What Are the Costs of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?
All personal injury lawyers, and this includes car accident attorneys, may charge clients hourly billing rates or on contingency basis, the latter being the predominant practice.
A contingency fee is what you pay a car accident lawyer when your case is successful and you receive compensation from the defendant. Unless the lawyer wins or settles your case, then you pay no legal fees.
Contingency fees are often calculated as a percentage of the whole amount you receive after settlement or judgment. In some cases, lawyers will take a portion of the gross award (before expenses are removed), while in others, they will take a part of the net award (after expenses are removed). Percentages are different from region to region, and you might be able to work out a lower percentage rate with your car accident lawyer. Any negotiations must close before you sign a contract.
Should you win money, you are also required to reimburse your lawyer for any expenses involved in your case, such as filing fees, expert witness fees, etc. When attorneys work on contingency, they will usually waive expenses if they were unable to win or settle the case.
The advantage of a contingency arrangement is that your lawyer will not charge you anything if your case doesn’t play out well. As you both will benefit financially, you can be sure that they will also be motivated to get you the best possible judgment or settlement. This is one of the reasons car accident lawyers will usually decline cases that are weak based on their evaluation. Accepting a weak case and getting paid on contingency arrangement means risking losses on their part.
Sometimes, lawyers will offer to work on a car accident case for a per-hour fee. This means your attorney will be paid for every hour they work on your claim, no matter if you get compensated by the party responsible for your car accident. Win or lose, settlement or no settlement, the lawyer gets paid.
Although contingency arrangements are more commonly practiced by car accident attorneys, hourly billing is not that rare either. And generally, if a lawyer proposes per-hour charges, it’s probably because a case is weak. You might want to think twice about hiring an attorney for your car accident claim, or if you should just be happy with the insurance company’s settlement proposal. Of course, in the end, whether you will be charged per hour or based on a contingency basis, you have to ensure that you’ve chosen the right lawyer in the first place.