How are attorney's fees and
medical expenses paid?
The cost of attorney's fees and litigation expenses are beyond the budget of the usual accident victim or his or her family.
For this reason, many lawyers will take such cases on a contingency. This means that the client does not have to pay fees as the case goes. Instead, the lawyer will gamble along with the client that the case will be successful and there will be a financial award by means of settlement or jury verdict. The lawyer takes a percentage of the settlement or award as his fee. That way, if the case does not succeed, the injured client has no big legal bills hanging over his or her head.
The lawyer's out-of-pocket expenses are usually advanced by the attorney as needed. When the case is concluded these advanced expenses are reimbursed to the lawyer out of the settlement.
The attorney's fee is calculated as a percentage of the award or settlement after costs have been deducted; this way there is a larger net amount for the client after costs and fees have been deducted.
There is no fixed percentage for the attorney's fees if the client is an adult. However, the typical fee is 33.3% of any settlement, or 40% if the case goes to trial. Depending on the nature of the case these percentages may vary among lawyers. If the victim is a minor, California state law fixes the lawyer's fee at 25% of the recovery.
Providers of health services to the client, and their insurers, typically expect to be repaid to some extent out of the client's award or settlement. Their fees and expenses are typically protected by means of a medical lien filed with the lawyer. The lawyer is required by the rules of ethics to honor such liens if they are reasonable.