If another driver is to blame for your car accident, you'll probably be able to hire your own injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Discover when it's worth the cost.
If you've experienced an auto accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was to blame, you will end up buying a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents anyone filing your own injury lawsuit, each time a case helps it be to court). But how much do you want to need to pay for?
Most car accident attorneys charge for his or her services in a reasonably unique way—instead of the hourly fee that many firms charge in other kinds of cases. The conventional car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to take on an accident case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm will not receive money any attorney's fees if you don't recover cash in your case. The lawyer or law firm can 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 informative article, we'll take a closer look at how contingency fees work and what you can expect if you decide to hire a lawyer to handle 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 may vary based on whether your own injury lawsuit must be filed against another driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes to court, the percentage may be on the low 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.
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, 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 for 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this situation, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is always crucial that you speak together with your attorney about the contingency fee and to carefully review your contract for legal services. If you do not understand the fee arrangement as mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, the same as everything in an agreement, the fee is negotiable. If yours is just 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 burning your claims—you can certainly negotiate less contingency percentage. You never need to stop a third of your compensation mainly because you need the leverage of experiencing 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 lead to 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 for 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 since 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 going to be deducted from your 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 could 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 end up receiving $60,000 as one last recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Make sure that your lawyer takes their fee out of the "net settlement"—that is, 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 know that you won't accept that, and if it becomes an offer breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not absolutely all cases calls for a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an initial retainer to start 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 must be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney by the end of the case. For 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 will not involve a flat fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are generally reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a flat fee where in actuality the legal representation is limited to drafting and answering a demand letter. Because case, the fee may range between $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The much more serious the injuries, the greater the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a small fender bender with little if any injuries, you can probably negotiate your own injury settlement without a lawyer. On another hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of your case rises quickly. What this means is the insurance adjuster works to minimize your damages and try to have you to accept a very low settlement offer—they are in the commercial of earning money, not spending it, after all. Because situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.