If another driver is to blame for your car 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 held it's place in an auto accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was to blame, you will end up looking for a plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the individual filing a personal injury lawsuit, when a case helps it be to court). But just how much will you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge because of their services in a fairly unique way—as opposed to the hourly fee that lots of firms charge in other types of cases. The typical car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to battle an accident case. A contingency fee means that the firm won't receives a commission any attorney's fees if you don't 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 the way to trial).
In this article, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and that which you can get if you determine to hire a lawyer to take care of your car 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 accident case, your attorney will receive around $30,000.
A contingency fee percentage can vary depending on 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 reduced side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following the defendant has served a formal 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 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 the law in your state) allows the attorney for 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this example, 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 don't 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 just 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 a lesser contingency percentage. You never need to give up a third of one's compensation mainly because you need the leverage of experiencing a lawyer on your own side.
Fees and Expenses
Depending on the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you might or may not result in upfront court fees and other litigation expenses, 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 cover the above-mentioned fees while they become due. If your contract states that you will be responsible for these costs, you can expect a personal injury firm to call you and seek payment while the fees become due. If you cannot 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 be deducted from your settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your car accident case for $100,000. Now, your contract stated that costs and expenses would 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 wind up receiving $60,000 as a final recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Make 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 an offer breaker, it's probably best to locate another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not all cases will involve a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect a preliminary retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee by the end of one's case. However, if you recover money, the amount already paid to the attorney must be subtracted from the percentage as a result of attorney by 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 range from $300 to $1,000.
Is just a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The overall rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the more the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a small fender bender with little if any injuries, you can probably negotiate a personal injury settlement with out a lawyer. On another hand, if you're injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of one's case rises quickly. What this means is the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to get you to simply accept a suprisingly low settlement offer—they're in the business of earning money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.