Car Accident Lawyer Fees

Car accident victims often worry about how they will find personal injury lawyers who are willing to work with them. In order to file the most effective car accident claim, you would need a personal injury lawyer.

However, people who have been involved in car accidents may not have the money to pursue a car accident case. Thankfully for you, the typical Chicago car accident lawyer will work for you 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 cost, read more to understand the system.

Fees for Car Accident Lawyers

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 on an hourly basis, 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 money to hire the lawyer.

If most car accident lawyers worked this way, accident victims would never be able to afford the lawyer that they need to move their case forward. Insurance companies would routinely have their way with car accident victims because they have their own lawyers in place.

The legal system uses the contingency fee as a way to make it easier for you to work with most car accident attorneys. The answer to the question of what car accident lawyers cost depends on whether you are successful.

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. It is only then that you would 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 would sign a representation agreement with them. This agreement is the contract that governs your attorney client relationship. It will contain the language that described the contingency fee basis.

The agreement will specify the contingency fee percentage. There are usually two different numbers in the representation agreement:

  • You would 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 exact percentage for their services. Usually, this amount is roughly 33%, give or take a few percentage points.
  • If your case goes to trial, you would pay your attorney a slightly higher percentage. Your lawyer is taking on more risk if you have a trial because there is extensive preparation 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 a fee arrangement, although these are very rare. Your attorney may accept a flat fee in your case, although 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. An experienced lawyer also has their own financial considerations to look after.

Contingency Fee Arrangements Are Governed by Legal Rules

The attorney fee that a car accident lawyer charges you cannot simply be any number. A car accident attorney must follow certain rules in order to remain an attorney and not be disciplined.

The American Bar Association publishes Rules of Professional Conduct. Each state puts out its own rules that are based on the model rules.

There is a section in these rules that deals with fees. It states the following:

“A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.”

The rule specifies several factors that are used in determining whether a fee is unreasonable, including the amount of effort required in relation to the fee. 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 really 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 quite a bit 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, if you do not win your case, the result is still the same. 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 other cases 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. Based on the way that an insurance company works, this is the exact opposite of reality.

The other driver’s insurance company does not want to pay you the full value of your car accident injuries. In order to obtain the best results in your case, you should have your lawyer talk to the insurance company. If you end up speaking 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 not successful. These costs would come out of a settlement or jury award if you won your case.

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 clearly be spelled out in advance. If it is not in the representation agreement, you cannot be charged for it. 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 ahead of time 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, make sure to ask about it because you are bound by the agreement once you sign it.

When Car Accident Lawyers Are Paid Their Contingency Fee

A personal injury attorney is paid their contingency fee before you receive your proceeds from the case. There may be a number of people who 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 the check into their escrow account until it clears. Then, all necessary fees will be paid, and your lawyer would deduct their own 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 on behalf of families seeking a financial recovery 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.