The National Floor Safety Institute estimates that 1 out of 3 adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall every year. Of these, approximately half will be unable to return to the same standard of living and independence following their accident. Slip-and-fall accidents are one of the most common causes of overall injuries nationwide. If you have suffered a slip-and-fall due to a property owner’s negligence in upkeeping their property, you may be eligible to file a slip-and-fall lawsuit to recover the cost of your physical and financial losses. Because of the complexities of slip-and-fall injury lawsuits, most accident victims choose to hire an injury attorney to represent their claim.
Of course, any attorney you hire to represent your slip-and-fall claim will need to be compensated for their work. This is one of the first considerations on many slip-and-fall accident victims’ minds when exploring their legal options. Many accident victims may hesitate to seek the quality representation they need for fear of exorbitant legal fees. However, if attorney compensation varies widely, how can victims of slip-and-fall accidents determine what to expect when hiring an attorney?
Do I Need a Slip-and-Fall Attorney?
At first glance, it may seem that forgoing representation is a smart way to save costs. After all, in many cases, the defendant or their insurer may offer you a settlement– why not take the settlement offer and forgo worrying over legal fees?
Unfortunately, the issue isn’t so simple. Any compensation offered to an unrepresented plaintiff is unlikely to cover the full costs of the victim’s economic and non-economic losses. With slip-and-fall accidents, the question of liability is difficult to prove. In order to receive compensation, it must be determined that hazardous conditions on the premises (for example, slippery, uneven, or obstructed surfaces) were to blame for the accident. Once that premise is determined, the owners of the property can be sued for damages (which will also need to be linked to the slip-and-fall accident).
In short, hiring experienced representation substantially increases the likelihood of receiving the compensation you deserve. If you are seeking compensation after a slip-and-fall accident, it is in your best interests to schedule a consultation with an injury attorney as soon as possible and explore the full extent of your legal options.
Slip-and-Fall Lawyer Costs: What to Expect
Because of the complex variables involved, it can be difficult to estimate the total cost of hiring legal representation. If attorney compensation varies widely, however, how can slip-and-fall accident victims know what to expect when hiring an injury attorney?
The following examples are the most common costs associated with hiring legal representation. While this list won’t be able to give you an exact figure, it will cover the average costs of each of these categories and help you prepare to hire the representation you deserve.
Many attorneys will charge their clients hourly rates. This rate will vary widely based on the attorney’s geographical location (for example, the hourly rates of an attorney located in a major city are likely to be much higher than one practicing in a small town. Additionally, hourly rates may vary based on the type of work (for example, the cost of negotiating a settlement versus conducting legal research and/or compiling evidence). Typically, an attorney’s hourly rates range between $200 and $400.
Some attorneys will choose to offer flat-rate fees rather than hourly rates. The advantage of this structure is that the client is quoted the full cost upfront. However, if there are unexpected costs down the line, attorneys may end up adding to this initial rate. Flat-rate fees are more common in simple projects such as drafting wills or prenup agreements. However, while it is less common, some attorneys may offer flat-rate fees for personal injury cases (like slip-and-fall injury claims).
Most injury attorneys offer no-cost, no-obligation initial consultations to review your case. However, you may be interested in meeting an attorney who requires clients to pay a consultation fee. Consultation fees typically range from $50 to $100 per hour.
Another fee that you may be presented with is an attorney’s retainer fee. Retainer fees are a “down payment” on your attorney’s total compensation. These fees are more common in cases where the compensation is likely to be quite large (for example, personal injury cases). Attorneys who live in highly populated areas and are in high demand are more likely to charge these fees. Retainer fees vary widely; clients can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,000.
Some attorneys work on contingent-fee contracts; in fact, the majority of personal injury cases are taken on a contingency basis. Under a contingent-fee contract, an attorney’s compensation is dependent upon the attorney’s ability to win their client a settlement. Their total compensation is then deducted from the overall settlement. Contingency fees generally range from 20-40% of the overall settlement, with the average contingency fee comprising 33%. Because personal injury cases are complex and require many hours of work, contingent-fee contracts are often a good choice for clients who cannot afford to pay high legal fees upfront.
Depending on your state or the court where your slip-and-fall injury claim is tried, you may be asked to pay statutory fees. Typically, statutory fees are less than $500.
Legal Aid Fees
Low-income individuals may qualify for low-cost legal assistance. Many firms offer sliding-scale assistance to help accident victims based on need. In some cases, legal aid can cost clients less than $100 an hour.
Resources for Slip-and-Fall Victims
Victims of slip-and-falls may face various physical and financial burdens in the aftermath of their accidents. However, with the right resources, the worst of these strains can be reduced or eliminated altogether. The following resources provide both information and assistance to slip-and-fall accident victims and their families.
Expertise.com Legal Directory
If you are looking for a qualified slip-and-fall attorney to represent your claim, you will need to explore options in your area. The database of experienced personal injury attorneys at Expertise.com is free to use and can be accessed by anyone. By selecting your nearest metro in the dropdown menu, you can easily access a list of reputable personal injury attorneys near you.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resources
Millions of Americans are injured by slips and falls every year. To help educate the public on these preventable accidents, the CDC has compiled a page of slip-and-fall injury resources. These resources include strategies for avoiding accidents, as well as statistics on slip-and-fall injuries, and information on medical treatment. The CDC also developed the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) initiative to focus on preventing slip-and-fall accidents among the elderly.
Hospital Charity Care
For many victims, the hardest burden of a slip-and-fall accident is the accompanying financial bills. Aside from the costs of doctor’s visits and medical treatments, slip-and-fall injuries may also necessitate a short or long-term leave from work, resulting in a potential decrease in income. While your slip-and-fall attorney will do all they can to recover these losses in your injury lawsuit, many hospitals do offer financial assistance to low-income individuals that may help ease your financial burden in the short term. The Affordable Care Act requires all hospitals designated 501(c)(3) to offer some form of “charity care” to eligible patients. Contact your hospital to determine if you are eligible to receive this form of financial assistance with your medical bills.
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