Lawyers charge differently for accident claims, which means there is no ballpark figure for how much you will pay them. Since accidents are mostly personal injury cases, the majority of attorneys agree to a contingency fee.
In this arrangement, a lawyer’s fee depends on a percentage of the amount awarded to their clients. A third of the settlement often goes to your lawyer; however, this portion is not set in stone. Some jurisdictions and attorneys may propose to adjust the rate according to the case’s progression. For instance, your attorney may agree to a 20 percent share if your injury case settles. But if it goes to trial, their percentage can go higher because of the additional legal work required.
Other Possible Fee Arrangements
Apart from a contingency fee, some lawyers may agree to the following arrangements:
A fixed or flat fee is the amount charged for routine legal work or simple cases involving established practices and standardized forms. Will preparations, foreclosures, and uncontested divorces are a few examples where fixed fees may be applied. If you only want legal assistance in filing an insurance claim, your lawyer may agree to this arrangement.
Some lawyers charge by the hour, and they keep track of their time by increments. Moreover, they have different rates for legal work—the more complicated it is, the higher the hourly rate.
Retainer fees are similar to a deposit and often not a separate arrangement from hourly rates. You have to pay it upfront, serving as prepayment for future legal services. For every part of the work done, the costs of services get deducted from the trust account. Once it runs out, you have to work out a separate fee arrangement with your lawyer.
Some clients shy away from attorneys who charge a retainer fee, thinking of possible overcharging. Remember that retainer fees are non-refundable. If a case settles early, you may have spent more on minimal or no work done. When this happens, some lawyers may forgo or allow a bit of a refund.
Overview of a Contingency Fee
“In contrast to a fixed hourly fee, in a contingent fee arrangement, lawyers receive a percentage of the monetary amount his/her client receives when they win or settle their case,” as per the Legal Information Institute (LII). This arrangement is most common in cases that involve substantial compensation or recovery, such as personal injury and medical malpractice. Should you receive a payout, your attorney will have a share in the amount awarded, based on the agreed percentage.
One upside to a contingent fee is its cost-effectiveness. Hiring a lawyer can be costly, so most people try to find the least expensive option with the most favorable outcome. As a client, you do not have to pay lawyer fees upfront and worry about your case’s lack of work or updates. Most personal injury claims require considerable work, such as gathering evidence, investigating circumstances, and researching. If you pay your lawyer by the hour, you may end up losing more money in the long run.
Discussing Fee Agreements
It would be best if you discussed contingent fee arrangements beforehand. Doing so avoids misunderstandings that will impact the attorney-client relationship. Every accident claim is different—there is always uncertainty about how much an injury victim can recover. For those that involve more extensive work, a lawyer may want justified compensation for their efforts.
Among the highly contested terms in a contingency fee agreement is when to charge the attorney’s fee—should it be before or after expenses? Most lawyers prefer their share to be before the deduction of litigation costs. If you recover $12,000 in damages, your lawyer will receive $4,000 in fees, a third of total compensation. But if the agreement states otherwise, they will end up with a lower portion.
You should also agree on the fee percentage. While a one-third fee is usual, it can be higher or lower—some courts impose a cap on contingent fees. If the case goes to trial, your lawyer may ask for a higher share of awarded damages. Ensure that you iron out the details of your fee arrangement before they can represent you.
If you decide to switch lawyers, you still have to pay your original lawyer. They rendered work on your accident claim, so it is only fair that they also receive compensation. Your successor and former counsels should discuss how to split the contingency fee.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Assist You
While it is normal to want to know how much lawyers charge for accident claims, you do not have to worry about this when dealing with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. They accept cases on contingent fee arrangements, which means they will work hard to help you get the maximum compensation for your claim. To find out more, get in touch at (800) 223-5115 for a free initial consultation.