Frequently asked questions on injury claims:
What does “no win no fee” mean?
It means the lawyer / law firm will not charge you for their fees until the successful outcome is reached. Things to look out for – are outlays also covered by this promise? What about if you lose and are ordered to pay costs to the other side? Check the definition of successful outcome. Also note if you terminate the costs agreement then the no win no fee promise is also cancelled, and you are then obliged to pay their fees no matter the result.
What does “uplift fee” or “success fee” mean?
An uplift or success fee refers to the professional fee being increased by up to 25% on the successful outcome being reached. EG if the lawyer’s fees were added up to total $20,000, then you apply a 25% increase making their total fees $25,000 plus GST. This is considered a fair price to pay for the lawyer waiting sometimes years to be paid and risking not being paid at all.
What is a litigation loan / disbursement funding?
Some lawyers use finance lenders to help pay for the outlays needed to run claims. If the funding comes via you, this is known as a litigation loan. If it comes via the law firm, this is disbursement funding. Either way, it can add 50 to 100% on top of the original price charged by the expert. EG a $2,000 report will cost you $3,000 to $4,000 by the time your claim settles.
What legal costs can I recover when making my claim?
This gets complicated, but the general rule of thumb for a success can be around half your legal bill being paid by the other side. However, there are laws in place that prevent this from occurring in work accident claims, and smaller claims. You’ll need to get more detailed advice for these areas.
What is a fair fee for an injury claim?
The starting point is to consider the service provided and the outcome achieved. What was effectively done for you and was the end result a good result. Did the case drag on, were you kept properly updated, did you get right advice on your options, were obstacles overcome and did they meet your expectations?
If you are not satisfied you can seek an itemised bill. Another good option is ask to meet with the manager or partner in charge and discuss any concerns. The best time to negotiate fees is when the money is waiting to be disbursed and the lawyers can be paid – it is a great incentive to them to overcome or work hard to make you happy.
There is no rule of thumb on fees, but a rough guide on average legal costs for simple claims worth $100K to $250K would be:
- To get to informal settlement – fees of $15,000 to $20,000
- To get to a compulsory conference – fees to $30,000, but should be well under.
When you get complexity like difficult liability issues, fights over paying for rehabilitation, multiple medical experts and other disputes, expect a higher bill.
You can and should seek progress reports including fees to date at regular intervals in your claim – say 3 monthly.