If the other driver is responsible for your vehicle accident, you'll probably be able to hire a personal injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Find out when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in a vehicle accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was responsible, you will be buying a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the person filing a personal injury lawsuit, each time a case helps it be to court). But just how much will you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge due to their services in a fairly unique way—in place of the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other types of cases. The normal car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to take on an accident case. A contingency fee implies that the firm will not get paid any attorney's fees unless you recover money in to your case. The lawyer or law firm are certain to get paid a percentage 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 have a closer look at how contingency fees work and what you can expect if you determine to hire a lawyer to handle 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, if 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 greatly depending on whether a personal injury lawsuit must be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it visits 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 answer 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 example, 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 regulations in your state) allows the attorney for 40% of a recovery after the complaint is answered. In this example, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is obviously crucial that you 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 previously mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, exactly like everything in an agreement, 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 plenty of car insurance, and there's ample evidence copying your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lesser contingency percentage. That you do not need to quit a third of one's compensation simply because you will need the leverage of getting a lawyer in your 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, just 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 cover the above-mentioned fees because they become due. If your contract states that you're responsible for these costs, you can expect a personal injury firm to call you and seek payment while the fees become due. If you fail to 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 likely 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 could be deducted from the settlement. Your attorney incurred $10,000 in costs and expenses. In this example, your attorney would receive $10,000 as reimbursement for the costs and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would wind up 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 is, 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 when it becomes a package breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not absolutely all cases calls for a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect a preliminary retainer to start your case and also collect a contingency fee by the end of one's case. However, if you recover money, the amount already paid to the attorney must certanly be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney by the end of the case. For 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 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 fact the legal representation is limited to drafting and answering a demand letter. Because case, the fee may range between $300 to $1,000.
Is a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The much more serious the injuries, the higher the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a small fender bender with minimum injuries, you can probably negotiate a personal injury settlement with no lawyer. On the other hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of one's case rises quickly. This means the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to have you to just accept a suprisingly low settlement offer—they are in the commercial of earning money, not spending it, after all. Because situation, having an experienced lawyer in your side becomes essential.