Hiring a personal injury lawyer could take a significant investment on your part. If you are paying a flat fee by the hour, you will likely have to at least offer a retainer to secure the attorney’s services. With the amount you might pay an attorney to handle your case, it could be a great disappointment and financial loss if you lose. By law, however, an attorney has the right to enforce nonrefundable fees – as long as the client expressly gives his or her consent before entering into the professional relationship.
State Bar of Arizona Approves Nonrefundable Fees
According to Ethical Rule 1.5 under the State Bar of Arizona, it is ethically acceptable for a lawyer to impose nonrefundable fees, as long as those fees are reasonable. A fee is reasonable if it is appropriate according to the skill, time, and labor the case requires, as well as to the results obtained. Before a lawyer can charge a nonrefundable fee, however, he or she must notify the client in writing. The lawyer must fully inform the client of the fee agreement and its nonrefundable nature, and the client must expressly agree to the arrangement (preferably in writing) before the lawyer can ethically continue.
If you knowingly and expressly agree to hire a lawyer using a nonrefundable fee arrangement, your lawyer will generally not be refundable, even if you lose the case. Nonrefundable fees are ethical because the attorney has already put in hours of work, resources, and energy into the case. Win or lose, lawyers using these arrangements will not work for free. The fees may only be refundable if you can prove that they were unreasonable according to the circumstances of the case. You may need to file a claim against your attorney for professional malpractice to receive a refund of unreasonable fees.
Risk-Free Lawyers Work on Contingency
Paying for a personal injury attorney in Arizona might not feel like an option as the victim of a significant injury. After all, you are already dealing with medical expenses and property damage repairs. Most attorneys, however, understand the financial duress people suffer as victims of serious accidents. That is why they offer their services on a contingency fee basis. Personal injury lawyers that work on contingency do not charge a penny for their services until and unless they recover financial awards for their clients.
Hiring a lawyer on a contingency fee arrangement protects you from financial risk during the claims process. You will not pay anything upfront for your services. Your attorney will front 100% of the costs of the investigation, filing fees, and other claim-related expenses. You will only have to pay if and when your attorney wins your case. Even then, you will not have to spend anything out of pocket for your legal representation. Your lawyer will take his or her fees directly out of your compensation award.
The typical contingency fee arrangement is that the lawyer will take about one third, or 33%, of the settlement or jury verdict won. This percentage can vary according to the level of work a case requires. Taking a case to trial, for example, could result in higher fees for the additional labor on the attorney’s part. You will agree to the fee before you retain the attorney. Finding a lawyer that will take your case on contingency can protect you from ever needing to request a refund since you will not pay anything unless your lawyer wins the case.