Probably not. Most attorneys in Phoenix and throughout Arizona that represent clients in personal injury cases do so under a contingency fee arrangement. Zachar Law Firm is such a firm. A contingency fee agreement is a financial fee arrangement whereby a law firm’s fees are predicated (contingent) on a financially positive result. The arrangement is always based on a percentage of the result. For example, if the attorney is able to resolve the client’s case for $10,000 and the fee percentage is 40%, then the attorney will receive $4,000 and the client will receive $6,000. This example does not account for other expenditures (costs) but it does provide an example of how the arrangement works. To address the question, a similar example, but with the case resulting in a loss (no recovery) should be provided. If a victim’s claim is dismissed or a jury or arbitrator finds against you or awards $0, the lawyer would receive nothing and the client would receive nothing. Because the fee is earned only upon a positive financial result (more than $0), the fact that the attorney receives nothing also means that the client owes the attorney nothing. Thus, the original answer to the question is “no” but is better expressed as “probably not” because a contingency fee arrangement doesn’t always mean the client wouldn’t owe a fee or other cost in every situation.
It is important to distinguish between a “fee” and a “cost.” A fee is what a lawyer earns and is paid by a client. A cost is an expense that a lawyer will make on behalf of the client during the attorney’s representation of the client. Costs can be a variety of expenses, including things like expenses incurred in obtaining the client’s records or court fees in filing lawsuits. It is very common for the attorney to “front” the expense on behalf of the client and then have the client reimburse the attorney out of any recovery the client receives. Think of “fronting” a cost as an interest-free loan the attorney makes to the client, for the benefit of the client’s case. The “loan” isn’t directly paid to the client but instead is made to pay the client’s costs directly related to the client’s case. Many attorneys waive reimbursement of costs if the client’s case does not result in recovery (i.e. the client loses). Thus, in this situation, both the fee (contingent) and the cost are not owed by the client if no recovery occurs.
There are situations where costs must be paid by the client but these would be costs owed to the prevailing party (the party you sued and lost against). In Arizona, if the case proceeds to arbitration or trial and you lose, you may be required to pay the other side’s costs. While costs tend to be relatively low for either side (though this is case dependent), your attorney can often negotiate with the prevailing party to lower or even waive costs. Thus, while there are rare circumstances in which losing a personal injury claim will require the losing party to pay costs, fees are almost never an issue when it concerns a typical personal injury claim against the person or entity that caused your injuries.
Personal injury law can be extremely complex. This is why it's crucial to have the right Phoenix personal injury lawyer representing you after an injury.