If the other driver is to blame for your car accident, you'll probably have the ability to hire your own injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Discover when it's worth the cost.
If you've experienced a vehicle accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was to blame, you will be buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents anyone filing your own injury lawsuit, each time a case makes it to court). But how much will you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge for their services in a reasonably unique way—as opposed to the hourly fee that many firms charge in other types of cases. The conventional car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to defend myself against an accident case. A contingency fee implies that the firm will not get paid any attorney's fees if you recover cash in your case. The lawyer or law firm will get paid a share of money received from any car insurance settlement or jury verdict (if the case goes all how you can trial).
In this short article, we'll take a closer look at how contingency fees work and that which you can get if you decide to hire a lawyer to deal with your car accident case.
The Contingency Percentage
The percentage that the personal injury lawyer can receive in a contingency fee agreement varies, but typically ranges from 25 to 40 percent, and 33 percent (or one-third) is pretty standard. So, when you yourself have a 33% contingency fee arrangement and you recover $90,000 in your car accident case, your attorney will receive around $30,000.
A contingency fee percentage can vary greatly according to whether your own injury lawsuit has to be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes to court, the percentage might be on the low side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and after the defendant has served an official response to your complaint—or if the case proceeds to trial and a jury verdict is reached, the attorney's share may increase to 40 percent.
For example, suppose your lawyer sent a demand letter to the other driver's insurance company in your case, and you quickly reached a settlement for $90,000. In this situation, the attorney would again receive $30,000 (33%). However, guess that the case instead ended in a jury verdict of $90,000 and your agreement (and/or the law in your state) allows the attorney to get 40% of a recovery after the complaint is answered. In this situation, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is always very important to speak along with your attorney about the contingency fee and to carefully review your contract for legal services. If you don't understand the fee arrangement as stated in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, the same as everything in an agreement, the fee is negotiable. If yours is just a "cut and dry" case—fault for the automobile accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has plenty of car insurance, and there's ample evidence burning your claims—you are able to certainly negotiate a diminished contingency percentage. That you don't need to quit a third of your compensation mainly because you need the leverage of experiencing a lawyer on your own side.
Fees and Expenses
With respect to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you could or may not be responsible for upfront court fees and other litigation expenses, such as the cost of obtaining medical records and police reports, court reporter fees, and expert witness fees.
Many personal injury firms require the client to cover the above-mentioned fees because they become due. If your contract states that you're in charge of these costs, you are able to expect your own injury firm to call you and seek payment as the fees become due. If you fail to pay these fees, your case will more than likely not proceed until there is a payment.
Other personal injury firms (typically large firms), will cover all fees and expenses. However, the fees and expenses will soon be deducted from your settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your car accident case for $100,000. This time around, your contract stated that costs and expenses would be deducted from the settlement. Your attorney incurred $10,000 in costs and expenses. In this situation, your attorney would receive $10,000 as reimbursement for the expense and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would end up receiving $60,000 as your final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Ensure that your lawyer takes their fee from the "net settlement"—that's, the amount left after case expenses are deducted. This arrangement is typical. However, some law firms may try to improve their pay by taking their money out first. Let them realize that you won't accept that, and if it becomes an offer breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not totally all cases will involve a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect a preliminary retainer to start your case and also collect a contingency fee at the conclusion of your case. However, in the event that you recover money, the amount already paid to the attorney should be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney at the conclusion of the case. For example, in the event that you paid $2,000 to the attorney as a retainer and recover $90,000 in a settlement, the attorney will receive $28,000 from the settlement ($30,000-$2,000 = $28,000).
Most car accident cases will not involve a flat fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are usually reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a flat fee where in fact the legal representation is limited to drafting and giving an answer to a demand letter. In that case, the fee may range between $300 to $1,000.
Is really a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The more severe the injuries, the more the worth of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a minor fender bender with little if any injuries, you are able to probably negotiate your own injury settlement without a lawyer. On the other hand, if you're injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worth of your case rises quickly. This implies the insurance adjuster will work to minimize your damages and try to get you to simply accept a suprisingly low settlement offer—they are in the commercial of earning money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.