Legal Guide

How much After Legal Fees does an Oregon Personal Injury Attorney Charge?

It’s understandable if you’re nervous about reaching out to a personal injury attorney and retaining the attorney after being in an accident has already caused you stress and pain. You may be wondering things like, “Do I really need legal representation if I wasn’t injured?”; ”My insurance company will take care of everything for me, right?”; and “Aren’t personal injury attorneys expensive?” 

Whether you were injured or not as a result of being in an accident, you should still hire a personal injury attorney for the various benefits that they can provide. An experienced attorney knows the intricacies of the legal system and can give you sound advice on how to proceed. 

Personal injury attorneys typically take on cases on a contingency fee basis. A personal injury attorney will only get paid if they are successful in getting you compensation for your injuries. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you get a better settlement offer than you would be able to achieve on your own, and their fees will never prohibit you from paying for medical bills or other accident-related expenses.

In the absence of a statutory entitlement to recover attorneys’ fees for personal injury cases other than small tort claims wherein the amount pleaded is less than ten thousand dollars (see ORS 20.080), plaintiffs in personal injury cases typically have two options: either pay attorney fees directly for representation or agree to a contingency fee arrangement under which the attorney receives a percentage of any money recovered. 

Attorneys typically use one of three distinct fee models: (i) fixed fee, (ii) hourly charge, and (iii) contingency fee. In Oregon, as per Oregon Revised Statutes, ORS 20.340, the attorney is required to detail their fee structure in writing. In Oregon, an attorney’s obligations under a contingency fee arrangement are governed by law. The agreement should be straightforward and easy to understand; you should read it well and ask your attorney if you have any problems. You should also know that, as per ORS 20.340,  if you signed a contingency fee agreement for personal injury cases, you have the ability to withdraw your consent and cancel the contingency fee agreement within twenty-four hours. Remember to inform the attorney in writing if you decide to cancel the contingency fee agreement. In some scenarios, though, the attorney may still bill you for whatever time they spent on your case even if you decide to withdraw the contingency fee agreement.   

In personal injury cases, a contingency fee based model is generally used by personal injury attorneys. A contingency fee agreement means that the attorney does not get paid unless the client does. Attorney fees are often paid as a percentage of any settlement awarded to the client. In a contingency fee based model, the attorney puts up their own time and, often, money in the expectation of being reimbursed by the losing party if they win. Your personal injury attorney will be out the money and time they spent on your case if you don’t win. Thousands of dollars in costs may be lost, not just by you but also by the attorney or the law firm that paid them. The standard contingency fee for legal representation in personal injury claims is thirty-three percent of any compensation awarded. The chance of losing a lawsuit, and hence the percentage charged by attorneys, tends to rise as a case progresses.

There is evidence from several academic research studies which suggest that having a personal injury attorney present throughout a settlement negotiation can improve your chances of getting a higher settlement. 

As per the findings of a research by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) titled “Paying for Car Injuries: A Consumer Panel Survey of Auto Accident Victims“, the insurance payment for accident victims who retained a personal injury attorney was increased by forty percent compared to those who did not. 

The influence of legal representation on insurance settlement payouts was the subject of a second IRC report titled “Auto Injuries: Claims Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs“ According to the IRC, eighty-five percent of all bodily injury insurance payouts go to clients who are represented by personal injury attorneys. 

Further, in the IRC’s study titled “Auto Injury Insurance Claims: Countrywide Patterns in Treatment, Cost and Compensation“, twelve different private auto insurance companies provided data on more than thirty-five thousand claims for injuries. The study stated that the involvement of a personal injury attorney has an effect on the amount paid by insurance companies for claimants’ medical bills.

The All-Industry Research Advisory Council (AIRAC) published a report titled “Attorney Involvement in Auto Injury Claims“, which indicated that accident victims who hired an attorney were compensated at a rate of $1.59 for every dollar of economic loss, as opposed to the unrepresented claimants’ rate of $1.26. 

From the fee models and the manner in which personal injury attorneys charge fee discussed above, and also from the findings of the research studies and reports mentioned above, it must now be clear to you that hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you after an accident is a wise financial decision.

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