Updated on: 3/7/2019
It has never been easier to compare products and services side-by-side to find the best overall value for your money. It is in our nature as consumers to compare our options and hunt for the best possible deal.
When it comes to finding the right attorney for your personal injury case, you may feel inclined to follow the same strategy. But some lawyers give consumers a distorted view on what “value” really means in the field of personal injury law, and consumers often confuse the "cost" of hiring a personal injury lawyer with the actual "value" that attorney provides to the client.
Personal Injury Attorneys And Contingency Fees
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only make money if you make money. Typically attorneys charge around one-third of the recovery for their legal expertise and the labor that goes into successfully resolving a personal injury case. But from time to time, attorneys will offer a discounted rate in hopes of enticing a client to hire them over a competitor, and the client is forced to make a difficult decision.
Some might see those advertisements and think, “That’s a deal!” But we want to educate you on the various reasons that these offers should be taken as a warning sign and explain by how hiring a “discount attorney” your personal injury case can actually end up hurting you and your family.
Reason #1: Contingency Fee Structure Is An Incentive
The structure of a contingency fee agreement for personal injury cases is designed to work in the favor of both the attorney and the client at the same time. Since a contingency fee is contingent upon a successful resolution to the case, the client does not owe the attorney any fees unless the attorney recovers compensation for the client.
As we say: Win or Go Home
This ensures the client does not lose if the attorney fails. At the same time, the contingency fee structure also incentivizes the attorney to recover the highest possible level of compensation for the client because that encourages the attorney’s fee is a percentage of that number.
When an attorney charges a lower percentage they can make up the difference in profit by taking on more cases. Since this discount attorney is fighting for less money, insurance companies are more likely to settle. This means less work for the discount attorney.
Everyone wins. Except for the attorney's client.
Reason #2: It’s A Sign Of A ‘Settlement Mill’
A low cost might mean the firm is a “settlement mill.” We published a pretty detailed explanation of settlement mills not long ago, which you can read here. But, basically, these firms sign up a lot of clients and turn the cases over as quickly as possible, without much regard to obtaining the best possible settlement for the client or making decisions based on the client’s best interests.
Settlement mills are like heavy metal bands: They make profit from volume.
Settlement mills make a profit from doing a mediocre amount of work for a lot of hurt people. They don't do the best work, which might mean waiting out the insurance company or taking the case to trial. Settlement mills will typically do anything they can to avoid a trial at all costs because the attorney(s) do not have much, if any, experience in court. Advertising a discounted fee is one way to attract a high number of clients without their understanding of the reasoning behind that advertisement.
Reason #3: It’s A (Possible) Sign Of A Struggling Business
If the attorney's reason for offering a discount goes beyond the above suggestions, then there is a chance that the lower fee offer is really sort of an "EVERYTHING MUST GO!" promotion. Attorneys who are struggling for business and need to generate revenue immediately will sometimes begin to offer a discounted fee for their services. Obviously, this would be a situation for accident victims to avoid.
It would be unwise to make any assumptions about a law firm’s overall financial health just because of an advertisement, but “sales promotions” are quite the rarity for attorneys. But if you do happen to find yourself speaking with an attorney who is offering a discounted contingency fee, it may be in your best interest to ask them why they are doing so.
Contact Us For A Free Case Review
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and you want to learn more about your legal rights and options, our legal team is standing by to review the details of your case and explain if and how we may be able to help add value to your case. While our attorneys do not offer discount contingency fees, we do have a stellar track record of success in recovering compensation for injured victims and their loved ones for more than 20 years.
Call our downtown Seattle office at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to get started and have our attorneys review your case for free.