Interviewer: Is it typical that auto accident attorneys will get a third for the gross settlement? Is there a specific number?
Roy Comer: In California, subject to certain statutory exceptions, the attorney’s fees in personal injury claims are negotiable between the attorney and the client. Customarily, it’s a third of the gross recovery. In certain cases, I will take a third of the settlement after the costs have been deducted. For me, it depends on the case, and it depends on the client. I discuss this fully with the client and we reach a mutual agreement in writing so there is no confusion.
The Investment Made by a Lawyer Prior to Achieving a Settlement for a Personal Injury Claim
Interviewer: On average, how much do you invest in a case to get it to the settlement point?
Roy Comer: I cover this with my clients before we enter into a settlement agreement. If the case can be settled without an investment of a lot of money in costs, the client’s net recovery will be greater. If I can settle the case before it gets into litigation, there will be some miscellaneous costs such as obtaining the medical records from the healthcare providers. These costs depend on how much medical treatment they have and can range from a couple of hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars to get all of those records.
The Costs Incurred by the Attorney Depend upon the Case and the Facts Specific to the Case
If there is a claim for loss of income, this must be verified from the employer. Copies of the traffic collision report and photographs may be a small sum, but some police agencies charge quite a bit for these records. Medical reports prepared by the doctors, as opposed to the doctor’s records, may cost hundreds of dollars, too.
An Attorney May Spend an Amount Ranging from $200 to Several Thousands of Dollars
Interviewer: Is there a“ballpark” range for these costs in pursuing personal injury claims?
Roy Comer: Costs of substantiating a personal injury claim can range from from a couple of hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. It really depends on the kind of case. Going to trial is expensive, and could easily be more than $10,000 because a doctor must testify. Depositions of witnesses and experts are costs associated with preparing for trial. Sometimes the depositions are videotaped and sometimes the witness needs an interpreter. An experienced attorney should provide the client with an estimate of the litigation costs that must be taken into consideration as the professional evaluation of the value of a claim.