Car accident victims often worry about how they will find personal injury lawyers who are willing to work with them. You need a personal injury lawyer to file the most effective car accident claim.
However, people involved in car accidents may not have the money to pursue a car accident case.
Thankfully, the typical Chicago car accident lawyer will work on a contingency fee arrangement.
They are not paid unless you receive a financial recovery in your case. If you are wondering about car accident lawyer costs, read more to understand the system.
The Reason for Contingency Fee Arrangements
Car accident victims do not usually have much cash on hand after their accident to talk to a lawyer. Most lawyers charge hourly, asking their clients to pay them a retainer upfront for their services.
Then, they send bills while a case is pending, all the way through the end of the case.
Some lawyers may charge flat fees for legal representation that still require the client to come up with the money to hire the lawyer.
If most car accident lawyers worked this way, accident victims would never be able to afford the lawyer they need to move their case forward.
Insurance companies would routinely have their way with car accident victims because they have their lawyers in place.
The legal system uses the contingency fee to make it easier for you to work with most car accident attorneys.
The answer to what car accident lawyers cost depends on your success.
How a Contingency Fee Works
The dictionary defines the word contingency as the following:
“something liable to happen as an adjunct to or result of something else”
In a personal injury case, that “something else” is you winning your case. You may settle your case as part of an insurance claim, or you may take your case to a jury and win.
In either of those two events, you would get money for your accident injuries. Only then would you have a legal obligation to pay your lawyer.
To be clear, a lawyer is paid for legal representation under a contingency fee agreement.
If lawyers were in the business of giving away their services, they would not remain in business for long.
The Contingency Fee Percentage
When you hire a lawyer, you will sign a representation agreement with them. This agreement is the contract that governs your attorney-client relationship.
It will contain the language that describes the contingency fee basis.
The agreement will specify the contingency fee percentage.
There are usually two different numbers in the representation agreement:
- You will pay your lawyer a lower percentage if your case settles without a trial. It does not matter if your case took months or years to settle. Your lawyer would get the same percentage for their services. Usually, this amount is roughly 33%, give or take a few percentage points.
- If your case goes to trial, you will pay your attorney a slightly higher percentage. Your lawyer is taking on more risk if you have a trial because extensive preparation is necessary to present evidence and prepare you for trial.
Most Car Accident Cases Use Contingency Fee Agreements
Most personal injury lawyers will charge a contingency fee in your car accident case. It is the way that practically all accident lawyers are paid.
There are other methods of fee arrangement, although these are very rare. Your attorney may accept a flat fee in your case.
However, they may have a financial interest in the contingency fee because it could mean more money for them, making them less likely to be interested in a flat fee arrangement.
You may also agree to pay your attorney on an hourly basis. Again, they may not want this arrangement because they could make less money. Experienced lawyers also have their financial considerations to look after.
Legal Rules Govern Contingency Fee Arrangements
The attorney fee that a car accident lawyer charges you cannot simply be any number. A car accident attorney must follow certain rules to remain an attorney and not be disciplined.
The American Bar Association publishes Rules of Professional Conduct. Each state puts out its own rules based on the model rules.
There is a section in these rules that deals with fees. It states the following:
“A lawyer shall not agree, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or amount for expenses.”
The rule specifies several factors in determining whether a fee is unreasonable, including the effort required. Nonetheless, settling a case is considered to be enough for a car accident lawyer to earn a contingency fee.
Compare Car Accident Lawyer Fees
You should always ask about the fee and review the section in the representation agreement about costs before you sign the agreement.
While you should not necessarily shop around for the lowest fee percentage (sometimes, you do get what you pay for), you should be aware when a contingency fee agreement has a higher percentage than many lawyers charge for a car accident case.
Personal Injury Lawyers Take on Risk in Your Case
Personal injury attorneys have a lot on the line in car accident cases. Car accident attorneys will not be paid unless you are.
Your lawyer may have put weeks or months into your case. Your personal injury lawsuit may even go to trial. However, the result is still the same if you do not win your case.
Your attorney would not be paid anything for their time. They would have spent time on an unsuccessful case when they could have taken on others that may have paid them.
Car Accident Lawyers Add Value to Your Case
Some car accident victims wonder why they should pay contingency fees to an attorney.
They may think that they can do every bit as well on their own. This is the opposite of reality based on how an insurance company works.
The other driver’s insurance company does not want to pay you the total value of your car accident injuries.
To obtain the best results in your case, you should have your lawyer talk to the insurance company. If you speak to them, it would likely cost you money.
What an Accident Lawyer Does in Your Case
Besides speaking with the other driver’s insurance company, a car accident attorney may do the following in your case:
- Obtain police reports and review them
- Obtaining medical records and understanding your exact condition
- Investigate your car accident and gather evidence about how the accident happened
- Review your specific situation and come up with a damages estimate
- Take your matter to court unless your case settles
How Litigation Costs Are Covered
Litigation expenses may be handled differently than attorney fees.
Even though the lawyer is not paid if you do not win, some law firms expect clients to pay other litigation costs if the case is unsuccessful.
If you won your case, these costs would come from a settlement or jury award.
These expenses may include:
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
- Court filing fees
- Administrative fees
- Costs of ordering reports
A car accident attorney must specify who pays what fees in the representation agreement. If the attorney expects you to pay for anything, it must be spelled out in advance.
You cannot be charged for it if it is not in the representation agreement. If you win your case, litigation costs may come off the top and be reflected in your net settlement.
Again, you should review the representation agreement beforehand to learn the fees for which you may be responsible.
Not every lawyer handles litigation costs the same way.
If you do not understand something, ask about it because the agreement binds you once you sign it.
When Car Accident Lawyers Are Paid Their Contingency Fee
A personal injury attorney is paid their contingency fee before receiving your case proceeds. Several people may need to be paid from your settlement check or jury award.
In addition to your attorney, your health insurance company and treating doctors must be paid because they may have a lien on your settlement.
Once the insurance company cuts the settlement check, your personal injury lawyer will deposit it into their escrow account until it clears.
Then, all necessary fees will be paid, and your lawyer will deduct their contingency fee from the check. Then, you would receive the money from the lawyer’s escrow account.
Call Us for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, you will need an experienced and aggressive personal injury attorney working for you.
Our law firm handles personal injury cases for families seeking a financial settlement for a car accident injury that was someone else’s fault.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers handles car accident claims and other personal injury cases. We are only paid if you win your case.