News & opinion Car Accident Lawyer Fees

Car Accident Lawyer Fees

Car Accident Attorney Fees Handshake Deal
fte c

ccident,

e kno

you’

e st

essed out. Bills

e piling up quickly,

ith no

elief in sight. You

nt help getting compens

tion fo

you

medic

l bills

nd lost ges, but you don’t nt to stin you

fin

nces

ny fu

the

to p

y fo lye

.

The

e’s good ne

s: c

ccident lye

s unde

st

nd you

situ

tion

nd nt to help. This is

hy these l

ye

s use specific fee ngements th

t

llo

you to get leg

l help

ithout p

ying

nything upf

ont out-of-pocket.

hile l

ye

s in m

ny p

ctice

e

s chge by the hou

, pe

son

l inju

y lye

s gene

lly ch

ge

ccident victims in

diffe

ent y. They use something c

lled

<

h

ef="https:

/

.l.co

nell.edu/

ex

contingent_fee”>contingency fee. > In sho

t, this me

ns

l

ye

’s p

yment is contingent on them successfully

inning you

c

se,

hich me

ns obt

ining

settlement o

d fo

you

losses. If you

lye

f

ils to get

settlement o

judgment fo

you, you don’t p

y them

cent. Thei

livelihood depends on you

s, giving them

ll the mo

e motiv

tion to fight fo

you.

Does this sound too good to be t

ue? It’s not. The leg

l field unde

st

nds th

t eve

y inju

y victim dese

ves

dequ

te leg

l

ep

esent

tion, but m

ny people c

nnot

ffo

d hefty

et

ine

s o

hou

ly fees. This is

hy the contingency

ngement exists.

e

d on fo

mo

e info

m

tion

bout c

ccident l

ye

fees.

e the Fees

o

th It to Hi

e

C

ccident L

ye

?<

b>

Fi

st off,

hen you he

bout the pe

cent

ges

l

ye

ill t

ke

s thei

fees, you m

y think it’s not

o

th the cost to hi

e someone to

ep

esent you. Ho

eve

, in m

ny c

ccident c

ses, it’s

lmost

l

ys

o

th it to seek leg

l help. This is bec

use

lye

c

n often secu

e

much <

i>highe

settlement o

d th

n

c

ccident victim c

n on thei

o

n. Pe

son

l inju

y lye

s h

ve expe

ience

ith insunce cl

ims fo

hund

eds o

thous

nds of c

ccidents -

hile you, hopefully, do not!

Still on the fence? Conside

the follo

ing scen

io.

You decide th

t you don’t nt to p

y fo

l

ye

bec

use you

nt to keep you

enti

e settlement. You

losses—

s you c

lcul

ted them—

e

bout $15,000 b

sed on you

medic

l bills

nd the t

o

eeks you missed

o

k. The insunce comp

ny ch

llenges ce

t

in losses o

cl

ims you

e

e pti

lly

esponsible fo

the c

sh,

hich c

uses them to

educe you

settlement offe

to $10,000. You negoti

te

ith them

nd fin

lly

g

ee to

ccept $12,000. This le

ves you

esponsible fo

p

ying $3,000 of losses out-of-pocket.

On the othe

h

nd, im

gine this: you decided to spe

k

ith

n expe

ienced c

ccident l

ye

ight

fte

the c

sh,

nd you

g

ee to

contingency fee. The l

ye

cefully

evie

s you

situ

tion

nd dete

mines th

t in

ddition to the $15,000 in medic

l costs

nd lost ges, you

lso dese

ve p

yment fo

futu

e medic

l expenses,

ncill

y expenses,

nd p

in

nd suffe

ing. The l

ye

estim

tes you

losses

t $28,000, but is likely s

vvy enough to stt negoti

tions even highe

.

hen the insu

nce comp

ny m

kes

lo

b

ll offe

, you

lye

kno

s ho

to comb

t it,

nd ends up getting

settlement fo

the full $28,000. The costs of the cl

im

e

e $1,000,

hich the l

ye

deducts. Then, the lye

t

kes the st

nd

d 33.33% sh

e of you

$27,000 net settlement,

hich is $9,000. This le

ves you

ith $18,000. Inste

d of h

ving to p

y $3,000 out-of-pocket fo

you

losses, you no

h

ve $3,000 MO

E TH

N

h

t you initi

lly expected.

ddition

lly, most

tto

neys

e

illing

nd

ble to help negoti

te

eductions on outst

nding medic

l bills o

he

lth insunce sub

og

tions, le

ving you

ith even mo

e “net” money in you

pocket. The

bove is only one ex

mple of

hy it is

o

th it to p

y fo c

ccident

tto

ney. The highe

the v

lue of you

c

se, the mo

e c

itic

l—

nd

o

th

hile—it usu

lly becomes to hi

e

st

ong

tto

ney. This is especi

lly t

ue if you

c

se

ill likely go to t

i

l.

If the insu

nce comp

ny gives you

ny t

ouble, you don’t h

ve to fight them

lone. Don’t hesit

te to c

ll

c

ccident

tto

ney

ight

y to len

bout

ll of the options

v

il

ble to you on the

o

d to justice.

Ho

the Contingency Fee

o

ks<

b>

s mentioned

bove,

contingency fee me

ns th

t you only p

y once you

eceive you

settlement o

ju

y

d. But ho

much

ill you p

y then? It’s not

o

th it to hi

e

n

tto

ney to get you

settlement if the enti

e thing

ill go

ight b

ck to the

tto

ney! The good ne

s is th

t this

on’t h

ppen,

s contingency fees

ill only be

p

eviously set pe

cent

ge of you

settlement. E

ch st

te h

s its o

n specific

ules

egding possible pe

cent

ges fo

contingency fees. Gene

lly spe

king, they nge f

om

bout 30 to 45 pe

cent,

ith the st

nd

d being

ight ound one-thi

d, o

33% fo

c

ses th

t settle

ithout the necessity of

l

suit being filed. 

e f

equently find fees fo

p

emises li

bility cl

ims to be highe

, bec

use these c

ses e genelly hde

to

in

nd t

ke signific

ntly mo

e effo

t on the p

t of the

tto

ney

nd thei

st

ff. Some contingency fee

g

eements

ill h

ve diffe

ent pe

cent

ges b

sed on ho

you

c

se gets

esolved

nd the

mount of

o

k the c

se

equi

es. Fo

ex

mple,

n

g

eement could include the follo

ing:

  • 33% if the c
    se settled du

    ing the initi

    l p

    ocess but befo

    e

    l

    suit is filed

  • 40% if you
    nd the

    tto

    ney

    g

    ee th

    t it is necess

    y to file

    lsuit<

    li>

  • 45% in the event of
    n

    ppe

    l o

    second t

    i

    l

No m

tteh

t

ngement

c

ccident l

ye

p

oposes, you should

lys ensu

e th

t you completely unde

st

nd it befo

e you sign

n

g

eement. This p

yment system c

n confuse people, so clify

ny confusion o

sk

ny questions you m

y h

ve

bout the p

yment contct

S

P. The c

ccident

tto

ney

ill be h

ppy to fully

dd

ess you

questions o

conce

ns.

Ho

Does the L

ye

Chge fo

Expenses?

s pt of the contingency fee

g

eement, you should knoho is

esponsible fo

cove

ing v

ious litig

tion expenses. Such expenses c

n include:

  • Investig
    to

    s

    nd expe

    ts

  • Cou
    t filing fees<

    li>

  • Costs of se
    vice

    nd subpoen

    s<

    li>

  • Fees to obt
    in police

    epo

    ts o

    medic

    l

    eco

    ds<

    li>

  • Fees of cou
    t

    epo

    te

    s

You should c

efully

evie

the

g

eement to dete

mine

hethe

you’ll be

esponsible fo

eimbu

sing you

l

ye

fo

these fees

nd expenses if you p

ev

il in you

c

se. Some c

ccident l

fi

ms expect the client to cove

such costs

s they ise,

nd if you c

nnot m

ke the

equi

ed p

yments

hen they

e due, you

c

se m

y st

ll in the me

ntime. On the othe

h

nd, m

ny fi

ms h

ve the

esou

ces to cove

these costs up f

ont fo

<

i>you.

hen you

eceive

settlement o

d, you

lyeill deduct those fees f

om the settlement

long

ith the

g

eed-upon pe

cent

ge f

om the g

oss

mount of the settlement.

Othe

Possible Fee

ngements

hile

contingency fee

ngement is the most common in c

ccident c

ses, some

tto

neys m

y use

diffe

ent type of fee ngement. Some ngements m

y involve p

ying

n up-f

ont

et

ine

s

ell

s<

i>

contingency fee. In these c

ses, you

et

ine

should be subt

cted f

om the

g

eed-upon pe

cent

ge you o

e the l

ye

once you

c

se is ove

. If you p

id

$2,000

et

ine

nd the l

ye

’s pe

cent

ge comes to $100,000, they should only t

ke $98,000 f

om you

settlement.

It’s

e fo c

ccident

tto

ney to ch

ge

fl

t fee fo

n inju

y cl

im,

s they might fo c

imin

l c

se. Ho

eve

, if

ll you nt

l

ye

to do is dft

dem

nd lette

fo

you (o simil one-time t

sk), they m

y

g

ee on

fl

t fee fo

th

t se

vice. This is something you’ll need to discuss

ith e

ch individu

l

tto

ney.

Selecting the

ight C

ccident L Fi

m fo

You<

b>

Fee

ngements should definitely be

f

cto

hen you

e deciding

hich c

ccident l

ye

to hi

e.

Don’t be

fid to

sk the follo

ing questions

s you ev

lu

te e

ch

tto

ney b

sed on the

y they

nt to ch

ge fo

thei

se

vices:
  • h

    t pe

    cent

    ge of you

    settlement

    e they

    sking fo

    ?

  • ill they

    equi

    e you to p

    y expenses

    s you go, oill they cove

    those costs

    nd deduct them l

    te

    ?<

    li>

  • Did the l

    fi

    m give you e

    listic

    nge of outcomes to expect?

  • Ho
    much do they estim

    te they

    ill spend in costs

    nd expenses? Does the numbe

    seem

    e

    listic b

    sed on the complexity of you

    c

    se?

  • Does the l

    fi

    m seem like they e being

    e

    listic

    nd f

    i

    , o

    e they just t

    ying to “sell” you?

Cost should not be the one

nd only f

cto

in choosing the

ight

tto

ney. “Budget” l

ye

s

ho ch

ge ve

y little m

y not h

ve the expe

ience,

esou

ces, o

confidence to h

ndle high-doll

cl

ims

nd dem

nd st

nd

d pe

cent

ges. Ho

eve

, cost c

n be pt of you

decision, especi

lly if diffe

ent c

ccident l fi

ms

e ch

ging in diffe

ent ys.

Ethic

l Conside

tions

egding Contingent Fees<

b>

C

ccident lye

s c

nnot simply chge

h

teve

they

ish fo

thei

se

vices. L

ye

s h

ve to comply

ith m

ny ethic

l

ules,

nd the

e

e <

h

ef=”https://

.

me

ic

nb

.o

g

g

oups

p

ofession

l_

esponsibility

public

tions

model_

ules_of_p

ofession

l_conductule_1_5_fees

“>

ules

eg

ding fees

nd p

yment >. Some of these

ules

dd

ess the follo

ing:
  • ll contingent fee

    g

    eements should be in

    iting.

  • Fees
    nd expenses must be

    e

    son

    ble unde

    the ci

    cumst

    nces of the specific c

    se. Fo

    ex

    mple, ch

    ging

    50% contingent fee fo

    el

    tively simple c

    ccident insu

    nce cl

    im, o

    ch

    ging $10 pe

    in-house copy is not

    e

    son

    ble.

  • L

    ye

    s should p

    omptly est

    blish the b

    sis

    nd te of

    ny leg

    l fees.<

    li>

  • Fees must be in line
    ith

    ny

    pplic

    ble st

    te ls.<

    li>

  • Fee
    g

    eements should neve

    c

    use

    lye

    to cu

    t

    il se

    vices oct

    g

    inst

    client’s best inte

    ests.<

    li>

  • If t
    o l fi

    ms

    e splitting

    fee, the client should only be billed once.<

    li>

  • Disputes ove
    fees should be h

    ndled in

    cco

    d

    nce

    ith

    ny m

    nd

    to

    y o

    ecommended dispute

    esolution p

    ocedu

    es in the st

    te, such

    s medi

    tion o

    bittion.<

    li>

Ove

ll,

contingent fee

ligns

c

ccident l

ye

’s inte

ests

ith you

o

n, since they

ill not get p

id

single cent unless you successfully

ecove

fo

you

losses.

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