If another driver is to blame for your vehicle accident, you'll probably manage to hire a personal injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Learn when it's worth the cost.
If you've been in a vehicle accident, and it's pretty clear that another driver was to blame, you'll be buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents anyone filing a personal injury lawsuit, whenever a case causes it to be to court). But simply how much are you going to need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge due to their services in a reasonably unique way—rather than the hourly fee that numerous firms charge in other kinds of cases. The normal car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to battle an injury case. A contingency fee means that the firm won't receives a commission any attorney's fees if you don't recover cash in 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 article, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and what you can expect 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 goes to court, the percentage might be on the low side.
However, if settlement occurs after suit is filed and after 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 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 for 40% of a recovery after the complaint is answered. In this case, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is definitely vital that you speak together with your attorney in regards to 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 spell out it to you.
Also, the same as 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 plenty of car insurance, and there's ample evidence backing up your claims—you can certainly negotiate less contingency percentage. That you do not need to quit a next of your compensation simply because you will need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your side.
Fees and Expenses
With regards to the lawyer and your contract for legal services, you could or might not be responsible for 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 cover the above-mentioned fees because they become due. If your contract states that you're accountable for these costs, you can expect a personal injury firm to call you and seek payment while the fees become due. If you fail to pay these fees, your case will 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 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's, the total amount 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 know that you won't accept that, and if it becomes a package breaker, it's probably best to get another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not absolutely all cases will involve a natural contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect an initial retainer to begin your case and also collect a contingency fee at the end of your case. However, if you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney must certanly be subtracted from the percentage because of 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 usually reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a set fee where 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 a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost ?
The typical rule is this: The much more serious the injuries, the more the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you're in a fender bender with little or no injuries, you can probably negotiate a personal injury settlement with no lawyer. On another hand, if you're injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of your case rises quickly. What this means is the insurance adjuster will continue to work to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to simply accept a very low settlement offer—they're in the commercial of earning profits, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your side becomes essential.