If another driver is to blame for your vehicle accident, you'll probably be able to hire a personal injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Discover when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in a car accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was to blame, you'll be buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing a personal injury lawsuit, when a case makes it to court). But just how much can you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge because of their services in a reasonably unique way—rather than the hourly fee that lots of firms charge in other kinds of cases. The conventional car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to take on a personal injury case. A contingency fee implies that the firm won't get paid any attorney's fees until you recover cash 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 everything you can expect if you determine to hire a lawyer to handle 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, 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 based on whether a personal injury lawsuit has to be filed against another driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it visits court, the percentage may be on the reduced side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following 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 example, 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 the law in your state) allows the attorney to get 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this example, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is always important to speak 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 previously mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, exactly like 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 a lot of car insurance, and there's ample evidence burning your claims—you can certainly negotiate a diminished contingency percentage. That you don't need to quit a third of one's compensation simply because you will 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 might not be responsible for upfront court fees and other litigation expenses, just 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 cover the above-mentioned fees because they become due. If your contract states that you're in charge of these costs, you can expect a personal injury firm to call you and seek payment whilst the fees become due. If you fail to 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 soon be deducted from your own settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your vehicle accident case for $100,000. This time around, your contract stated that costs and expenses could be deducted from the settlement. Your attorney incurred $10,000 in costs and expenses. In this example, 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 your final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Ensure 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 understand that you won't accept that, and when it becomes a deal breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not all cases will involve a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect a preliminary 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 ought to 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 won't involve a flat fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are usually 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 typical rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the greater the value of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a small fender bender with little if any injuries, you can probably negotiate a personal injury settlement without a lawyer. On another hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the value of one's case rises quickly. What this means is the insurance adjuster will work to minimize your damages and try to get you to simply 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.