If one other driver is to blame for your vehicle accident, you'll probably have the ability to hire your own injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Learn when it's worth the cost.
If you've experienced a car accident, and it's pretty clear that one other driver was to blame, you will end up looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the person filing your own injury lawsuit, whenever a case helps it be to court). But just how much are you going to need to pay?
Most car accident attorneys charge because of their services in a reasonably unique way—rather than the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other forms of cases. The normal car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to take on an injury case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm won't get paid any attorney's fees if you don't recover money into 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 take a closer look at how contingency fees work and everything you can expect if you choose to hire a lawyer to take care of 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 according to whether your own injury lawsuit needs to be filed against one other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it would go 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 example, 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 regulations 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 definitely important to 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 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 a "cut and dry" case—fault for the automobile accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has lots of car insurance, and there's ample evidence backing up your claims—you can certainly negotiate less contingency percentage. You don't need to quit a third of one's compensation simply because you need the leverage of having a lawyer on your side.
Fees and Expenses
With respect to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you may or may not result in upfront court fees and other litigation expenses, 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 pay the above-mentioned fees because they become due. If your contract states that you are accountable for these costs, you can expect your own injury firm to call you and seek payment since the fees become due. If you cannot 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 undoubtedly be deducted from your own 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 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 expense and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You'd end up receiving $60,000 as your final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Make sure that your lawyer takes their fee out 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 understand that you won't accept that, and if it becomes a deal breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not all cases calls for a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect a preliminary retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee at the conclusion of one's case. However, in the event that you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney should really be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney at the conclusion of the case. For instance, 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 generally reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a set fee where in fact the legal representation is limited to drafting and giving an answer to a demand letter. In that case, the fee may vary from $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The typical rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the greater the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you were in a small fender bender with little or no injuries, you can probably negotiate your own 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. What this means is the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to simply accept a suprisingly low settlement offer—they're in the business of earning money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having an experienced lawyer on your side becomes essential.