The amount personal injury lawyers can charge for a legal fee is regulated by the Law Society of British Columbia and lawyers are not free to charge whatever they want. Whether the lawyer decides to charge by the hour or based on a percentage, called a contingency fee, a lawyer cannot charge an amount that is unreasonable in the circumstances.
A car accident injury claimant should expect be charged a legal fee of one-third of what is recovered or less, unless the agreement is approved by the Court. This includes ICBC injury claims.
For medical malpractice and slip and fall cases personal injury lawyers will need Court approval to charge more than forty percent.
Generally speaking, the more difficult the case the more you should expect to pay for your lawyer. If there are issues of fault, credibility, pre-existing injury, multiple accidents, insurance coverage, ICBC accident benefits, litigation, and mitigation, just to mention a few, it is best to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer right away. Take a read of some of my other articles on hiring the best personal injury lawyer to fit your case…and your personality.
Legal Fees for Car Accident Injury Cases Involving Children
Legal fees for infants, people under 19 years old, are treated differently in British Columbia . Court approval of the legal fees payable to lawyers for the infant is generally required and is a a necessary part of the settlement process. In this BC personal injury case the Court approved the settlement of the infant’s claims for $13,000,000 and awarded the lawyers $2.4 million for their legal fees(E.B. v. Basi, 2012, BCSC 1169). Pursuant to s. 40(10) of the Infants Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 223, the Public Guardian and Trustee is required to provide written comments regarding any infant settlement for which court approval is sought. In British Columbia (Pubic Guardian and Trustee of) v. Ralston (Guardian ad litem of), 2008 BCCA 372, Judge Saunders summarized the factors to be considered in assessing the reasonableness of a contingency fee in an infant claim, based on Harrington, at para. 21:
1. the financial circumstances of the injury claimant;
2. the risk to the law firm where it carries case expenses;
3. the complexity of the issues;
4. the experience and skill of defendant’s lawyer;
5. the experience and skill of the claimant’s lawyer;
6. the risk assumed by the claimant’s lawyer that there would be no pay for effort expended;
7. the time expended by the claimant’s lawyer;
8. the importance of the case to the claimant; and,
9. whether the settlement is a good settlement.