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How Much Does a St. Louis Injury Attorney Cost?

If you have been injured and it’s someone else’s fault, you may be thinking about hiring a St. Louis injury attorney to get you the financial award or settlement you deserve. But if you are already worried about money and you aren’t sure how much a lawyer costs, you may be nervous about meeting with someone to discuss your case. This article will help you understand how injury lawyers bill for their time.

How a St. Louis Injury Attorney Bills

Lawyers have several ways of billing, and you will need to understand how those work before you can really judge which lawyer charges the most reasonable fees for your case. There are advantages and disadvantages to the different types of billing methods, so listen carefully to what the St. Louis injury lawyers tell you and don’t be nervous about asking a lot of questions.

Depending on your situation, an attorney may take your case on a contingency fee basis. With this type of billing arrangement, a St. Louis injury attorney will not accept any money during the case. Instead, he will take a percentage of any award or settlement you get, plus expenses.

Not having to pay any legal fees unless you win can be extremely helpful if you have large medical bills or have had to take a lot of time off work because of your injuries. This type of billing also invests the attorney in the outcome of the case. After all, he only gets paid if you get a settlement or award. Most St. Louis injury attorneys charge a contingency fee, and if a lawyer is willing to accept your case on contingency fee, it probably means your case is strong.

Most personal injury attorneys in the St. Louis area, whether they have offices in Kirkwood, downtown or University City, will charge about the same, although some may charge a higher percentage if they have had a great deal of success winning civil cases in St. Louis.

Some attorneys bill by the hour. With an hourly rate, St. Louis auto accident attorneys and other types of personal injury lawyers will charge for the amount of time they actually work on your case. Hourly rates can vary quite a bit, depending on a number of things. Where an attorney graduated from law school makes a difference and so does location of his office.

Reputation matters, too. An attorney who is well known for helping his clients win generous settlements and awards in personal injury lawsuits will charge more than one who mostly practices in other areas of the law.

A St. Louis injury attorney who bills by the hour will usually bill in six or 15 minute increments. So an attorney who bills in 15 minute increments will charge you for a full 15 minutes, even when he spends five minutes answering an email from you. This can add up.

You will also pay the lawyer’s expenses, such as when he has to travel to talk to a witness. You may have to pay a retainer, or up front deposit, when you hire an hourly rate attorney. And you will be expected to pay your legal bills regularly, usually once a month.

You may come across an attorney who charges you a flat fee for your personal injury case. This fee often must be paid up front. If an attorney suggests a flat fee for your personal injury lawsuit, it may be that he thinks your case isn’t very strong—be sure to ask about that.

Hourly fees and flat fees are considerably less common in personal injury cases. That's because you'll have to pay the legal fees regardless of whether you win or lose the case. If you're unable to find a lawyer who will accept your case on contingency, it may be a sign your case is weak or worth little money. Ask the lawyer why he won't work on contingency, and make sure you understand the math--how much you could reasonably expect to receive in a settlement or judgment, how much you'll owe in legal fees and expenses, and how much money would be left over--before hiring a personal injury attorney for an hourly fee or on contingency.

Questions to Ask Attorneys about Billing Rates

Your initial consultation with an attorney is your chance to ask about fees. You will need to ask many specific questions in order to be able to compare one attorney’s fees to another’s.

When meeting with attorneys, ask them exactly what type of fee they charge, how much that fee is and what may be extra. If they charge by the hour, ask how much they think the total cost of your case could end up being. If they charge a contingency fee, ask to see some examples and awards from injury cases that are similar to yours.

Once you know how much an attorney charges, you will have a better idea of whether this is the right attorney to hire.