One of the main concerns about hiring an attorney when you’ve been injured in a car accident is the cost. This is something you need to discuss with your attorney when you’re hiring them, but here are some general guidelines.
Most Personal Injury Lawyers Don’t Collect Unless You Do
Because of the financial uncertainty that most auto accident victims are in, most personal injury lawyers will agree to work on a contingency basis. This is another way of saying that they’ll take a percentage of what you collect. If you lose your case, they will collect nothing. They only collect if you win.
The Percentage Can Vary Due to Complexity
About thirty percent is a standard, but not all cases are created equally. Some lawyers will accept a different percentage based on the complexity of the case. Sometimes a case is actually very straightforward. Fault is easily determined, damages are minimal, and the insurance company quickly comes to a reasonable settlement. In cases like these, the law office may reduce the percentage that they take.
In other cases, unfortunately, the situation may not be as easy to work through. The defendant’s insurance company may assert that you were also negligent, or the damages and future disability may be harder to assess. These situations require more time to work through. Especially if the matter goes to trial, the percentage that the attorney takes may go up to forty percent. Different states have different laws and norms about the amount that lawyers charge, so these numbers may vary.
Expenses May Also Affect Your Settlement
In addition to the amount collected by the legal firm, expenses may also affect your settlement amount. Hiring an expert to testify about your future disability, for example, can cost a substantial amount. Note that these expenses reduce your net settlement, but they should also reduce the amount collected on a percentage basis.
For example, if you received a $100,000 settlement with a thirty percent contingency fee, but had $10,000 in expenses, you would pay thirty percent of $90,000, not $100,000. This is because the attorney is working for thirty percent of your net settlement, not the gross amount.
The math on these fees can be complex. But it’s important to remember that the alternative is often to take far less than you deserve because the insurance company offers you a low amount. Even with the percentage that the law office earns, you are better off to be professionally represented.