The amount a lawyer charges for a car accident case depends on many factors. However, most car accident lawyers accept car accident cases on a contingency fee basis. Therefore, hiring an accident attorney would typically not cost you anything up front; the fees are based on how much money the lawyer recovers for your personal injury claim.
What is a Contingency Fee in a Car Accident Case?
Many lawyers charge hourly rates or flat rates for their legal services. However, most personal injury lawyers provide legal services on a contingency fee basis. Therefore, instead of charging for their services by the hour, the attorney agrees that their fees will be based on a percentage of the final settlement amount. Despite this, not all car accident lawyers will charge the same percentage. For example, an attorney in Bakersfield, CA will not charge the same contingency fee percentages as a car accident attorney in Las Vegas, NV.
There are positive aspects of using a contingency fee for car accident cases. First, an accident victim who has been out of work because of their injuries does not need to worry about paying thousands of dollars in retainer fees to hire a law firm.
Second, the attorney is taking a risk with the client. The lawyer does not get paid any money for legal fees if the lawyer does not win the case.
Therefore, the lawyer must believe there is a good chance of winning the case to take the risk. Furthermore, the lawyer has a strong incentive to aggressively pursue the car accident claim to recover as much money as possible. The more money the attorney recovers for the client, the higher the attorney’s fee.
What Factors Determine How Much a Lawyer Charges for a Car Accident Case?
Just like hourly fees, attorneys may charge different percentages for contingency fees. Factors that impact how much a lawyer charges for a car accident case include:
- The complexity of the car accident case
- The experience and track record of the attorney
- The contingency fees charged by other lawyers in the area
- The location and jurisdiction of the car accident case
- The parties involved in the case
- The time the lawyer expects to spend working on the case
The average contingency fee for a car accident case is 33% of the final recovery amount if the case settles without going to trial. However, a lawyer may charge more if they have substantial experience or the case involves specific and unique factors that require specialized knowledge and experience. Contingency fees may also increase if the lawyer must file a car accident lawsuit and go to trial.
The retainer agreement and contingency fee agreement should contain all details of the attorney-client relationship and the services included in the contingency fee. It should also state the contingency fee percentage at various stages of the case. If you are unsure about any aspect of the retainer agreement, do not sign the agreement until you receive a clear explanation from the lawyer.
Who Pays for the Costs for a Car Accident Case?
Pursuing a car accident claim can involve various costs. The costs of a case could include:
- Fees for obtaining copies of police reports and car accident reports
- Travel expenses and mileage
- Medical records fees
- Deposition costs
- Expert witness fees
- Court filing fees
- Trial preparation costs
Ordinarily, the law firm pays the costs as they incur them. Then, when the case settles, the lawyer deducts the expenses from the settlement proceeds with the contingency fee.
However, what happens if the lawyer does not win the case? You do not owe any attorneys’ fees if the lawyer agreed to a contingency fee, but what about the costs? Are you expected to reimburse the law firm for costs?
Before hiring a car accident lawyer, ask about the case’s costs. Ensure that the retainer and contingency agreement specifies who is responsible for paying the costs if the lawyer does not recover money for your claim.
Choosing the Best Car Accident Lawyer for Your Case
Some lawyers may charge lower contingency fees than other lawyers. However, those attorneys might not have the experience, resources, and track record of attorneys charging higher rates. Therefore, you need to consider the car accident lawyer’s qualifications when hiring an attorney.
Choosing an inexperienced lawyer who charges a lower fee for a car accident case could result in a much lower settlement amount. Instead of saving money, you lose money. Meet with each attorney to assess which lawyer would represent your best interest instead of basing your decision only on how much the lawyer charges for a car accident case.