There is no definitive, one-size-fits-all answer to how much a Minnesota personal injury lawyer costs. Since personal injury lawyers almost always base their fees on the contingency fee system, you might not know the exact amount you are paying until the opposing party signs a settlement agreement or the jury announces a verdict.
Nevertheless, it is possible to identify the various components of the cost of a personal injury lawyer.
How the Contingency Fee System Works
Under a contingency fee arrangement, your legal fees equal a certain percentage of whatever amount your lawyer ‘wins’ for you. Your lawyer might win the money in court, or they might win it through private settlement negotiations. Over 90% of all claims end in settlement, however.
You must agree in advance to the exact percentage of your contingency fee. Typically, the amount ranges from 25% to 40%, with an average of about 33%.
What Is a “Reasonable” Contingency Fee?
Minnesota law places no absolute numerical limit on contingency fees outside of workers’ compensation cases (see below). It does, however, require contingency fees to be ‘reasonable’ based on the following criteria:
- The amount of work required;
- The amount of time and expense required;
- The amount of skill required;
- The extent to which taking the case will prevent the lawyer from taking other cases;
- The customary fee in the area for equivalent legal services;
- The amount of the claim;
- Time limitations imposed by the client or by circumstance;
- The length of the lawyer’s relationship with the client;
- The nature of the lawyer’s relationship with the client.
A lawyer is subject not only to substantive law but also to the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.
Personal injury claims often rack up quite a bit of out-of-pocket expenses, examples of which include:
- Expert witness fees (an accident reconstruction expert in a car accident case, for example);
- Court fees, if you file a lawsuit at any point;
- Copying and postal expenses;
- Investigation expenses; and
- Travel expenses incident to an investigation.
Most personal injury lawyers will pay case expenses up front and charge you for them if and only if they obtain compensation for you.
The amount you pay for a lawyer on a contingency fee is proportionate to the amount of damages you receive. The more you receive, the more you must pay your lawyer.
On the bright side, the more you receive, the more you get to keep after paying your lawyer. Minnesota recognizes three different types of compensation: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages include medical expenses, lost earnings, and out-of-pocket expenses. If you suffer long-term or permanent injuries, future medical expenses and future lost earnings can be immense. The younger you are at the time of your accident, the greater your future medical expenses and lost earnings might be.
Non-economic damages are intangible and mostly psychological. They might include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. Typically, non-economic damages add up to much more than economic damages.
Courts are reluctant to award punitive damages, and they usually refuse to, even if the victim wins economic and non-economic damages. To qualify for punitive damages, you must show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant’s actions exhibited a deliberate disregard for the lives or safety of others.
Wrongful Death Damages
If the victim dies from the accident, a wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate. Wrongful death damages differ from personal injury damages, but they are typically large. These damages go to surviving relatives and the victim’s probate estate.
A Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer Can Increase the Value of Your Claim
No ethical lawyer will guarantee you specific results. Nevertheless, statistically, claimants who hire lawyers usually end up with a lot more compensation than claimants who don’t – even after deducting legal fees. Unless your claim is trivial, contact a lawyer as soon as you can.
Contact the Minnesota Personal Injury Law Firm of Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys For Help Today
For more information, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Edina.