If one 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. Find out when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in a vehicle accident, and it's pretty clear that one other driver was at fault, you'll be looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing an individual injury lawsuit, each time a case causes it to be to court). But how much do you want to need to pay?
Most car accident attorneys charge for their services in a fairly unique way—as opposed to the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other types of cases. The normal car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to battle an injury case. A contingency fee implies that the firm will not get paid any attorney's fees if you don't recover money into 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 the best way to trial).
In this information, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and everything you can expect if you decide to hire a lawyer to deal with your vehicle accident case.
The Contingency Percentage
The percentage that 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 may vary according to whether an individual injury lawsuit must be filed against one other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes to court, the percentage may be on the lower side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following the defendant has served a formal 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 instance, suppose your lawyer sent a demand letter to one 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 what the law states in your state) allows the attorney to get 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this situation, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is obviously crucial that you 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, the same as 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 lots of car insurance, and there's ample evidence burning your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lesser contingency percentage. That you do not need to stop a third of one's compensation simply because you need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your side.
Fees and Expenses
With respect to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you could or may not be responsible for 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 as they become due. If your contract states that you will be in charge of 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 will soon 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 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 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 quantity 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 know that you won't accept that, and when it becomes an offer breaker, it's probably best to get another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not totally all cases calls for a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an initial retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee at the end of one's case. However, in the event that you recover money, the quantity already paid to the attorney should really be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney at 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 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 the legal representation is limited to drafting and responding to a demand letter. For the reason that case, the fee may vary from $300 to $1,000.
Is a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The more severe the injuries, the greater the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you were in a minor fender bender with little or no injuries, you can probably negotiate an individual injury settlement without a lawyer. On one other hand, if you were injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of one's case rises quickly. This means the insurance adjuster works to minimize your damages and try to get you to accept a very low settlement offer—they're in the commercial of earning profits, not spending it, after all. For the reason that situation, having an experienced lawyer on your side becomes essential.