Colorado accident victims usually share two common concerns. First is whether they’ll need a lawyer. Second, how much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer in Colorado? For most people, it is intimidating to think about hiring a lawyer and what that might mean financially. 

Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys in Colorado take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the client does not pay for legal services until the attorney recovers financial compensation for a personal injury claim. This allows people on limited budgets to fight for their legal rights to the fullest extent in a personal injury case. 

How Do Lawyers Usually Charge for Services? 

Aside from contingency fees, lawyers typically bill clients through hourly fees or fixed-rate fees. 

Hourly Fees 

Hourly rates are based on a set fee for the time that an attorney spends actually working on the case. 

At the start of an hourly fee case, lawyers will typically require a retainer from which they begin billing. The retainer amount will usually depend on the complexity of the case, and the hourly fee is based on the lawyer’s experience or a rate set by their law firm. 

Hourly fees must be reasonable and are typically associated with the following types of cases: 

  • Civil litigation
  • Family law
  • Criminal law 
  • Complex business litigation

The lawyer will track the time they spend working the case, create itemized statements showing the time spent on each task, and periodically send invoices for attorney fees to the client. 

Fixed-Rate Fees

Fixed-rate legal fees are when a lawyer and client agree to a flat fee for a certain service. This avoids complications and surprises after the work has been done. 

Some legal services that might be done at a fixed rate include: 

  • Preparing wills, trusts, and other estate-planning documents 
  • Drafting business contracts
  • Drafting real estate purchase agreements 
  • Issuing demand letters on behalf of a client. 

Usually, lawyers charge fixed fees for services that they are accustomed to doing and know how much time will be involved. 

How Do Contingency Fees Work? 

In a contingency fee arrangement, attorney fees are based on a percentage of the overall settlement value or jury verdict. Prior to representation, the lawyer and client will agree on the fee percentage the attorney or law firm will be allowed to collect. This contingency fee agreement is made before work is done on the case. In a contingency fee case, lawyers are paid at the end of the case, not upfront. 

The typical contingency fee in a Colorado personal injury case is about 33-40% of the recovered case value or damages recovered. 

A contingency fee arrangement will also involve costs and expenses. 

Some costs and expenses connected to a personal injury claim can include: 

  • Postage, copies, and office expenses
  • Costs for preparing for and taking depositions
  • Fees for expert witnesses 
  • Costs to obtain medical records, police records, and accident reports
  • Court filing fees and related expenses 
  • Preparation for trial exhibits
  • Travel expenses 
  • Costs to obtain and prepare digital evidence. 

Other costs can include medical bills from your injuries, medical liens, or subrogation claims from insurance companies. These costs are typically deducted and paid through your settlement. Since most law firms pay advance costs for their clients, reimbursement for these costs will come from settlement values. This motivates your personal injury lawyers to collect the highest dollar amount possible to fairly cover your expenses and attorney fees and leave you with enough to fairly compensate you for your injuries and emotional distress. 

Before agreeing to a contingency fee arrangement with a personal injury lawyer, you will want to make sure you have a clear understanding of how the fees are calculated. For example, you want to know whether your attorney will use the gross settlement amount to calculate their fee or if they deduct costs, liens, and other expenses beforehand. 

What Are the Guidelines for Contingency Fee Arrangements in Colorado? 

Contingency fee arrangements must comply with the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct

This means that the fee agreement must include: 

  • The terms of the agreement, in writing, from the lawyer to the client either before or within a “reasonable time” after representation starts
  • The name of the lawyer and the client
  • The nature of the claim involved, the services to be provided, and the circumstances under which the attorney can collect payment 
  • The method for determining the attorney fee, including the percentage going to the lawyer at final disposition 
  • Whether the attorney fee will be calculated before or after the deduction of costs and expenses advanced by the lawyer or law firm

These and other requirements are among the guidelines for contingency fees under Colorado law. As you can see, lawyers have clear rules to follow to protect themselves and also their clients. This means you can expect a clear explanation of how contingency fees work in Colorado. These guidelines also help set expectations for how much it really costs to hire a personal injury lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. 

How Do Personal Injury Attorneys Earn Their Contingency Fees? 

Contrary to what some might believe, personal injury lawyers do not simply wait for a settlement check to arrive after a car accident or slip and fall and collect their fees. A substantial amount of preparation and work is involved on the lawyer’s part to earn the best financial award for their client. 

Personal injury attorneys will go to serious lengths to obtain the best result for their clients, which will often include: 

  • Investigating the accident and causes of a client’s injuries
  • Identifying at-fault parties and potential witnesses to the accident 
  • Reviewing insurance coverage and policy limits 
  • Filing insurance claims and negotiating with insurers 
  • Locating and working with expert witnesses
  • Assessing the types of damages available, which can include economic damages, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, and even punitive damages 
  • Ensuring a lawsuit is filed within the two-year Colorado statute of limitations for personal injury claims  
  • Prepare and file a lawsuit if the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement
  • Prepare a case for trial if a defendant’s attorney will not make a fair offer during pretrial settlement negotiations 
  • Conduct depositions and exchange exhibits in preparation for trial 

An experienced personal injury attorney can handle your case from the initial consultation through settlement negotiations and trial representation. 

Contact a Boulder Personal Injury Attorney Today 

Don’t fear up-front attorney fees if you need a Boulder personal injury lawyer. Our dedicated legal team at Tenge Law Firm, LLC, offers free consultations to discuss the availability of contingency fees and your full legal rights in a Colorado personal injury claim. Contact us at (303) 665-2929 to schedule an appointment.