Tucson, AZ asked in Personal Injury for Arizona

Q: How much do your lawyers take after winning

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2 Lawyer Answers
Freddy Saavedra
Freddy Saavedra
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: Thank you for asking this question. I think it is a great opportunity to explain fees and how they work. The answer is and must be "it depends."

Generally speaking a personal injury attorney charges 33 and 1/3%. This means the attorney would take as payment a third of the total recovery. That leaves a third for the client and a third to pay all the medical providers. At my firm we try to put at least a third in the client's pocket.

But there are also costs involved. This is an amount the attorney pays out of their own pocket to advance the case. I will oftentimes hire a private investigator to look into a matter. I will pay them directly, but I recoup these costs on top of my fees. These expenses can include a police report, medical records, the cost of filing a suite, etc.. So the attorney will get back a third plus costs.

In Arizona a medical provider should reduce their medical bills by the attorney fees and costs. The attorney fees and costs are what it cost to repay the medical providers and it is not uncommon to ask a medical provider to reduce by a third or more. Now medical providers disagree with my reading of the law and some will fight back when we request they reduce their bills, but this is an important aspect of a personal injury case that most people don't even think about. Let me attempt to illustrate.

Lets take some facts to setup a few hypotheticals. The facts are as follows: A rear ends (client)B. A has $25,000.00 in liability limits and is judgment proof. B incurs $25,000.00 in medical bills. B does not have UM/UIM. The attorney fee is a third and there are no costs. As you will see it could be the medical bills and how they are managed make the biggest difference in how much the client gets in their pocket.

Hypothetical 1- In this hypothetical the client(B) has private health insurance that prohibits balance billing and they do not demand repayment. The attorney would get $8,325.00 and the client(B) would get $16,675.00.

Hypothetical 2- In this example the client's medical providers all treated on a lien basis, meaning they will not get paid until the matter is concluded. In this example the attorney would ask the medical providers for a significant reduction and ask that they accept a third of the settlement as full and final payment for their bills. In this example the attorney would get $8,325.00, the providers would get $8,325.00 and the client would get $8,350.00.

Hypothetical 3- The client's medical bills were paid by an ERISA Plan that allows for balance billing. The ERISA plan is aggressive and allows for no reductions for attorney fees and costs. The ERISA Plan paid $15,000.00 to the medical providers. The medical providers are also requesting a balance bill of $10,000.00. An ERISA plan is a health insurance plan created under federal law. In this example the attorney must fight the ERISA plan and the medical providers to lower their demands to put at least a third in the clients pockets. There are several logistical items an attorney would have to do, these include obtaining and reviewing documents from the ERISA plan as well as the contract between the plan and the medical providers. This could take a very long time and once the documents are reviewed, if the ERISA plan and the medical providers seek full repayment it would be up to the attorney to take on that fight. In this example the attorney would have to work very hard to put any money in the clients pocket so it may take an interpleader (mini lawsuit) to try to put any money in the clients pockets. In this example there is no telling who will get what until it has been negotiated between all parties.

My point is that what an attorney gets is not a simple question to answer for reasons that are outside of the control of the attorney.

1 user found this answer helpful

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Little Neck, NY

A: Your question suggests that you may be under the impression you're dealing with a law firm here. This is not a law firm. It's a public forum where attorneys answer legal questions. Although the rough ballpark attorney fee in the personal injury field is one-third, some firms distinguish cases that are placed into suit. If you have a case for which you're seeking an attorney, pose this question individually to each law firm you approach. Good luck

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