If you were involved in an auto accident that was the other driver’s fault, you will be the plaintiff should you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. It is important that you locate and choose an experienced car accident attorney to represent your interests and seek to recover full compensation for the injuries and damages you have suffered. You are likely wondering about the cost of hiring the best legal representative possible.
Auto accident attorneys use a fairly unique method to charge for their legal services. While other types of cases have hourly lawyer fees associated with them, car accident attorneys typically handle their cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorneys will not be paid any fees if their clients do not recover any funds in the lawsuits. If the clients do receive money through a settlement or a jury verdict, their attorneys get a percentage of the amount.
Keep in mind that there are expenditures lawyers must cover when working on auto injury cases such as:
- Court filings
- Mailing costs
- Process servers
- Records (police reports, medical charts, etc.)
- Expert witnesses
- Court reporters
Contingency Case Percentage
There is no certain set percentage amount that a personal injury attorney may receive in contingency cases, but a typical amount would fall in the range of 25 to 40 percent, with 33 percent being fairly standard for many law firms. If a victim recovers $100,000, and there’s a contingency fee arrangement of 33 percent for the law firm, the attorney would receive $33,000.
The contingency percentage can vary, determined by whether or not a personal injury lawsuit must be filed against the negligent driver of the other vehicle. Should the case settle before going to court, the percentage could end up being on the low side.
If a settlement is decided after filing the suit and after the other driver (the defendant) serves his or her formal answer to the complaint, the amount for the attorney may rise to 40 percent.
Let’s say an attorney sends a demand letter to the insurer of the negligent driver, and a settlement is quickly reached in the amount of $90,000. The lawyer would get 33 percent, or $30,000. If the same case, however, goes to a jury whose verdict grants $90,000 in a state that allows the lawyer to get 40% of the recovered amount after the complaint is answered, this changes the whole dynamic. In such a situation, the lawyer would receive $36,000.
Of course, the contingency fee is negotiable when making the contract. If your case is a very clear cut one where the other driver was obviously negligent, the damages you suffered are clear, and the evidence overwhelmingly backs up your claim, you have every right to negotiate for a lower percentage rate on the contingency fee. There is no reason to sacrifice a third of your outcome just because you need the legal leverage of an attorney.
Expenses and Fees
In some instances, an attorney’s contract for legal services may state that the client is responsible for the upfront payment of court costs and other litigation expenses. Some of these costs could include obtaining police reports and medical records, expert witness fees, and court reporter fees.
Some law firms make the client cover such fees when they come due. If this is a requirement stated in the contract, the law office will typically contact the client for payment. Should the client be unable to pay the fee at the time, the case could be delayed awaiting such payment.
Larger personal injury firms typically cover these types of expenses and fees themselves. Then later, after the final judgement or settlement happens, the total of expenses will be deducted. As an example, if an auto accident case is settled for $100,000, and the legal contract says expenses will be taken from the settlement, the $10,000 expenses will come off the top first. This means $10,000 goes to the law firm, then a third of the remaining $90,000 ($30,000) goes to the attorney’s contingency fee. The amount remaining for the client is $60,000.
Clients will want to be certain that the attorney takes the contingency fee from the “net settlement” after expenses have been deducted. If a law firm tries to take its contingency amount first, before deducting expenses, a client should inform the firm that this is unacceptable.
Other Types of Fee Arrangements
Some cases do not have a simple contingency fee arrangement. It may be that an attorney requires a retainer to start a case and then will receive a contingency fee when it is over. When a client recovers money at the end of the case, any amount already paid to the lawyer should be deducted from the contingency funds. If, for example, the client paid a retainer of $2,000 to the lawyer upfront, then recovered $90,000 by way of settlement, the lawyer should receive $28,000 at the end of the case, which is $30,000 less the $2,000.
Usually, auto accident cases do not have a flat fee cost for legal services. That type of fee arrangement is typical for less-complex cases. If the degree of legal representation is merely to draft and respond to a demand letter, many law firms may simply charge a flat fee. If so, the fee amount may run from $300 to $1,000.
Is it Worth the Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
It has been said that the more serious a person’s injuries are, the greater the value of having an attorney is. When an individual is in a very minor fender bender accident where there is little to no injury, the person may be able to negotiate a fairly decent personal injury settlement without the aid of an attorney.
However, if the individual was injured badly enough to need significant medical treatment, the case’s value rises significantly. In this instance, the insurance company’s adjuster will set about to minimize and discount the damages and attempt to get the victim to agree to a very low settlement amount. That’s what adjusters are trained to do, keep the insurance company’s money, not easily give it away. With this in mind, it becomes clearer why an experienced attorney can be a huge asset for an injured auto accident victim.
Covering Expenses While Waiting For a Settlement
Car accident lawsuit plaintiffs often find themselves in a situation where they are faced with mounting expenses (medical bills, car repairs, attorney fees, and more) while they wait for their settlement money. If you have been put in a tight financial position because of a car accident and need money to pay your bills, then The Legal Funding Group is here to help with accident lawsuit funding.
We offer car accident pre-settlement loans for plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit and need financial assistance. Cash advances are not approved based on credit checks or financial history. Contact us today at (912)-777-3997 or apply online for approval.