If another driver is responsible for your car accident, you'll probably manage to hire your own injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Find out when it's worth the cost.
If you've experienced a car accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was responsible, you'll be looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the person filing your own injury lawsuit, when a case causes it to be to court). But how much can you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge because of their services in a fairly unique way—as opposed to the hourly fee that many firms charge in other kinds of cases. The typical car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to defend myself against an accident case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm won't receive money any attorney's fees if you don't recover money into your case. The lawyer or law firm will get paid a percentage 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 deal with 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 yourself 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 according to whether your own injury lawsuit needs to be filed against another driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it would go to court, the percentage may be on the low side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and after the defendant has served a formal reply 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.
As an 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 situation, 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 what the law states in your state) allows the attorney for 40% of a recovery after the complaint is answered. In this situation, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is always vital that you speak together 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 mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, exactly like everything in a contract, the fee is negotiable. If yours is just a "cut and dry" case—fault for the car accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has a lot of car insurance, and there's ample evidence copying your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lesser contingency percentage. You don't need to give up a third of your compensation mainly because you'll need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your own side.
Fees and Expenses
With regards to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you could or might 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 cover the above-mentioned fees while they become due. If your contract states that you will be in charge of these costs, you can expect your own injury firm to call you and seek payment while the fees become due. If you fail to pay these fees, your case will probably 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 settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your car accident case for $100,000. This time around, 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'd 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 is, the total 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 if it becomes a deal breaker, it's probably best to locate another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not totally 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 by the end of your case. However, in the event that you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney must certanly be subtracted from the percentage due to 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 typically 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. For the reason that case, the fee may range between $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The typical rule is this: The much more serious the injuries, the more the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you were in a minor fender bender with little if any injuries, you can probably negotiate your own injury settlement without a lawyer. On another hand, if you were injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of your case rises quickly. This means 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 earning money, not spending it, after all. For the reason that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.