If you have been involved in a car accident, the cost of hiring an attorney can be a major concern. The good news is that, in most cases, hiring a car accident attorney will cost you nothing.
Most car accident attorneys use a contingency fee basis. This means that they will invest their time and talent in exchange for a percentage of what you receive as a settlement. If you do not receive anything, they will not charge you any money.
Three key things to remember as you hire a car accident attorney are:
- Most car accident attorneys use the contingency fee basis which means that their fee actually comes from your settlement or court judgment
- Choosing the right lawyer will make a big difference in your case because their payment is dependent on the outcome of the case. The right lawyer will work hard to ensure you receive a fair settlement
- Always read the fine print to ensure that the lawyer costs and expenses are fair
What Is a Contingency Fee?
While other types of lawyers charge an hourly rate, car accident attorneys charge a contingency fee where their fee is a percentage of the settlement you receive. This means that if your lawyer does not recover any settlement, they do not get paid.
Commonly, whether you are seeking a settlement or going to court, a car accident attorney needs to be with you every step of the way. If your lawyer is charging you by the hour, this means that the cost might be too expensive.
However, using the contingency fee basis, you only pay when your attorney settles or wins the case. This fee varies depending on the lawyer so always read the fine print to find out their fee percentage.
The American Bar Association estimates that the contingency fee for most layers falls between 33-3% to 40%. In some cases, if your case takes longer or requires mediation and other additional tasks such as arbitration or trial this fee may be higher.
Some factors that may affect the contingency fee include:
- Your state
- The duration of the case
- Whether or not you are going to trial
- The complexity of the case
It is critical to consult with several lawyers to find out all the details before hiring a car accident attorney. During these consultations, you can also find out the finer details of your claim and the potential outcome.
Some other expenses you might incur during your case include:
- Cost of obtaining medical record copies
- Expert witness fees
- Deposition expenses
- Court costs such as transcript copies
- Administrative costs such as copying, postage, research, and trial exhibit among others
Some attorneys might settle these costs for you and ask for reimbursement once your case is settled.
Generally, if your case is settled before going to court, the contingency fee may be lower compared to settling after the suit has been filed. If your case is tried in court and a jury gives a verdict, your fees may be high as 40%
Like all other fees, contingency fees are also negotiable. You can negotiate a lower percentage depending on your case.
If your damages are clear, you have enough evidence to back your claim, and the defendant has good insurance coverage, you do not need to give up as much as 33% of your compensation simply for having a lawyer as leverage.
Other Types of Car Accident Attorney Fees
Retainer and Contingency
Some lawyers may prefer a different type of fee arrangement. Usually, this involves paying a retainer at the beginning of your case and collecting the balance as a contingency fee in case of settlement.
Of course, any fees paid to your attorney at the end of your case should not include the initial payment so you should subtract the retainer.
If you are the defendant in a car accident case, you are likely to pay hourly rates. Although these rates are not common, most car accident attorneys who charge an hourly rate work at a predetermined rate. Whether you win or lose the case has no bearing on hourly fees.
Flat rates are commonly used for simple legal work or even advice. For instance, if your case is straightforward and you do not need a lawyer full-time, you can hire a lawyer to draft a demand letter on your behalf for a flat rate.
You can also hire a car accident attorney for a flat rate if you are in need of a specific task.In most cases, car accident attorneys do not accept a flat fee payment.
Is Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Worth the Cost?
If you are involved in a serious car accident, then you will need an attorney to help you fight your claim. However, if it was a minor accident with little or no injuries and clear liability, it is unlikely that you will need a car accident attorney.
In this case, you can hire a lawyer to draft a demand letter or negotiate a settlement with the other driver involved.
In most cases, an accident that results in extensive surgery and other medical treatments usually involves more expenses which means the value of your case significantly increases. An insurance adjuster may try to force you into a settlement early because it is cheaper for their company.
At this point, it is best to hire a car accident attorney if the case is worth the cost. Research shows that up to 74% of respondents who hired car accident attorneys receive some compensation while only 54% of respondents representing themselves received a payout.
Most car accident lawyers also offer free consultations. Consider getting in touch with a car accident attorney to find out more about your case. You do not have to worry about paying an attorney out-of-pocket even before your case starts.
In most cases, a car accident attorney’s fee is a percentage of your pay-out so you can work with an experienced lawyer risk-free.