How much do no win no fee lawyers take?
When it comes to WorkCover related matters in Victoria, the short answer is that it generally depends upon three factors:
- the amount of work required to be done
- the amount spent on disbursements
- the amount recoverable from the other side.
However, in order to properly answer the question, there’s a few things we need to unpack.
Having represented many clients over the years in no-win no fee matters, I’m well aware that costs are a huge issue for most people.
It can be concerning for some people to reach the end of their WorkCover matter and be left with a large legal bill – perhaps one that they weren’t expecting.
However, the reality is that some legal claims involve a lot of work.
Sometimes many years of work.
And much of this work is highly technical and specialised.
And so in some cases it makes sense that legal bills can be large.
When you pursue a WorkCover matter in Victoria, if you elect to engage a lawyer to help you, then in most instances they will be acting on a no-win no fee basis.
If you want to read more about how no win no fee works, you can visit this page.
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Not all no win no fee agreements are the same
It’s important to keep in mind that not all no win no fee agreements are the same.
For example, some law firms will offer 100% no win no fee.
This means that if you lose your case, you will not be required, generally speaking, to pay any legal fees to the firm for work done or disbursements incurred.
What are disbursements?
Disbursements are expenses that the firm will pay on your behalf in order to further your matter.
For example, it’s likely medical material will need to be obtained from doctors that have treated you. Your lawyer may need to pay for that medical material out of their own pocket.
This is an example of a disbursement.
A good way to think disbursements is in relation to having your car serviced.
When you take your car to a mechanic, the work done by them is comparative to the work done by the lawyer on your matter (called ‘solicitor/client’ costs).
In the course of fixing your vehicle, the mechanic may need to buy parts such as a fuel pump oil or an alternator. These are parts.
And this is like what disbursements are.
And when it comes to no win no fee agreements, some law firms will waive all of your costs if you don’t win your matter.
While other firms will waive the costs for work they did – but ask you to pay for disbursements.
This is important because a disbursement bill can be quite significant.
And the longer that your matter is on foot for, then generally speaking the higher the disbursement bill will be.
A matter than has been on foot for say 12 months, can have a disbursement bill for thousands of dollars.
And if your case involves engaging a barrister, then your disbursement bill can be significantly higher.
So how much will a no win no fee solicitor bill me?
When you when your case, the Victorian WorkCover authority is responsible for paying some of your legal costs.
You are then left to pay any of the leftover costs that are not covered by them.
These are made up of costs that the other side will not pay for.
For example, if your lawyer how do you seen by a specialist doctor, that doctor may bill $3000 for that assessment and report.
However the WorkCover authority may only pay for $2000 of that and so you’re left covering the remaining $1000.
It’s kind of like how Medicare works.
You go to a doctor and Medicare pays for part of the consultation and you pay for the rest.
In an Impairment lump sum claim matter the costs that a lawyer in Victoria will charge can be anywhere from $2000 up to $15,000 or more depending upon the law firm, the nature of the matter, the disbursements incurred and what can be recovered, the work required to be done and the outcome.
In a common law matter, you may pay anywhere from $15,000 all the way up to several hundred thousand dollars depending upon the same factors mentioned above.
It is important to keep in mind that lawyers should be charging based on the amount of work done rather than as a percentage of your settlement figure. They should be billing you the same amount regardless as to whether your claim settled for $200,000 or $800,000.
How much a no win no fee lawyer will take from your settlement monies depends upon a few things. How much work was done, the amount spent in disbursements and what is recoverable from the other side.
Keep in mind that no win no fee can vary between firms. If you lose your matter, some firms will waive the legal fees component for work done, but will ask you to pay for disbursements (expenses the firm has paid out on your behalf). Other firms will waive the entire amount.