Here in Arizona, we’re constantly bombarded with TV commercials from Phoenix car accident and injury lawyers. Some offer “discount” fees while others are just plain cheesy. They grab your attention, but the question remains whether they really provide the best service to ensure the highest possible settlement or jury verdict for their clients.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not take any fees unless we receive compensation for our clients. Many states have laws that limit the percentage that a lawyer can take as a percentage fee, Arizona is not one of them. In the Phoenix area, most contingency fees are between 33 and 40%.
Some of the large personal injury mills in the Phoenix area that advertise on television will charge 40%, even for a simple car accident case. They are simply passing on their TV advertising costs to the client. Others charge a shifting percentage that increases based on whether the case goes to trial. Then there are the injury lawyers that charge a “discount” fee (which can be around 1%). It may be the case that a discount fee results in a “discount” settlement. This is due to the fact that these mill injury practices are based on a business model of high advertising and high volume. They simply aren’t set up to thoroughly work up most cases to go all the way through a jury trial to verdict; and insurance companies know this, resulting in low settlement offers. Many of the injury lawyers on television bank on sending out a demand letter for quick settlements with a large number of cases. This practice can leave settlement dollars on the table when they should be in the client’s pocket.
Is the fee negotiable?
As a Phoenix personal injury lawyer, my office is open to negotiating a lower contingency fee percentage based on the facts of the case. If liability and damages are clear, the at-fault party is well insured, and there’s plenty of sufficient evidence to back up the claim, my office will certainly negotiate a lower contingency percentage. Another factor we consider is whether the injured party has sufficient uninsured/underinsured automobile insurance coverage. This coverage can be a life saver to our clients when the at-fault party who caused the injury has minimal insurance coverage.
Of course always carefully review the retainer agreement or contract for legal services. If you don’t understand the fee arrangement, ask the attorney to explain it to you before you sign.