If another driver is at fault for your vehicle accident, you'll probably manage to hire an individual injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Find out when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in an auto accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was at fault, you will end up looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the person filing an individual injury lawsuit, when a case causes it to be to court). But just how much do you want to need to pay for?
Most car accident attorneys charge for their services in a reasonably unique way—as opposed to the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other types of cases. The typical car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to battle a personal injury case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm will not get paid any attorney's fees if you don't recover money in to your case. The lawyer or law firm are certain to 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 article, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and everything you can expect if you choose to hire a lawyer to deal with 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 yourself 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 depending on whether an individual injury lawsuit needs to be filed against another driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it would go to court, the percentage might be on the lower side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following 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 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, 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 for 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this case, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is always very important to speak along with your attorney concerning the contingency fee and to carefully review your contract for legal services. If you may not understand the fee arrangement as stated 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 vehicle accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has plenty of car insurance, and there's ample evidence copying your claims—you are able to certainly negotiate a diminished contingency percentage. That you do not need to give up a third of your compensation simply because you need the leverage of having a lawyer in your side.
Fees and Expenses
With respect to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you may or may not result in upfront court fees and other litigation expenses, like 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 while they become due. If your contract states that you're responsible for these costs, you are able to expect an individual injury firm to call you and seek payment as the fees become due. If you cannot pay these fees, your case will 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 is going to 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 will 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 end up receiving $60,000 as a final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Make sure that your lawyer takes their fee out of the "net settlement"—that is, the 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 when it becomes a package breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not absolutely all cases will involve a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an original retainer to start your case and also collect a contingency fee at the conclusion of your case. However, if you recover money, the amount already paid to the attorney ought to be subtracted from the percentage due to the attorney at the conclusion of the case. As an example, 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 generally reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a flat fee where the legal representation is limited to drafting and giving an answer to a demand letter. For the reason 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 much more serious the injuries, the higher the worth of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a minor fender bender with little or no injuries, you are able to probably negotiate an individual injury settlement with out a lawyer. On another hand, if you're injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worth of your case rises quickly. This implies the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to simply accept a very low settlement offer—they are in the business of earning profits, not spending it, after all. For the reason that situation, having a skilled lawyer in your side becomes essential.