If you've been involved in a car accident, you may want to retain a personal injury lawyer to ensure the pursuit of justice. Once you've dealt with the injuries, you might want to figure out what your options are for taking the other party to court for damages. If you were the at-fault driver, you might need to get a lawyer on your side to ensure that you can defend yourself from potential litigation. If the case goes to court, the party without a lawyer will be disadvantaged. However, there are cases where the law may not look unkindly the at-fault driver. Let's find an answer to 'How much does a car accident lawyer cost?'.
Some states in the US are known as "no-fault" states. The Insurance Information Institute notes that these states limit an injured party's right to sue. A skilled personal injury lawyer will know the laws governing a particular state and will be able to advise you on what you can do as someone who believes they've been the victim of a car crash. In some cases you may be entitled to sue the insurance company instead of the individual at fault to get compensation for injuries. Some states are no-fault meaning that the insurance company will cover their own clients' injuries and damage. Other states have specific laws regarding who should be held at fault for a car accident.
Insurance is usually mandated in many states. Drivers are required to have insurance policies and registration to show that their insurance is valid. The insurance coverage that they own typically means that car accident suits may be brought against an insurance company rather than the drivers. In these cases, having a skinned lawyer to represent you against the insurance provider may be in your best interest.
Whether you're going up against insurance providers or an individual, there are several different payment schemes that your attorney may use. Here, we examine the most common.
The term contingency fee is familiar enough in all areas of legal practice. Merriam Webster defines the contingency fee as a fee paid to the lawyer once they've won the case on behalf of the client. The contingency fee is a core facet of any personal injury lawsuit, and car crashes fall under this broad umbrella term.
Insurance companies are the typical "other side" of these lawsuits. Insurance covers the accident but in many cases the insurance companies prefer to settle out of court. Out of court settlement favors insurance companies since they don't need to expend time in a protracted legal battle. In such a case, the matter may be settled early, at a lower cost to the insutance provider. There are exceptions to this situation, however.
Insurance companies are always looking at ways to reduce the amount they must pay out. If these insurance companies can find a way to ensure that they won't have to pay at all, they will take it. The result is usually the insurance company leaning on a decision by the court.
When an experienced car accident lawyer wins a case on behalf of the client against an insurance company or individual, they work out their due via a contingency fee agreement. The catch is that the client doesn't pay the contingency fee until the experienced car accident attorney closes the case, usually after getting some monetary settlement as a result.
The contingency fee is typically calculated as a percentage of the overall settlement. The Houston Chronicle informs us that the industry standard for contingency fees is around 30%. However, just because this is the average doesn't mean it remains the same throughout the US. It's not uncommon to encounter personal injury attorneys that have a somewhat low 20% contingency fee, while others get all the way up to 40%.
Typically, if you have a settlement happening before you go to court, the contingency fee may be much lower. The contract between you and your lawyer will define the contingency fee, and it may be up for negotiation before you sign on with them. The settlement may mention that the insurance may need to pay costs. These costs are related to any agreement you may have made regarding fees with your lawyer.
Depending on how lawyers draw up the contract, you may or may not be liable for fees and expenses if the matter goes to court. There are significant costs associated with obtaining vital information for a particular personal injury claim. Expenditures that the client may have to cover out of pocket include medical care for injuries, paying for medical records, expert witness fees, and police reports. The fees might seem small taken individually, but they can add up to a significant sum throughout the litigation. The contract that the experienced car accident lawyer draws up that covers the contingency fee should also include a clause dealing with information, medical bills and other extraneous expenses.
Based on how sure they are of settling the case, some lawyers may cover the expenses but include a clause that reimburses them when the case is closed. Typically, larger firms can do this given the volume of resources they command, but smaller firms may be limited by their cash availability. These smaller companies are less likely to cover these extraneous fees, requiring the client to cover them. As an additional caveat, lawyers will not proceed with the case until the requisite fees are paid.
If the firm offers to repay, you must ensure the clause mentions the net settlement. This term refers to the remainder after the expenses are already settled. While it's industry best-practice to consider the net settlement, some lawyers consider the gross settlement instead if they want to increase their payments. Be wary of these situations.
Insurance businesses may be your most common adversary in these situations. They have their own cadre of legal professionals, and if you lsoe the case you may be required to cover the insurance provider's legal fees as well.
Most of us know how hourly payment works since we get paid similarly. Most of us don't experience hourly billing with a lawyer. In an hourly arrangement, experienced car accident lawyers get paid for every hour of their time they dedicate to the case. Clients are expected to pay bills based on how occupied the lawyer was with the case. Typically, if a client hires a lawyer, but the client only needs them for a specific part of the case, they may come to an hourly arrangement. The truth is that hourly formats aren't commonplace with experienced car accident attorneys since the amount of work required makes this an untenable method of bills to clients.
With hourly costing, the attorney can create bills to the client for the number of hours (or part of an hour thereof) spent on the case. This arrangement remains in place regardless of if the case is won or lost. The cost of an hourly structure varies depending on which legal area the attorney operates in. The experience that a lawyer has can be leveraged in thier fee. More experience lawyers get paid more for sdealing with defendants. On average, lawyers may incur costs anywhere between $100 and $500 per hour spent working on a case in their bills.
Flat fee bills are a simple matter of setting out a single, one-time payment (or installment payment) that covers the entire case. These bills are also not commonplace in car accident claims because it puts the attorney at a significant disadvantage. If an experienced car accident lawyer agrees to flat fee bills, they don't get to renegotiate the price later. Some legal professionals have had this experience and opted against this type of agreement in the future. If the case takes up more time than the attorney initially estimated, they could get burned. Those billable hours would be lost tending to a client that has long since used up the value their attorney fees would have covered.
There may be a single experience where flat fee bills do come into play with a car accident attorney. If accident victims need a specific service done, like a demand letter sent from an attorney, for example, they can get an attorney to quote them a flat fee for doing up the letter. However, aside from a particular handful of cases where the result is a small, set amount of legal work, flat fees are usually not even considered by car accident attorneys. Litigation tends to be an unpredictable business, and it's not worth the gamble of setting up a flat fee payment for a case that may go way beyond its expected length.
This type of compensation is the most common one you'll find with accident victims. With this type of payment scheme, the client pays a set fee at the start of the case, and if the lawyer wins, they get a contingency fee as a percentage of the final settlement to the accident victims. You can think of a retainer as a lump-sum payment covering the case for some time, kind of like an advance. Retainers vary in car crash cases based on the complexity of the case and the extenuating factors. As bills, they may run accident victims a few hundred dollars on the low end while the upper end might be a few thousand.
At the end of the case, the lawyer takes the contingency fee percentage but removes the retainer fee's initial amount. Lawyers that have gone through the experience of battling insurance businesses know that this may be the best way to operate. The retainer is a relatively fair way of ensuring the lawyer puts the interest of the accident victims first. Unless they settle the case as a win, they don't stand to benefit at all. The retainer serves as a good incentive since that portion of their winnings is already guaranteed. Clients need to be aware of different payment methods to find one that suits their particular circumstances.
Some lawyers opt for unconventional arrangements with their clients. Lawyers that deal with personal injury claims against insurance companies may find their clients unable to pay the required fee structure. They still offer legal representation, but need to restructure their fees. Sometimes they may be unable to come up with a contingency fee basis or medical bills may be too much for them to deal with. In such a case, lawyers may look at alternative structures for bills.
After a car accident, medical bills become a major concern for an injured person. A personal injury settlement may help these individuals with their medical bills, but the concern of an auto accident attorney in this case is if they will get paid. Law firms have had the experience of having to cover their clients medical bills while waiting for the conclusion of a personal injury settlement. Unfortunately, these settlements take time and the final value may be less than the client expected.
An insurance adjuster may be part of the damage calculation and the back and forth between the company and the legal professional may drag on. Damages would eventually be calculated, taking into account the suffering of the injured person, but during that time they may need to figure out their payment schedule for their representative. The defendant in this case becomes more of a nuisance than a help to the victim.
There may be several factors weighing on crash victims during a car accident case. The defendant (which in most cases is an insurnace company) may make it difficult for settlement. If the settlement doesn't benefit the defendant, they are less likely to accept it. All the while the client has to deal with their personal medical expenses from the hospital.
The injuries that a victim may have can be dealt with by the hospital. In such a case, the legal professional may need to be aware of the injured person's injuries, since they may impact the outcome of the case. Ideally, a lawyer shouldn't bring a suit against a company unless the injured person has recovered sufficiently from their injuries to testify in court. Injuries may impact the outcome of the case in several ways. The injuries that a client sustains can affect their testimony or ability to think rationally. These injuries can, in essence, change how the court awards damages.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Firouzbakht Law Firm today to schedule your FREE consultation. Our experienced car accident team is ready and waiting to help you recover the compensation you deserve!