If the other driver is responsible for your vehicle accident, you'll probably manage to hire your own injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Discover when it's worth the cost.
If you've experienced a car accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was responsible, you'll be looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing your own injury lawsuit, whenever a case helps it be to court). But how much will you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge due to their services in a reasonably unique way—rather than the hourly fee that many firms charge in other types 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 get paid any attorney's fees until you recover money in your case. The lawyer or law firm will 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 article, we'll take a closer look at how contingency fees work and what you can get if you determine to hire a lawyer to take care of 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, when 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 your own injury lawsuit has to be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes 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 formal response 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 the other 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, suppose 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 case, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is definitely very important to speak along 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 previously mentioned in the contract, ask your attorney to spell out it to you.
Also, the same as 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 lots of car insurance, and there's ample evidence burning your claims—you are able to certainly negotiate a diminished contingency percentage. You do not need to give up a third of one's compensation simply because you need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your side.
Fees and Expenses
Depending on the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you may or might 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 as they become due. If your contract states that you will be responsible for these costs, you are able to expect your own injury firm to call you and seek payment as 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 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 expenses and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would end up receiving $60,000 as one last recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Be sure that your lawyer takes their fee from the "net settlement"—that's, the total amount left after case expenses are deducted. This arrangement is typical. However, some law firms may try to increase their pay by taking their money out first. Let them understand 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 will involve a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an original retainer to start your case and also collect a contingency fee by 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 as a result of attorney by the end of the case. For 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 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. For the reason that case, the fee may vary from $300 to $1,000.
Is a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The general rule is this: The more severe the injuries, the more the worth of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a fender bender with little if any injuries, you are able to probably negotiate your own injury settlement with no lawyer. On the other hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worth of one's case rises quickly. This means the insurance adjuster works to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to simply accept a really low settlement offer—they're in the business of making money, not spending it, after all. For the reason that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your side becomes essential.