Most people know that lawyers are costly, but many do not know how much they'll actually pay. Car accident attorneys charge in a unique way, when compared to the hourly rates charged by lawyers in other kinds of cases; the typical lawyer charges a contingency fee in a personal injury case. With a contingency fee, the attorney does not get paid any fees unless you win your case. If you do prevail in court, the lawyer takes a percentage of your jury verdict or insurance settlement. Here, we'll look at how attorney's fees work, and you'll learn what to expect if you hire an attorney for your accident case.
The amount a lawyer can get in a contingency fee contract varies by state, but the typical percentage ranges from 25-40%, with one-third being a fairly standard amount. If you have such an arrangement and you win $90,000 in your settlement, your attorney gets $30,000. Some states have percentages that depend on the amount recovered and the stage of the case you're in.
Contingency fees can depend on whether the defendant has answered your complaint. If your case is settled before the at-fault party answers your complaint, the percentage is usually lower. However, if settlement comes after the complaint has been answered, or if a jury comes to a verdict, you'll get more money. It's important for you to talk to your lawyer about his or her contingency fees and to read your contract carefully, asking for clarification on things you don't understand.
Expenses and Fees
Depending on your attorney and the contract you sign, you might not have to pay for court fees upfront. Litigation expenses include filing fees, the cost of serving subpoenas and summonses, the cost of getting police reports and medical records, and expert witness costs. Many injury firms ask clients to pay these fees as they come up. Other, larger firms cover these fees for clients, but they deduct them from the final settlement.
Is it Worthwhile to Hire an Attorney?
The more serious your injuries are, the more you need an attorney. In cases involving serious injuries, insurance adjusters work to minimize damages, and they often want victims to accept low settlement offers. According to a study from the Insurance Research Council, victims with legal representation receive settlements up to 3.5 times larger than the average for those who don't hire a lawyer. An attorney can help you effectively negotiate with insurers while protecting your legal rights. Contact a firm like Klafter & Mason LLC for more information.