If another driver is to blame for your vehicle accident, you'll probably have the ability to hire an individual injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Discover when it's worth the cost.
If you've held it's place in a car accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was to blame, you'll be buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the person filing an individual injury lawsuit, when a case helps it be to court). But just how much can you need to pay for?
Most car accident attorneys charge for his or her services in a reasonably unique way—instead of the hourly fee that many firms charge in other forms of cases. The conventional car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to take on an accident case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm will not get paid any attorney's fees until you recover money in your case. The lawyer or law firm can get paid a portion of money received from any car insurance settlement or jury verdict (if the case goes all how you can trial).
In this article, we'll take a closer look at how contingency fees work and that which you can expect if you choose to hire a lawyer to take care of your vehicle accident case.
The Contingency Percentage
The percentage a 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 have a 33% contingency fee arrangement and you recover $90,000 in your vehicle accident case, your attorney will receive around $30,000.
A contingency fee percentage can vary based on whether an individual injury lawsuit has to be filed against another driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it visits court, the percentage may be on the low side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and after the defendant has served an official reply 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.
As an example, suppose your lawyer sent a demand letter to another 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 definitely crucial that you speak with your attorney concerning the contingency fee and to carefully review your contract for legal services. If you don't understand the fee arrangement as previously mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, just like everything in a contract, the fee is negotiable. If yours is 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 copying your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lower contingency percentage. You don't need to quit a next of your compensation simply because you need the leverage of having a lawyer on your own side.
Fees and Expenses
With regards to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you might 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 pay for the above-mentioned fees as they become due. If your contract states that you're accountable for these costs, you can expect an individual injury firm to call you and seek payment while the fees become due. If you fail to pay these fees, your case will probably 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 be deducted from your settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your vehicle accident case for $100,000. This time, your contract stated that costs and expenses could 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 expenses and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would end up receiving $60,000 as one last recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Make sure 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 boost their pay by taking their money out first. Let them realize that you won't accept that, and if it becomes a deal breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not all cases calls for a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an initial retainer to start your case and also collect a contingency fee at the end of your case. However, if you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney should really be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney at the end of the case. For instance, if 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 typically reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a flat fee where in actuality the legal representation is limited to drafting and responding to a demand letter. In that case, the fee may range from $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The general rule is this: The much more serious the injuries, the greater the worth of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a small fender bender with minimum injuries, you can probably negotiate an individual injury settlement without a lawyer. On another hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worth of your case rises quickly. What this means is the insurance adjuster will work to minimize your damages and try to get you to simply accept a really low settlement offer—they are available of making money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.