If the other driver is responsible for your vehicle 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 been in a vehicle accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was responsible, you'll be buying 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 just how much do you want to need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge because of their services in a fairly unique way—instead of the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other kinds of cases. The conventional 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 cash in your case. The lawyer or law firm can get paid a portion of money received from any car insurance settlement or jury verdict (if the case goes all how you can trial).
In this short article, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and everything you can expect if you decide to hire a lawyer to take care of 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, when you yourself 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 may vary based on whether your own injury lawsuit needs to be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes 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 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.
For example, suppose your lawyer sent a demand letter to the 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, suppose 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 definitely crucial that you speak with your attorney in regards to 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 really a "cut and dry" case—fault for the car 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. That you don't need to stop a third of your compensation simply because you will need the leverage of experiencing a lawyer in your side.
Fees and Expenses
With respect to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you could or may 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 as they become due. If your contract states that you are responsible for 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 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 be deducted from your settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your vehicle accident case for $100,000. Now, 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 costs and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You'd wind up receiving $60,000 as your final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Ensure that your lawyer takes their fee out of the "net settlement"—that's, the amount left after case expenses are deducted. This arrangement is typical. However, some law firms may try to boost 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 locate another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not all cases calls for a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an original retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee at the end of your case. However, if you recover money, the amount already paid to the attorney must certanly be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney at the end of the case. For instance, 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 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 really a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The typical rule is this: The more severe the injuries, the higher the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a small fender bender with little if any injuries, you can probably negotiate your own injury settlement with no lawyer. On the other hand, if you're 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 get you to just accept a very low settlement offer—they're in the business of earning profits, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having an experienced lawyer in your side becomes essential.