If the other driver is to blame for your car or truck accident, you'll probably be able to hire your own injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Find out when it's worth the cost.
If you've experienced an auto accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was to blame, you'll be buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing your own injury lawsuit, when a case makes it to court). But just how much are you going to need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge for his or her services in a reasonably unique way—in place of the hourly fee that lots of firms charge in other forms of cases. The conventional car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to battle a personal injury case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm won't get paid any attorney's fees if you don't recover money 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 the best way to trial).
In this informative article, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and that which you can expect if you decide to hire a lawyer to handle your car or truck 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 or truck accident case, your attorney will receive around $30,000.
A contingency fee percentage can vary greatly depending on whether your own injury lawsuit needs to be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes to court, the percentage might be on the reduced side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and after the defendant has served a proper 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 case, the attorney would again receive $30,000 (33%). However, suppose 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 receive 40% of a recovery after the complaint is answered. In this case, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is always vital that you speak together with your attorney in regards to the contingency fee and to carefully review your contract for legal services. If you do not understand the fee arrangement as mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to explain it to you.
Also, exactly like everything in a contract, the fee is negotiable. If yours is really a "cut and dry" case—fault for the car accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has a lot of car insurance, and there's ample evidence burning your claims—you can certainly negotiate a diminished contingency percentage. You do not need to stop a third of one's compensation simply because you need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your side.
Fees and Expenses
Depending on the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you may or might not result in 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 responsible for these costs, you can expect your own injury firm to call you and seek payment while the fees become due. If you cannot pay these fees, your case will likely not proceed until there's a payment.
Other personal injury firms (typically large firms), will cover all fees and expenses. However, the fees and expenses will undoubtedly be deducted from your settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your car or truck 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 case, your attorney would receive $10,000 as reimbursement for the costs and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would find yourself receiving $60,000 as a final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Ensure that your lawyer takes their fee out from the "net settlement"—that's, the total 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 understand that you won't accept that, and if it becomes a deal breaker, it's probably best to get another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not absolutely all cases calls for a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect a preliminary retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee by the end of one's case. However, in the event that you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney must certanly be subtracted from the percentage due to the attorney by the end of the case. Like, 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 won't involve a set fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are usually reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a set fee where in actuality the legal representation is limited to drafting and answering a demand letter. In that case, the fee may range between $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The general rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the more the worth of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a small fender bender with little if any injuries, you can probably negotiate your own injury settlement with no lawyer. On the other hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worth of one's case rises quickly. This implies the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to have you to accept a suprisingly low settlement offer—they are in the business of earning profits, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having an experienced lawyer on your side becomes essential.