If another driver is at fault for your vehicle accident, you'll probably manage 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 at fault, you will end up looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the person filing a personal injury lawsuit, when a case causes it to be to court). But how much will you need to pay for?
Most car accident attorneys charge due to their services in a reasonably unique way—in place of the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other forms 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 won't receives a commission any attorney's fees until you recover money in to your case. The lawyer or law firm are certain to get paid a portion 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 take a closer look at how contingency fees work and everything you can get if you decide to hire a lawyer to deal with your vehicle 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, 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 according to whether a personal injury lawsuit must be filed against another driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it would go to court, the percentage may be on the low side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and after 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 instance, 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 regulations in your state) allows the attorney to get 40% of a recovery after the complaint is answered. In this example, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is always very important to speak together with your attorney in regards to 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 an agreement, 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 a lot of car insurance, and there's ample evidence burning your claims—you are able to certainly negotiate a lowered contingency percentage. That you don't need to quit a third of your compensation simply because you will need the leverage of having a lawyer on your 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, 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 pay for the above-mentioned fees because they become due. If your contract states that you will be responsible for these costs, you are able to expect a personal injury firm to call you and seek payment since the fees become due. If you cannot pay these fees, your case will more than 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 is going to be deducted from your settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your vehicle accident case for $100,000. This time, 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 costs and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would find yourself receiving $60,000 as a final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Ensure that your lawyer takes their fee out of the "net settlement"—that is, the quantity 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 realize that you won't accept that, and when it becomes a package breaker, it's probably best to get another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not absolutely all cases will involve a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an initial retainer to start 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 certanly be subtracted from the percentage as a result of attorney at the conclusion of the case. For instance, 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 an appartment fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are typically reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge an appartment fee where in actuality the legal representation is limited to drafting and answering a demand letter. In that case, the fee may range from $300 to $1,000.
Is really a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the higher the value of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a fender bender with little or no 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 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're available of earning money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having an experienced lawyer on your side becomes essential.