What Does “No Win No Fee” Really Mean? : Making a Compensation Claim
If you watch day time television, or regularly listen to the radio, you will have no doubt heard from compensation law firms advertising their “no win no fee” cost agreements for personal injury claims.
Having worked in the largest personal injury law firms in the country, Ardent Lawyers' Principal Lawyer works with clients who instruct her to act in their personal injury claims on no win no fee basis regularly.
No win no fee cost agreements are offered to injured clients who couldn’t normally afford legal fees to make a compensation claim for the injuries they have sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence. These cost agreements alleviate most of the risk involved in making a claim, and avoids spending your hard earned money on a case which may not be successful.
When personal injury lawyers offer the opportunity for a claim to be run via a no win no fee cost agreement, they are confident that you will win compensation (so they can be paid at the successful conclusion of your compensation claim). However, there may be conditions that apply to a no win no fee cost agreement, depending on which law firm you instruct to act for you. These include:
- Most "no win no fee" cost agreements do not include the legal costs of the defendant if you lose your case at Hearing.
If you lose your case at Hearing, YOU PERSONALLY may be ordered to pay the defendant’s legal costs - not the law firm you have instructed to act for you. Whilst the majority of personal injury claims settle before a Hearing, and even more before the Hearing concludes, there is always a small chance you could lose your claim and be forced to pay the defendant's costs.
How can I avoid a cost order being made against me if I want to make a claim?
This is a tricky question to answer. A law firm who decides to run your case at Hearing is confident about your chances of success. No lawyer runs a case to Hearing thinking they are going to lose. The law firm representing you is going to want to run your case (if it can't be settled) so that they can recover the costs expended in making your claim. While there are almost always opportunities to settle your case before a Hearing (or even walk away), you may not get the expected compensation money your legal team want to achieve for you. Alleviating this risk is a matter for you, but it is a subject you need to be educated about before you decide to make your claim. If you have assets such as a home or savings, you are especially at risk to a cost order IF you lose your case at Hearing. If you do not have assets, the defendant will find it difficult to recover their costs from you if a cost order is awarded against you.
This condition (if applicable) should be discussed at length with your prospective personal injury lawyer before you sign a no win no fee cost agreement with them.
- The hourly rates of personal injury law firms are often a lot higher than general lawyer hourly rates.
This is because no win no fee cost agreements are a risk to personal injury law firms who rely on a successful outcome to your claim to pay their legal fees. You should consider, review and negotiate the hourly rates your compensation law firm will be charging you for your personal injury claim, and make enquiries with competitors about what they are charging for the same work. Most importantly, you should feel comfortable that your compensation lawyer is going to fight hard for your claim and has the time, dedication and passion to do everything possible to settle your claim on best terms to avoid having to run your case at Hearing. The skills involved in being an organised and fierce personal injury lawyer come from many years of experience. If you are paying top dollar for legal representation, you want to have the best compensation lawyer on your side.
How can I avoid being charged expensive hourly rates?
You may like to ask your prospective personal injury lawyer for a fixed fee agreement, capping your legal costs at a certain amount. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise to be able to calculate the likely legal costs in your claim and provide you with a fixed fee no win no fee agreement. This will protect you from an unknown and unexpected legal bill at the conclusion of your claim (if you are successful).
- A “win” may include ANY amount of compensation that is paid to you.
Keep in mind that even if you are offered and accept a small sum of compensation from a defendant, this may be considered a “win” in a “no win no fee” cost agreement. This means that legal fees may be payable to your lawyer even if you are only offered a small sum of money to settle your claim. If the compensation received is a nominal sum, your compensation lawyer should negotiate with you a fee that is reasonable to ensure you are left with the majority of the money in your pocket.
Ardent Lawyers Principal Lawyer has been representing injured claimants in their personal injury claims for years. We have experience from working in the biggest personal injury firms in the country, and provide a dedicated and expert service locally. We can offer you a fixed fee no win no fee agreement in most cases.
If you are considering making a compensation claim after sustaining an injury from someone else’s negligence, contact Ardent Lawyers on (02) 4444 6808 or email@example.com for a free consultation to see whether we can assist you in making a claim.