If the other driver is to blame for your car or truck accident, you'll probably be able to hire a personal injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Learn when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in an auto accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was to blame, you will be buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing a personal injury lawsuit, whenever a case helps it be to court). But how much can you need to pay?
Most car accident attorneys charge for his or her services in a reasonably unique way—rather than the hourly fee that lots of firms charge in other forms of cases. The conventional car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to defend myself against a personal injury case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm won't receive money any attorney's fees unless you recover money 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 how you can trial).
In this informative article, we'll take a closer look at how contingency fees work and everything you can expect if you determine to hire a lawyer to take care of 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 yourself 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 may vary according to whether a personal injury lawsuit has to be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it would go to court, the percentage might be on the low side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following the defendant has served a conventional 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 example, 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 what the law states in your state) allows the attorney to receive 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this example, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is obviously very important to speak together with your attorney concerning 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 explain it to you.
Also, just like everything in an agreement, 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 copying your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lesser contingency percentage. That you don't need to quit a third of your compensation mainly because you need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your own 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 pay the above-mentioned fees while they become due. If your contract states that you are in charge of these costs, you can expect a personal injury firm to call you and seek payment as the fees become due. If you fail to pay these fees, your case will likely 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 settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your car or truck 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 example, 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 your final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Make sure that your lawyer takes their fee from the "net settlement"—that's, the quantity 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 realize that you won't accept that, and when it becomes an offer breaker, it's probably best to locate another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not totally all cases will involve a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an original retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee at the conclusion of your case. However, in the event that you recover money, the quantity already paid to the attorney must be subtracted from the percentage as a result of attorney at the conclusion of the case. For example, 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 flat fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are typically reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a flat 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 range between $300 to $1,000.
Is really a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The general rule is this: The more severe the injuries, the higher the value of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a fender bender with little or no injuries, you can probably negotiate a personal injury settlement with no lawyer. On the other hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the value of your case rises quickly. What this means is the insurance adjuster will work to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to just accept a very low settlement offer—they are available of making money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having an experienced lawyer on your own side becomes essential.