If another driver is to blame for your car or truck 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'll be looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing your own injury lawsuit, each time a case helps it be to court). But simply how much do you want to need to pay for?
Most car accident attorneys charge for his or her services in a fairly unique way—instead of the hourly fee that lots of firms charge in other types of cases. The typical car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to take on an injury case. A contingency fee means that the firm will not get paid any attorney's fees until you recover money in 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 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 decide to hire a lawyer to handle your car or truck accident case.
The Contingency Percentage
The percentage that the 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 or truck accident case, your attorney will receive around $30,000.
A contingency fee percentage can vary based on whether your own injury lawsuit needs to 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 an official 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 case, 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 following the complaint is answered. In this case, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is obviously vital that you 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 previously mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, the same as everything in a contract, the fee is negotiable. If yours is just a "cut and dry" case—fault for the vehicle accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has lots of car insurance, and there's ample evidence copying your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lower contingency percentage. You never need to give up a third of one's compensation simply because you'll need the leverage of experiencing a lawyer on your own side.
Fees and Expenses
Depending on the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you could or may 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 as they become due. If your contract states that you will be 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 probably 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 be deducted from your own settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your car or truck 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 case, your attorney would receive $10,000 as reimbursement for the expenses and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You'd wind up receiving $60,000 as a final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Be sure that your lawyer takes their fee out 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 increase their pay by taking their money out first. Let them know that you won't accept that, and when it becomes a deal breaker, it's probably best to locate another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not absolutely all cases will involve a natural 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, if you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney must be subtracted from the percentage due to the attorney at the end of the case. As an 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 normally 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. In that case, the fee may range between $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The general rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the greater the worth of hiring a lawyer. If you were in a small fender bender with minimum 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 worth of one's case rises quickly. This means the insurance adjuster works to minimize your damages and try to have you to just accept a suprisingly low settlement offer—they're available of earning money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.