Auto accident lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases charge clients who are injured in an auto accidents in one of four ways: contingency fees, contingency fees with a retainer, hourly fees, and flat fees.
Contingency Fee Auto Accident Lawyers
Most automobile accident lawyers charge clients a "contingency fee", as opposed to an hourly rate for the attorney’s services. If a lawyer accepts a case where payment will only come from a pure contingency fee, the injured person pays nothing up front.
Instead, the auto accident lawyer incurs the expenses until the case either settles or the case goes to trial and there is a final judgment. If the case fails to settle or the client loses at trial, the injured person will not be obligated to pay any legal fees. Contingency fees are based on the percentage of money received from the settlement or verdict. Below are additional details involving contingency fees:
- Contingency Fee Percentages – If the case is pursued on a contingency payment plan, the injured party should expect a fee to be from 25%-45% of the settlement or judgment amount awarded. The fee varies depending on whether the case settles prior to litigation or actually ends up in court. Fees are also limited by state laws.
- Additional Expenses – There are various court filing fees and costs associated with ordering police reports and medical records. Additionally, if the case goes to court there will be expert witness and court reporter fees. Many lawyers include all fee and expenses in their contingency fee agreement. However, some lawyers may require the client to pay these fees when they become due, in order to continue the representation.
- Advantages and Disadvantages – Since the client pays nothing, there is more incentive for the lawyer to work hard for the best settlement or judgment possible. Also, the injured party do not need to have money to pay for expensive filing and other necessary fees. However, if the attorney settles quickly, many people may feel they did not earn their fee and would have preferred a flat or hourly fee.
Contingency Fee with a Retainer
Unlike a pure contingency fee explained above, the car accident lawyer may require a fee in the beginning of the representation called a retainer. The retainer fee will be collected on a contingency basis.
If the client receives money from the case, the retainer will be subtracted from the percentage that the lawyer would take at the end of the representation. However, the client will likely not be reimbursed the initial retainer amount. An advantage of this type of fee is that in ensures the attorney will be available at all times to represent the client.
Hourly Fee and Flat Fee Auto Accident Lawyers
Less common than a contingency fee or a contingency with a retainer are hourly fee or a flat fee. Below are the differences:
- Hourly Fee: Less common than a contingency fee or retainer arrangements, an auto accident lawyer may agree to take a case for an hourly fee. Therefore, the client must pay the attorney for every hour they work, regardless of whether the case is settled, or won if it goes to court.
- Flat Fee: Most car accident cases will not involve a flat fee payment for payment because of the uncertainty of the amount of work involved and the outcome. However, if the case is relatively simple, like writing a demand letter to the other side, the lawyer may agree to a flat fee
Should I hire a lawyer?
Car accident cases can be complex, especially if there are injuries to, not only your car, but also to your person. Insurance adjusters will often try to persuade you from hiring a lawyer. This is because, they want to settle for a minimal amount of money. In fact, studies have shown that injured party may receive more than three times the amount than a non-represented person. If you are involved in an auto accident, it is important to talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible and before talking to an adjuster.