How Are Car Accident Lawyers Paid?
All personal injury lawyers, and this includes car accident attorneys, may charge clients hourly billing rates or on contingency basis, the latter being the predominant practice.
A contingency fee is the sum you pay a car accident attorney once your case is successful and you have received compensation for your injuries. No compensation means no payment of legal fees.
Contingency fees are typically based on a percentage of the total amount you get from a judgment or settlement. There are lawyers who will take a portion of your gross award, meaning, the full sum without deductions, while others will others will take a part of your net award, or the remaining sum after expenses are removed from your total award. Percentages differ from one region to another, and you may be able to haggle and get your car accident attorney to take a lower percentage rate. Any negotiations must close before you sign a contract.
If you receive money, you’ll also be responsible for refunding your attorney’s costs while working on your case (for example, copying fees, filing fees and the like). In most cases, lawyers working on contingency will not charge you for such expenses if they fail to settle or win your case.
What’s great about a contingency fee arrangement is that you don’t have to pay the attorney anything if your case loses or doesn’t settle. Considering that both you will gain financially from this case, they will likely be driven as well to get you the largest judgment or settlement possible. This is one of the reasons car accident lawyers will usually decline cases that are weak based on their evaluation. If they take a case that is weak and they agree to a contingency arrangement, they will not take the risk.
Sometimes, lawyers will offer to work on a car accident case for a per-hour fee. This means your attorney will be paid for every hour they work on your claim, no matter if you get compensated by the party responsible for your car accident. Whether you lose a case in court or failed to settle amicably with the other party or their insurance company, you pay your lawyer.
While contingency arrangements are more common for car accident cases, per-hour billing is not uncommon either. And generally, if a lawyer proposes per-hour charges, it’s probably because a case is weak. You might consider thinking twice about hiring a lawyer or just accepting the settlement deal that the other party is offering. Of course, at the end of the day, whether you pay hourly or on contingency, your first step is to find the right lawyer for you.