Many crash victims feel concerned about how much a lawyer costs for a car accident in the days and weeks following the collision. Most car accident lawyers work based on contingency fees. Their clients never need to pay by the hour, and there is no retainer. There are no upfront fees at all.
When working based on contingency, the lawyer receives a portion of the payout they recover for the client. How much depends on the amount listed in the contract. It is generally a percentage of the settlement or award. This percentage’s rate generally depends on a case’s demands.
Most law firms provide free consultations. During this initial conversation with a team member or car accident lawyer, you will learn about the strength of your case and your legal options. They will also explain their fees, and you have an opportunity to ask questions about their practice.
Understanding How Contingency Fees Work
When a lawyer says they work based on contingency, they do not charge their clients anything upfront. When you hire a contingency-fee firm, no bills show up in the mail from the lawyer’s office. Instead, they only get paid when you do. This ensures anyone has the financial ability to hire an attorney to handle their crash claim, regardless of their current expenses or financial situation.
Lawyers working based on contingency fees are especially important for those who suffered serious injuries. These claimants require treatment and are likely out of work because of their injuries, too. The medical bills come in, but the paychecks do not. This can quickly cause significant financial stress for many families.
Car accident attorneys understand this and do not ask claimants to pay any upfront fees before they get to work on the case.
Instead, they use the firm’s resources to pay for the expenses involved with:
- Investigating what happened
- Obtaining records and reports
- Preparing documents
- Filing legal actions
- Preparing a case for trial
In return, the attorney will receive a portion of the money obtained through a settlement or court award. Many crash victims like this arrangement for another reason, too. It ensures the lawyer and legal team fight for the largest financial recovery possible based on the case’s facts. With a contingency-fee agreement, the lawyer gets paid more when the victim receives more money for their damages.
How Do I Know How Much My Attorney Will Receive?
One of the downsides of a contingency-fee agreement is that you will not know exactly how much your lawyer will receive until they negotiate a settlement agreement in your case or you hear the jury’s verdict. However, you should know and understand the percentage of your total payout they receive.
The portion of your money that goes to your attorney should be clearly stated in your contract. Sometimes, this is a flat percentage regardless of the circumstances. Other situations call for other arrangements.
Generally, you can expect to pay your attorney about a third of the payout total. This could range from about 25 to 40 percent. If you have additional questions or concerns about how contingency-fee payments work, discuss them with a firm during your free consultation.
You can ask questions such as:
- Do you charge less if my case settles quickly?
- What if my case goes to trial?
- Are there other fees I need to pay?
- What happens if you do not recover compensation in my case?
- Are your contingency fees negotiable?
Most law firms want clients to understand these fee agreements before signing a contract. They should take the time to ensure you understand how they work and the percentage you will pay during your initial consultation. If not, consider working with another firm.
What Services Does a Car Accident Lawyer Provide for Their Fees?
Understanding the benefits of hiring a car accident lawyer requires knowing how the process works and the steps they must take to seek compensation in your case. Most car accident claims settle out of court. This means there is a negotiated settlement agreement with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier to pay a certain amount based on the victim’s expenses, losses, and injuries.
Recovering compensation is the principal aim of any car accident attorney. However, there are numerous steps they must take during this process. These measures include:
Evaluating Your Losses
Your lawyer will examine your situation to determine what losses you can pursue via a claim or lawsuit.
These damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost contracts, tips, bonuses, and other income streams
- Property damage expenses
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Wrongful death-related costs (such as funeral costs)
By evaluating your losses, your lawyer can explain what constitutes a fair settlement, then pursue that sum from the liable party.
Protecting Their Client’s Rights
Car accident attorneys protect their client’s rights from the first day. They manage all communications with the insurance carrier, offer advice and guidance, and ensure they meet all deadlines in the case. Lawyers navigate these cases daily. They know how they work and the best way to secure fair compensation. They will fight for the money you need and deserve.
Building Strong Support for Your Claim
A thorough investigation is a part of most car accident cases. Your lawyer will gather evidence to determine what happened, who is legally responsible, and how much you lost or suffered because of the crash. They know what evidence is necessary to convince the insurer or a jury who is liable. They also know how to find, preserve, and present this evidence.
Negotiating for a Fair Settlement
Car accident lawyers use proven negotiation techniques to settle claims for values that fairly compensate their clients. It is essential to know how to calculate initial demands and what to do if the insurer does not increase its offer. While accepting or rejecting an offer is ultimately up to you, your attorney will manage the negotiation process and provide the guidance you need to make the best decisions.
Handling Your Lawsuit if Necessary
Sometimes, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is necessary. This occurs when the insurance carrier will not make a fair offer, the deadline to sue is approaching, and for numerous other reasons. Many law firms file insurance claims and lawsuits concurrently.
Your attorney will know how this process works, the necessary paperwork, and what to expect at trial if that is necessary. Throughout this process, settlement negotiations typically continue, and these cases often still settle before setting a trial date.
Representing Your Best Interests
While your attorney’s primary goal is to recover fair compensation for you, their main job is representing your best interests and ensuring they pursue the maximum payout available based on the case’s facts. They know how to avoid pitfalls that could reduce the value of a claim, take steps to avoid insurance company tactics, and document as many recoverable damages as possible.
If your case goes to trial, this also extends to what happens in the courtroom. Your lawyer will represent your best interests to the judge and jury, presenting strong evidence and requesting fair compensation based on your expenses and losses.
How Does My Lawyer Get Paid?
For those whose only experience with a law firm included paying retainers and other upfront fees, contingency-fee firms can be confusing. They are anxious about the big bill that could show up in the mail after the case is over. The truth is that car accident lawyers almost never bill clients.
Instead, their attorney’s fees come:
- Directly from the check sent by the insurance company
- Directly from the money ordered as part of a court decision
Generally, clients only pay attorney’s fees when the lawyer secures a payout for them in the case. When a lawyer recovers a payout for their client, the check comes straight to their office.
They then take the necessary steps to process it, including:
- Placing the check in a special escrow account
- Calculating their percentage and taking it out of the settlement
- Sending the rest of the money to their client
In the past, most lawyers delivered or mailed a paper check to their clients for their settlement or court awards. Today, there are often other options available, such as a direct deposit. Your attorney will explain how and when you should expect your money and discuss how much you will receive after you sign the agreement.
How Much Could It Cost if You Don’t Hire an Attorney?
There are several ways that accident victims could mismanage their cases by forgoing legal help. Often, they end up hiring an attorney later, and the attorney must take steps to repair the damage done before they file a claim or lawsuit. Sometimes, you cannot step back and undo something.
Attorneys recommend calling them before you attempt to handle your own case because:
Insurance Companies Employ Tactics to Reduce Your Payout
Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are not always working to ensure crash victims receive fair compensation. Instead, their employers want them to pay as little as possible to settle each claim. This sometimes leads them to make lowball offers, say they cannot offer more money or will not negotiate, ask for a recorded statement, or take other steps to hurt your case and reduce the compensation you can recover.
Experienced attorneys understand these tactics and handle all communications with the insurer so you can avoid them.
Victims Rarely Estimate Their Case Value Correctly
Calculating a fair settlement value for a crash case is difficult, especially when you are the victim facing significant expenses and losses yourself. Victims often overlook recoverable damages, fail to accurately estimate future care costs, or do not know how to put a monetary value on pain and suffering damages. This leaves them seeking and settling for less than they need and deserve based on the facts.
Navigating the Claims Process Is More Difficult Than Many Anticipate
Often, victims enter the claims process and then realize they are not sure what to do next or how to navigate the following steps. This is where an attorney will step in and help. There is no reason to waste your own time and money trying to figure out this process. Let the law firm use its resources to gather evidence, pay for documents, and otherwise protect your interests. The law firm has the time and money to handle this, and it could cost you less than managing a case on your own.
Victims Need to Focus on Healing
Many traffic accident victims do not realize how time-consuming and stressful handling their insurance claims is going to be. It seems like an easy process on the surface, but it turns out to be impossible while they are also managing treatment, therapy, rehabilitation, and more.
If you suffered serious injuries in a crash, you need to focus on healing. Letting an attorney handle your claim costs less than the complications you could suffer or the physical and mental toll it could take on your health.
Discuss Your Car Accident Case and Legal Fees With a Law Firm for Free
Car accident lawyers generally offer free consultations for victims. This gives you an opportunity to discuss the cost of hiring a lawyer and the possible fees you might owe after the case concludes. Most firms are willing to answer questions and know how to explain their fee structures in a way that will make sense to you.
If you were in a car accident but don’t know if you can afford to hire a personal injury attorney in Atlanta, do not hesitate to contact an attorney to discuss it. Most firms do not ask injured crash victims to pay any upfront fees, and the attorney does not charge fees unless they win the case for them.