No Win No Fee Lawyers. What Do You Need To Know Before You Hire One?
The pain you feel after being injured in an accident, because of someone else’s fault, is just the beginning. What generally comes next is financial strain as medical expenses pile up, no money coming in if you can’t work etc. Your financial stress makes everything so much more difficult and worrying. How to pay the bills, the rent, the mortgage, to buy the essentials of life?
Just the thought of hiring a personal injury lawyer to help you receive compensation for your losses can be scary. You may think that forking out more money will only make matters worse.
Whilst this makes sense, the reality is that there is a way you can afford to obtain legal help without having to further deplete your finances, namely be engaging a no win no fee lawyer.
With no win no fees, you pay nothing to get your claim started and finished. But what do you need to know before hiring a no win no fee lawyer? How can you be sure you have chosen the right lawyer?
If you’ve recently suffered a serious injury in a car accident, in the workplace, from negligent medical treatment or from a slip and fall, you need to have a closer look at no win no fee lawyers to understand how the process works, and how you can find the best personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim.
What Exactly Is A No Win No Fee Lawyer And How Do They Work?
No win no fee lawyers are lawyers who will take on your case with the agreement that you’ll only pay them should they end up winning your personal injury case. Either by a settlement or winning in court.
But how do they work? The answer is that you and your lawyer enter into a no win no fee agreement. This way the lawyer takes the financial risk of your personal injury claim being unsuccessful.
If your claim is finalised successfully, the losing insurance company will have to pay most of the legal costs. In most cases you will have to pay your lawyer the costs which the insurance company does not have to pay. This is called a gap, much like a Medicare gap.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- No win no fee lawyers are only likely to take on compensation cases which have a reasonable chance of being successfully finalised.
- You’re in a position where you can’t afford to pay your lawyer until your claim has succeeded and you have received lump sum compensation.
- You need to know how much you’re going to pay to your lawyer when you win or settle your case, ie the gap.
No win no fee lawyers can be an invaluable resource for injured persons who have potential compensation claims and who can’t afford to pay a lawyer until the successful end of the claim.
How Much Do No Win No Fee Lawyers Charge?
The amount of the gap you end up having to pay your personal injury lawyers on a no win no fee basis depends on which lawyer firm you choose. Some lawyers tend to charge higher fees than others.
Let’s take a look at some of the no win no fee costs that you might encounter when you decide to hire a no win no fee lawyer.
- The amount of money lawyers are able to take from your compensation lump sum must be reasonable and based on the amount of work done by your lawyer to achieve the successful outcome. Every case is different. Again, some lawyers tend to charge more for the gap than others. Make sure that you know how much you’re going to be charged before entering a no win no fee agreement. Also, be aware that lawyers are not permitted to charge a percentage of the outcome. That’s illegal here, unlike in the USA.
- Some no win no fee agreements can be tricky. While some lawyers say that they won’t charge you if you lose, there still may be some costs associated with hiring them. Most notably, disbursement fees and barristers’ fees. Disbursement fees are the costs of preparing the claim, eg the cost of medico-legal reports. Some lawyers will charge you interest on disbursements, or arrange a litigation lender to pay the disbursements, at high interest rates. This can be an additional unforeseen cost. Some lawyers may also hire barristers and other professionals to help them navigate and prepare your case, which will be an extra costs you have to pay (NB highly experienced and competent lawyers rely less on barristers than inexperienced and less competent lawyers).
- There may be an uplift fee/success fee associated with your case in some situations. Some lawyers will charge uplift/success fees, which are essentially additional costs thrown on top of the other fees that you’re being charged to use their services. You should make sure to ask the lawyer if they will charge an uplift of fees.
- Some personal injury lawyers will agree to not charge more than a certain percentage of your lump sum settlement, ie no more than 20%. While this may initially seem enticing, it’s crucial to exercise caution since certain law firms might still charge the full percentage regardless of the amount of work they have put into your case.
- Put simply, the amount that you can expect to pay for legal help will depend on the no win no pay compensation lawyers you hire. Do your due diligence to make sure that your legal team are specialists, reputable, reliable and reasonable.
Is It Safe To Trust A No Win No Fee Lawyer With My Case?
No win no fee personal injury lawyers in Australia are not necessarily any different from lawyers you would have to pay fees upfront. As such, you should look for the right lawyer for your claim.
For example, do the lawyers have stellar success rates? Do they have plenty of great Google reviews from satisfied clients? Do they have decades of experience in personal injury law so they know all their opponents, the judges and Assessors, the best medico-legal experts and the best barristers? Are they accredited specialists in personal injury law?
It’s crucial that you carefully vet any personal injury lawyer and not rely too much on lawyers’ glossy websites, whether they offer no win no fees services or not. If you hire just any lawyer, you run the risk of potentially losing your case, being overcharged fees and/or being under compensated. We cover this in greater detail below.
Are No Win No Fee Lawyers Good?
There may be a negative stigma surrounding personal injury lawyers who are sometimes unfairly referred to as ambulance chasers, especially those lawyers who advertise no win no pay. ie who are willing to take on a case for free until it wins. Most personal injury lawyers offer no win no fee agreement or guarantee.
Sadly, as in every profession, there are some bad apples amongst them; those who do little to progress claims, who fail to fight hard for their clients, who are poor negotiators and/or over-charge for their services.
As long as you do your research ( eg asking others who have had compensation claims), read Google reviews and work with a lawyer that has a positive reputation, you should be ok.
What If I Lose My Personal Injury Claim?
Engaging a personal injury lawyer is not a guarantee that your claim will be successfully finalised. Here are some of the biggest consequences you might face if you don’t win or settle your claim for compensation.
- The worst case scenario is that you lose in court and are ordered to pay the insurance company’s costs. That rarely happens in practice but cannot be ignored as a risk. This is why it’s important to know you have the best lawyer on your side.
- You may have to reimburse your lawyer for the disbursements the lawyer has paid on your behalf. Some lawyers seek refunds. Others write-off the disbursements. It’s a question you should ask the lawyer at the outset.
- Of course, a huge negative consequence is that you will not end up being compensated for your injuries and losses. This will be very disappointing and leave you in a bad financial position. This is even more reason to select the best possible personal injury lawyer who will maximise your chance of success, even if it means settling your claim on a compromised basis to avoid the risk of you receiving nothing.
Do No Win No Fee Lawyers Accept Cases They Know They Can’t Win?
A law firm is a business. It’s very expensive to operate. The lawyers in the firm put in a lot of time and effort to achieve successful outcomes for their injured clients.
As a result, law firms generally only take on cases which are commercially viable. Sometimes lawyers will reject the claims at the very beginning and in some instances way down the track when it becomes apparent that the risk of losing is simply too great to continue.
In any event, our law requires lawyers to certify that the claims they handle have reasonable prospects of success. If so certified and cases are lost, the lawyers may be ordered to pay the insurance company’s costs out of their own pocket or, worse still, face disciplinary action against them.
Are There Any Upfront Costs If I Use No Win No Fee Lawyers?
There shouldn’t be any upfront costs when you hire such a lawyer. However, that doesn’t mean that no win no fees is going to necessarily prevent you from paying money upfront. It all depends on the firm you plan on hiring. The lawyers may require you to pay for medical and other reports. This means that, even if you lose, you’re still going to refund the cost of disbursements your lawyers have paid on your behalf.
so, it’s important to know what you’re getting into prior to searching for, “no win no pay lawyers near me”.
Are There Any Hidden Fees When Using A No Win No Fee Lawyer?
Compensation lawyers with no win no fee contracts need to make money in order to pay their overhead expenses. Therefore, astute personal injury lawyers will be careful which cases they are prepared to take on.
If you go for a lawyer that will defend you and only accept pay if you win, that does not necessarily mean that you won’t be charged other fees besides a portion of your compensation. We’ve covered quite a few of these fees in the sections above, and the ones you’ll want to keep an eye out for when you hire a lawyer include:
- Uplift/success fees ( even in cases which you can’t lose)
- Disbursement fees (eg for medico-legal and other expert reports)
- Interest on disbursement paid by your lawyer
- Interest on disbursement payable to your litigation lender – you should avoid engaging law firms who use litigation lenders.
- Barristers’ fees ( in some types of personal injury law eg motor vehicle accident compensation, the insurer on risk is not liable for your barrister’s fees.
- Some firms will charge for sending or receiving email. Again, these firms should be avoided.
Some lawyers will absorb some of the costs associated with managing your case while others will charge several different fees for their services. Make sure you evaluate the pros and cons when searching for lawyers in your area.
How Do I Choose The Right No Win No Fee Lawyer For My Specific Case?
You might be asking yourself, “Are there personal injury lawyers who specialise in cases like mine and offer a no win no fee option?”.
The answer is a resounding yes! Most personal injury lawyers offer no win no fee services. Here’s how you can find the right lawyer for your needs.
- Consider the type of claim you’re lodging: You absolutely need a lawyer with experience handling the personal injury claim you’re pursuing. For example, if you’ve been struck and injured by a car, you’ll want to look for a lawyer that specialises in motor vehicle accident claims. If you’ve been injured by a doctor’s negligence or another health provider or hospital, you’ll want to engage a no win no fee medical negligence lawyer.
Likewise, if you have been injured or have fallen ill at work, have experiened a slip and fall accident in a public place, or even need support with superannuation and TPD, you should look for a workers compensation lawyer, a public liability lawyer, or TPD claim lawyers, respectively. Some law firms specialise in all areas of personal injury, which will help you get the specific attention and support you need.
- Go over their cost agreement: We’ve covered all of the hidden fees, upfront fees, and unexpected elements of hiring a no win no fee lawyer. With this information, you can confidently approach the lawyer of your choice and ask more about the process.eg do you have to pay anything upfront? What happens if you lose? What other fees might I have to pay? Do they use litigation lenders to fund disbursements? To what extent will they rely on barristers? These questions will help you eliminate any doubt or concerns you have.
- Provide them details of your accident and injuries: You don’t want to waste your time with a lawyer that doesn’t believe you have a reasonable chance of winning or settling your case. This is why an initial consultation is of the utmost importance. Here, you can provide your lawyer with all of the details about your pre-accident circumstances and history, the accident or situation in which you were injured, your injuries, restrictions and losses, and give them everything they need upfront so they can determine if it’s a case they want to take on. If they don’t think it’s for them, or they don’t have enough experience and knowledge to manage your case, you can seek the advice of another lawyer until you find one that you have confidence in to get it done for you.
- Get outside advice: Remember that although there are time limits to lodge a claim or commence court proceedings, you will normally have sufficient time to weigh up your options. Don’t just work with the first lawyer you can find. If you’re unsure about anything about the competence and experience of the lawyer and/or the costs agreement you can also seek out for independent legal advice (a lawyer who has no relationship to the lawyer you’re hiring) to ensure you have chosen the best lawyer for your case.
Can I Get A No Win No Fee Lawyer To Represent Me For Free?
In essence, these lawyers are representing you for free if they don’t ask you to pay professional fees and other upfront costs until you win or settle your claim (or even cover the costs of disbursements except or paying the insurance company’s legal costs if you lose). This is a major consideration for those who lack the financial capacity to pay lawyer’s fees.
But can you get a no win no fee personal injury lawyer to represent you for absolutely free? This is unlikely. Whilst no win no fee means that you pay no fees/costs to your lawyer if your claim is unsuccessful, you may be charged for the lawyer’s outlays (disbursements) and barrister’s fees.
If you’re looking for free legal counsel, you may want to see if there are any pro bono lawyers in your area. Some firms will generally take on free cases and help those in need without requiring payment for their services in return. The eighth National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey conducted by The Australian Pro Bono Centre indicate that the average pro bono participation rate by staff at responding firms (47 firms responded) was reported at 57 percent.
Just keep in mind that pro bono doesn’t always mean that you won’t spend money. While you’ll save money on legal counsel, you’ll still be required to pay for various fees like filing paperwork and other costs associated with lodging your claim.
Where Can I Find Reputable No Win No Fee Lawyers To Represent Me? Start Here With Stacks Goudkamp!
If you have a personal injury claim that you need help with, Stacks Goudkamp is here for you. Our team of talented, dedicated, empathetic, knowledgeable and reputable personal injury lawyers have over 40 years of experience supporting clients with personal injury cases. We are a no win no fee law firm where our clients’ interests are foremost.
Unlike some of the other types of law firms and lawyers we’ve listed in the guide above, we will not require you to pay our legal fees, or any expenses (disbursements), unless we win or successfully settle your personal injury claim. We know that dealing with both an injury and an illness whilst being out of work can be financially very difficult. That’s why we make sure you can rest easy knowing that you don’t pay us anything, even disbursements, to allow you to concentrate on your rehabilitation and recovery.
We do not use litigation lenders to fund disbursements.
Are you ready to lodge your personal injury claim with the help of seasoned no win no fee lawyers?
If so, call us today at (02) 4058 2715 or contact us online for a free comprehensive initial consultation where we’ll learn more about your personal injury claim, and explain the no win no fee process, and the next steps.