If another driver is to blame for your vehicle accident, you'll probably be able to hire your own injury attorney on a "contingency fee" basis. Find out 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 will end up buying plaintiff's car accident lawyer (one who represents the person filing your own injury lawsuit, when a case causes it to be to court). But how much can you need to cover?
Most car accident attorneys charge because of their services in a fairly unique way—in place of the hourly fee that many firms charge in other forms of cases. The typical car accident lawyer will charge a "contingency fee" to defend myself against an injury case. A contingency fee ensures that the firm won't receives a commission any attorney's fees unless you recover money in your case. The lawyer or law firm can get paid a share of money received from any car insurance settlement or jury verdict (if the case goes all how you can trial).
In this information, we'll have a closer look at how contingency fees work and what you can get if you choose to hire a lawyer to handle 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 based on whether your own injury lawsuit has to be filed against another driver (the defendant). If the case settles before it goes to court, the percentage may be on the lower 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.
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 following the complaint is answered. In this example, the attorney can recover $36,000.
It is definitely very 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, exactly like everything in a contract, the fee is negotiable. If yours is a "cut and dry" case—fault for the car accident and your damages are clear, the defendant has a lot of car insurance, and there's ample evidence copying your claims—you can certainly negotiate a lowered contingency percentage. You don't need to stop a next of your compensation mainly because you need the leverage of getting a lawyer on your side.
Fees and Expenses
With respect to 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 cover the above-mentioned fees as they become due. If your contract states that you will be in charge of these costs, you can expect your own injury firm to call you and seek payment as the fees become due. If you cannot pay these fees, your case will probably 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 will soon 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 example, your attorney would receive $10,000 as reimbursement for the expense and expenses, and $30,000 for legal services. You would wind up receiving $60,000 as your 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 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 know that you won't accept that, and when it becomes an offer breaker, it's probably best to get another lawyer.
Other Fee Arrangements
Not all cases will involve a pure contingency fee arrangement. Lawyers may collect a preliminary retainer to start your case and also collect a contingency fee by the end of your case. However, if you recover money, the total amount already paid to the attorney must be subtracted from the percentage because of the attorney by the end of the case. As an 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 flat fee payment for legal services. Flat fee arrangements are normally reserved for less-complex cases. A law firm may charge a flat fee where in actuality the legal representation is limited to drafting and responding 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 severe the injuries, the greater the worthiness of hiring a lawyer. If you had been in a fender bender with minimum injuries, you can probably negotiate your own injury settlement with out a lawyer. On another hand, if you had been injured and needed any significant medical treatment, the worthiness of your case rises quickly. This implies the insurance adjuster will work to minimize your damages and try to obtain you to accept a suprisingly low settlement offer—they're in the commercial of making money, not spending it, after all. In that situation, having a skilled lawyer on your side becomes essential.