If the other driver is responsible for your vehicle accident, you'll probably manage to hire a personal injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Discover when it's worth the cost.
If you've held it's place in a car accident, and it's pretty clear that the other driver was responsible, you will end up 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 how much are you going to need to pay for?
Most car accident attorneys charge for his or her services in a fairly unique way—rather than the hourly fee that lots of firms charge in other kinds of cases. The conventional car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to take on a personal injury case. A contingency fee implies that the firm will not receives a commission any attorney's fees if you don't recover money in to 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 the way to trial).
In this article, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and everything you can expect if you determine 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, 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 greatly based on whether a personal injury lawsuit needs to be filed against the other driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes to court, the percentage might be on the reduced side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and following the defendant has served a conventional 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.
As an 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 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 receive 40% of a recovery following the complaint is answered. In this case, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is obviously important to speak along with your attorney about 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 really a "cut and dry" case—fault for the automobile accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has plenty of car insurance, and there's ample evidence copying your claims—you can certainly negotiate a diminished contingency percentage. That you do not need to give up a third of your compensation simply because you'll 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 might or might not lead to 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 for 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 whilst the fees become due. If you cannot pay these fees, your case will more than 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 be deducted from your own settlement or final judgment. Let's say you settled your vehicle accident case for $100,000. This time around, your contract stated that costs and expenses would 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 costs and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would find yourself receiving $60,000 as one last recovery ($100,000 - $10,000 - $30,000 = $60,000).
Ensure that your lawyer takes their fee out of the "net settlement"—that is, the 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 realize that you won't accept that, and when it becomes a package breaker, it's probably best to locate another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not totally all cases calls for a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an original retainer to start your case and also collect a contingency fee at the conclusion of your case. However, if you recover money, the amount already paid to the attorney must be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney at the conclusion 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 will not 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 actuality the legal representation is limited to drafting and answering 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 much more serious the injuries, the higher the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a minor fender bender with minimum injuries, you can probably negotiate a personal injury settlement without a lawyer. On the other hand, if you're injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of your case rises quickly. This implies the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to simply accept a really low settlement offer—they're in the commercial of earning money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your own side becomes essential.