It is in the newspaper headlines all around the world. Verdicts and huge settlements are given every day. It appears that all the plaintiffs you read about are getting rich. However, in a personal injury case that is very rarely true. Below is an example of a hypothetical settlement in the amount of $100,000.00. The distribution of an actual case is decided by the legal agreement that is made between the client and their lawyer. The following is to provide a clearer understanding on the process of distribution on actual settlements.
- Legal Fees –The legal fee will be the first amount to be taken out of the $100,000.00. While the fee can vary, you can expect it to be about 40 to 45% of the settlement amount. This amount is the way a majority of personal injury attorneys pay for their legal expertise, pay money upfront for other cases, and pay members of their staff. There are also many cases where this fee amount will need to be split between several firms, such as in the case where there is a referring attorney involved. Assuming the legal fees will be split in half for two different law firms and a contract for a 40% contingent fee, $20,000 will go to Firm A and $20,000 will go to Firm B.
- Legal Expenses –(At this point there is $60,000 of the $100,000.00 remaining). In order for claims to be prosecuted by an attorney, there are certain expenses that will be incurred. A few examples of legal examples would include deposition costs, expert fees, and costs for travelling. In some situations it can wind up costing several thousands of dollars to cover the expenses of a case. For this example we’ll say the expenses are $18,000.
- Liens and Medical Expenses – (At this point there is $42,000 of the $100,000.00 remaining). The final mount that is to be paid from the settlement amount is any outstanding medical liens and expenses. It is allowed by the federal government and most states for physicians, government agencies, and hospitals to recover from settlements any amount they are owed. A rule that is often used when calculating settlements is to figure the recovery amount may be up to three times what the cost of their medical expenses are. In this example, it means the plaintiff’s medical expenses were about $33,000.
- The Client’s Part – There is only $9,000 left from the beginning amount of $100,000.00 which covers lost wages, pain and suffering, the time used to file the lawsuit, and in many cases lost relationships with a significant other.
It is a misconception that plaintiffs file a suit in order to get rich—A lawsuit is brought about to ensure no-one else ends up going through what they had to go through—it is not about the settlement amount. Communities are made to be a lot safer when plaintiffs stand their ground against those that break the law and make certain they are held liable for their actions.