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How Much Do Dog Bite Lawyers Cost?

If you were bitten by someone else's dog, you've probably thought about hiring a lawyer to help get compensation for your injury. However, if you haven't before hired an attorney, you may be wondering how much dog bite lawyers cost.

Personal injury lawyers-including those who represent dog bite victims-usually charge for their work in one of two ways: contingency fees or hourly billing rates (also known as hourly fees).

When you hire a lawyer on contingency, you pay the lawyer nothing unless he or she obtains money on your behalf. When you hire a lawyer for an hourly fee, you pay for the actual hours the lawyer works on your case, regardless of the outcome of your case.

Contingency Fees & Dog Bite Lawyers

Contingency fees are, by far, the most common way to pay a dog bite lawyer. With a contingency fee, you agree to pay the lawyer a percentage of any money they obtain on your behalf, plus expenses. Most lawyers in your area will probably quote you the same percentage contingency fee, although you can try to negotiate a lower rate before hiring a lawyer. You should also negotiate to calculate the attorney's fee based on the net award (amount of money after your lawyer's expenses have been deducted) rather than the gross award (amount of money before expenses are deducted).

Contingency fees offer a few advantages to dog bite victims:

  • You pay the lawyer no money upfront
  • You pay no legal fees if the dog bite lawyer is unable to negotiate a settlement or win a judgment for you at trial
  • Because your lawyer will also benefit from a large award, he or she is motivated to work hard on your behalf

The most significant disadvantage to contingency fees: If your dog bite attorney is able to quickly secure a large settlement on your behalf, you may feel as if he or she did not completely earn the fee.

Hourly Rates & Dog Bite Lawyers

With an hourly billing rate, the lawyer will charge you for each and every hour he or she spends working on your case. You'll also be billed for any expenses incurred on your behalf. You'll be responsible for paying this bill regardless of whether you win or lose your case.

Most personal injury lawyers, including dog bite lawyers, prefer to charge their clients a contingency fee because it has the potential to produce a large paycheck. Hourly billing is much less common in personal injury law. If you are unable to find a dog bite attorney who will take your case on contingency, this may be a sign that lawyers think your case is weak or unlikely to produce a large award.

The disadvantage of hourly billing rates is that they require you to spend money when you're already paying for your injury-related expenses. Also, if you lose the case the money spent on legal fees could have been better spent on your medical bills. Carefully consider your options before deciding to hire a personal injury lawyer for an hourly fee.

How Much Will It Cost?

The exact cost of your case will depend on several factors, including:

  • Whether you hire a lawyer on contingency or for an hourly fee
  • Whether your case settles or goes to trial
  • How large of a monetary award you win
  • How much your attorney incurs in legal expenses

Before agreeing to hire an attorney, ask them to walk you through the math so you understand exactly how much you're likely to pay in legal fees. You want to know:

  • What size award are you likely to win if your case settles? If it goes to trial?
  • How much are the estimated legal expenses if your case settles? If it goes to trial?
  • How much will you pay in legal fees if your case settles? If it goes to trial?
  • How much money will remain after expenses and legal fees if your case settles? If it goes to trial?