If another driver is responsible for your vehicle accident, you'll probably be able to hire a personal injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Find out when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in a car accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was responsible, you'll be buying a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents anyone filing a personal injury lawsuit, whenever a case causes it to be to court). But just how much are you going to need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge due to their services in a fairly unique way—as opposed to the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other types of cases. The normal car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to defend myself against an accident case. A contingency fee implies that the firm won't receives a commission any attorney's fees if you recover money in to your case. The lawyer or law firm can get paid a share of money received from any car insurance settlement or jury verdict (if the case goes all how you can trial).
In this article, we'll take a closer look at how contingency fees work and what you can get 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, 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 greatly 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 might be on the low side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following the defendant has served a conventional answer 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 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, 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 to get 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this case, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is obviously 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 stated in the contract, ask your attorney to describe it to you.
Also, just like everything in a contract, the fee is negotiable. If yours is a "cut and dry" case—fault for the vehicle accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has plenty of car insurance, and there's ample evidence backing up your claims—you are able to certainly negotiate less contingency percentage. You never need to give up a third of your compensation mainly because you need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your own side.
Fees and Expenses
Depending on the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you could or may not result in 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 because they become due. If your contract states that you're accountable for these costs, you are able to 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's a payment.
Other personal injury firms (typically large firms), will cover all fees and expenses. However, the fees and expenses will undoubtedly be deducted from your own settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your vehicle accident case for $100,000. Now, your contract stated that costs and expenses could 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 expense 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 from 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 realize that you won't accept that, and when it becomes a package breaker, it's probably best to find another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not totally all cases will involve a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an original retainer to start 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 should be subtracted from the percentage due to 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 typically 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 worth of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a minor fender bender with minimum injuries, you are able to probably negotiate a personal injury settlement with no lawyer. On another hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worth of your case rises quickly. This implies the insurance adjuster works to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to simply accept a very low settlement offer—they are in the business of earning profits, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.