If the other driver is at fault for your vehicle accident, you'll probably be able to hire an individual injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Learn when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in a car accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was at fault, you will end up buying a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents anyone filing an individual injury lawsuit, when a case makes it to court). But just how much are you going to need to pay?
Most car accident attorneys charge because of their services in a fairly unique way—instead of the hourly fee that many firms charge in other forms of cases. The normal car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to battle an injury case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm won't get paid any attorney's fees unless you recover cash in your case. The lawyer or law firm will get paid a portion 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 what you can expect if you decide to hire a lawyer to take care of your vehicle 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 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 must be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it would go to court, the percentage may be on the reduced side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following 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 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 for 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this situation, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is obviously very important to speak together with your attorney concerning the contingency fee and to carefully review your contract for legal services. If you do not understand the fee arrangement as stated in the contract, ask your attorney to describe it to you.
Also, just like everything in an agreement, the fee is negotiable. If yours is just a "cut and dry" case—fault for the vehicle accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has a lot of car insurance, and there's ample evidence backing up your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lower contingency percentage. You do not need to give up a third of your compensation mainly because you will need the leverage of getting a lawyer in your side.
Fees and Expenses
Depending on 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 the above-mentioned fees while they become due. If your contract states that you will be 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 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 is likely to be deducted from your own settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your vehicle accident case for $100,000. Now, 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 expenses and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You'd wind up receiving $60,000 as your final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Make sure 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 when it becomes a package breaker, it's probably best to get another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not all cases will involve a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an initial retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee by the end of your case. However, if you recover money, the amount already paid to the attorney should be subtracted from the percentage as a result of attorney by the end 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 won't involve an appartment fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are generally reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge an appartment fee where in fact the legal representation is limited to drafting and responding to a demand letter. For the reason that case, the fee may range from $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the greater the value of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a fender bender with little if any injuries, you can probably negotiate an individual injury settlement with no lawyer. On the other hand, if you're injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the value of your case rises quickly. What this means is the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to accept a really low settlement offer—they are in the commercial of earning money, not spending it, after all. For the reason that situation, having an experienced lawyer in your side becomes essential.