A personal injury lawyer will usually ask a client to sign a “retainer agreement” confirming the relationship between the lawyer and client. The retainer agreement will spell out the percentage fee and the other costs (if any). This does not always happen in personal injury lawyer retainers in Whitby and Oshawa in my experience, but I always have the client sign a retainer so that the terms are clear to them.
Many clients believe that there is a standard rate or standard retainer agreement among personal injury lawyers for car accident cases or slip and falls or other accidents. That would not be correct.
There are certainly some differences that I have seen over the years. One of the differences is the actual percentage of course. I always encourage clients to call a few other lawyers and ask what they charge, because I believe that my personal injury lawyer fees are fair and reasonable and I want them to see that for themselves. I cannot say what my percentage is here, but you are welcome to call me at 905-409-2438 and ask me.
Another difference is the question of “disbursements” – those are expenses that are payable throughout the case (ie: court filing fee, medical record and report fees etc.). Does your agreement with your lawyer say that you will be responsible for those costs at the end if the other side does not pay them? It is a good thing to check. If the defence does not contribute enough to the fees and disbursements, does that affect the amount you pay in some other way?
I try to give my clients a very easy to understand explanation of these issues so that there are absolutely no surprises at the end. My goal is to have clients who are pleased with the results, know that they have been treated fairly and will say good things – Durham is not such a big place and I am always proud of receiving referrals from past clients. Approximately 40% of my case-load is now in Durham and is being managed out of my personal injury lawyer office in Whitby Ontario.
Another thing that you will want to look for is whether you are being charged a percentage of the benefits that you are receiving from the accident benefits carrier. Do you have to pay the lawyer a part of those benefits? You want to be clear about that when reviewing the retainer.
Those are some of the issues that you want to consider. I typically ask my clients if they want to take the retainer home and look at it before signing – it’s an important document, so don’t feel pressured to agree to personal injury lawyer fees unless you are clear on the terms.