical record retrieval charges
    • Expert witness fees (e.g., medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists)
    • Deposition costs (recording sworn statements from relevant parties)
    • Copying and printing fees
    • Legal research costs
    • Trial exhibits (visual aids used in court)

Important Points:

  • Reimbursement of Costs: If your case is successful, the lawyer typically deducts the advanced costs from your final settlement or award. You would have likely incurred these costs regardless if you hired a lawyer or not.
  • Unsuccessful Cases: In most cases, you won’t be responsible for reimbursing advanced costs if your case isn’t successful. However, there could be exceptions, so a clear written agreement with your lawyer is crucial.

Key Takeaway:

Attorney fees are your lawyer’s compensation for their work, while case costs are miscellaneous expenses incurred during the legal process. Understanding this distinction helps you manage your financial expectations when pursuing a personal injury claim.

Beware of Hidden Costs

The West Law Firm Difference: Many if not most West Virginia personal injury lawyers charge for things like the cost of copying or printing documents for your case. this can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars or more. At West law firm, we believe that copying and printing documents for your case is part of an attorney’s typical duties and responsibilities. So, unlike many lawyers, we do not charge clients for this cost.

Another hidden cost personal injury law firms may try to stick you with is interest payments on loans they may need to take out to finance your case. Look closely at any contract an attorney proposes to you to see if there is a clause that give them the right to charge you for interest charges they may have incurred.

At West Law Firm, we believe it’s the lawyer’s duty to have enough financial resources to prosecute their client’s case. Therefore, the client should not be responsible for paying the lawyer’s interest charges just because the lawyer needs to take a loan out to finance their client’s case. 

Importance of Transparency

  • Clear Contract: A written contract outlining fee percentage and cost arrangements is critical to protecting your rights.
  • Ask Questions: The best time to ask questions about costs and personal injury attorney fees is during initial consultations. This is when you have the most bargaining power in negotiating your attorney fee agreement.

Free Consultation With a Top-Rated WV Accident Lawyer

Charleston WV accident lawyers Brooks West and David Dobson Shown with their Legal Awards

If you or a loved one was injured in a West Virginia accident, we encourage you to call one of our top-rated accident lawyers for a free and confidential consultation. Our toll-free number is 877-943-9378 (WEST). There is also No Fee unless and until you recover compensation.  

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