Potential clients often ask me what the “usual” percentage legal fee is for personal injury cases and lawsuits involving slip and falls or car accidents. There is no “set” legal fee or “usual” legal fee – it’s all subject to agreement.
My own personal practice is to charge a percentage fee based on four factors: (1) the time expended on your case, (2) the complexity of the matters in issue, (3) the degree of responsibility assumed by the lawyer, and (4) the monetary value of the matters in issue. The fee is based on the damages awarded in a judgement, or negotiated resolution/settlement.
I generally agree that, in the normal course, the legal fee will not be more than 1/5th, 20% of the damages awarded to you, and in more severe cases I will typically agree that the legal fee will not be more than 15% of the damages awarded (there are sometimes exceptions to these typical scenarios). HST would typically apply on the fee. The defence would typically make a contribution to fees and disbursements, in addition to a damages payment. I am happy to discuss all of this in relation to a specific case scenario.
There are a number of other considerations that I recommend that you look at closely when reviewing a retainer agreement. One is whether the law firm is going to charge you any percentage of ongoing accident benefits being received by you from the insurer (ie: income replacement or attendant care etc). I do not charge for those amounts. We will still assist with the forms and benefit applications as a client service. If there is a dispute/lawsuit, then we will assist you on a similar percentage based model.
My understanding is that this is typical of most of the plaintiff personal injury lawyers practising at large downtown Toronto firms, but I have no actual personal knowledge one way or the other, because I do not call other lawyers to ask for quotes.
The law firm that I work at, Lerners LLP, has been around since 1929, has over 100 lawyers, the capital to invest in cases and a long and solid reputation. Lerners LLP has been noted to be Canada’s largest group of personal injury lawyers. We offer in home and hospital consultations across the Province.
I have heard second hand stories about law firms charging more than that, but I cannot confirm that it is true or false and have no specific examples to offer.
The amount of the fee is usually agreed to at the beginning of the case, in the retainer agreement with your lawyer. In certain cases, the amount of the fee can be reviewed and over-turned later. If you are concerned about the fee that you are paying, it is better to look into this sooner than later. This is especially true if you want to switch lawyers, since the old lawyer will want to be paid for some portion of the time that they have spent and it is better to do this earlier.
Consultations are always free, you do not pay unless you win and we fund all up-front costs.
If you want to do your research and really consider whether a quoted legal fee is fair you are free to contact us at www.personalinjurylawlawyer.ca in the Toronto area at 416-710-3268 or in Oshawa/Whitby/Ajax/Durham at 905-409-2438. Feel free to call and ask “what legal fee is fair with my injury lawyer?”
We look forward to your call at 905-409-2438.
Steven Polak is a personal injury lawyer in Toronto and Whitby Ontario representing victims of injury and death in car accidents, slip and falls, other mishaps, as well as long term disability denials.