Over the past decade, there have been millions of accidents in the United States alone. Despite more cars having air bags and other additional safety features, many people are still dying and getting injured in car and truck accidents every day.
Were you injured in a car or truck accident? Are you trying to decide whether or not to hire an attorney?
If you plan to hire an attorney, there are things you need to know. How much do accident lawyers charge is important. You will also need to understand how their fees get calculated and who pays for the costs.
Here are the answer to those questions.
How Much Do Accident Lawyers Charge?
For certain kinds of cases, lawyers normally charge an hourly rate or a flat-fee to handle a particular scope of work. However, when you hire a car and truck accident lawyer, it is different. For personal injuries cases, lawyers normally work on a contingency fee basis.
What is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee is an agreed upon percentage the lawyer will receive once the cases gets settled or resolved through more formal proceedings such as trial or arbitration. The customary or allowable percentage amount may vary from state to state, but the basic premise remains the same. The lawyer earns the contingency fee only if you win your case, otherwise you don’t pay the lawyer any fee at all for their services.
It is also typical that the percentage may change depending on how soon the case gets resolved. For instance, the car accident lawyer may receive one-third (33%) of the amount of your recovery before a lawsuit gets filed with the court. But if the case settles after the lawsuit gets filed, the lawyer could then receive forty percent (40%) of the recovery.
The amount of the contingency fee should be clearly stated in the retainer agreement you sign before the attorney begins work on your case. Keep in mind that this amount is likely negotiable.
However, unless your case is very strong and the party you will be suing is covered by adequate insurance, car collision attorneys likely won’t find it worth the risk to lower their fees for your case. Because in a contingency case, the attorney takes all the risk and doesn’t get paid for their services if they don’t win your case.
Who Pays for the Costs?
You will be responsible for paying for monetary costs incurred, whether you win your case or not. Since the retainer agreements entered into with car injury lawyers is negotiable between you and your attorney, how costs get handled can vary from case to case.
Typically, the costs incurred during the course of your case will get paid out of your settlement or the amount awarded at trial or arbitration. However, your attorney may ask for a retainer fee upfront to cover expected costs.
Some of the fees and costs that may be incurred while processing your case prior to filing a lawsuit can include costs to obtain copies of your medical records, police reports, and photographs of the scene. Once a lawsuit is filed, there will be court filing fees and possibly process serving fees, depending on who you are suing.
Other more significant costs can include deposition appearance fees, deposition transcript fees, and expert witness fees. If the case goes to trial, the costs can include trial presentations and witness fees.
Each case is different but your attorney should be able to give you a good idea of the chances of settling your case early. They should also be able to give you estimates of what costs might be incurred if your case settles at different stages in the litigation process.
How is the Contingency Fee Calculated?
An important point to understand before signing a retainer agreement with your attorney is how the contingency fee is calculated. Is the percentage the attorney receives based on your total gross settlement? Or does it get calculated after deducting the total costs from your settlement amount?
This matters because if the percentage is calculated without deducting costs from your gross settlement amount, the attorney’s fee will be higher and you will receive less money. Try to negotiate your agreement so that the attorney receives their fee from your net settlement (the amount remaining after deducting the fees from your gross settlement amount).
A retainer fee agreement where the attorney’s fee is calculated on the net settlement can encourage your attorney to be more frugal about cost expenditures. In the end, this can mean more money in your pocket (and possibly your attorney’s, too).
Don’t be worried that this will mean your attorney will be less aggressive in pursuing your case. There are state bar rules that require attorneys to be diligent in their representation of their clients.
Don’t Delay Hiring an Attorney
There are many good reasons to hire an attorney to assist you with your case. They know the legal deadlines that must be met to preserve your right to recovery. They also handle a lot of cases so they are more familiar with how much your case should settle for and how to get it resolved quicker.
Now that you know how much do accident lawyers charge, you will be better prepared for your first consultation with your prospective attorney. Don’t be reluctant to discuss fees and costs upfront, either. Remember, it is your settlement money that will be paying these amounts so it is in your best interest to know the answers.
Looking for more helpful knowledge about other important topics? You can find them by using the search tool in the top right corner of our site.