If the other driver is responsible for your car 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 held it's place in a vehicle accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was responsible, you will end up buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing an individual injury lawsuit, whenever a case makes it to court). But simply how much can you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge due to their services in a fairly 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 defend myself against a personal injury case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm won't receives a commission any attorney's fees unless you recover money 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 way to trial).
In this short article, we'll have 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 car 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 car 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 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 formal 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 regulations in your state) allows the attorney to receive 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 with your attorney about the contingency fee and to carefully review your contract for legal services. If you may not understand the fee arrangement as mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to explain it to you.
Also, just like everything in an agreement, 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 plenty of car insurance, and there's ample evidence burning your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lesser contingency percentage. You do not need to give up a third of your compensation simply because you will need the leverage of having a lawyer in your side.
Fees and Expenses
Depending on the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you may or may 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 as they become due. If your contract states that you're in charge of these costs, you can expect an individual injury firm to call you and seek payment since the fees become due. If you fail to pay these fees, your case will more than 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 will undoubtedly be deducted from your own settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your car 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 situation, your attorney would receive $10,000 as reimbursement for the expenses 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).
Be sure that your lawyer takes their fee 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 increase 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 totally all cases will involve a pure 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, in the event that you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney must be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney by the end of the case. As an example, 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 normally reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a set fee where in actuality the legal representation is limited to drafting and giving an answer to a demand letter. In that case, the fee may range between $300 to $1,000.
Is a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the higher the value of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a minor fender bender with minimum 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. This implies the insurance adjuster works to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to simply accept a really low settlement offer—they're in the business of making money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer in your side becomes essential.