How Much Does a Car Accident Lawyer Cost?
Posted on: April 4, 2023
Car accidents are expensive, and many people worry about the costs of mounting medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, hiring an attorney is often your best option for obtaining compensation.
Some people worry about the expense of an attorney, however, working with a car accident lawyer may not be as expensive as you think.
What Percentage Do Car Accident Lawyers Get?
Personal injury lawyers work on contingency, meaning their payment will come out of any settlement they obtain for their clients. While the percentage of the contingency fee varies among firms, state law limits them to no more than one-third, or 33 percent, of the total settlement. This means if you are awarded a $100,000 settlement, your attorney would receive $33,000 to cover fees and expenses, and you would receive the remaining $67,000 in compensation.
Working on contingency also means if your attorney loses the case, they will not be paid.
Potential Costs and Expenses
Depending on your attorney’s policies, there may be expenses from your case that are not covered under the contingency fee structure. You may be responsible for upfront court fees and costs to obtain medical records and police reports, expert witness fees, court reporter fees, mailing and overnight delivery costs, mileage, and other expenses outlined in the contract.
Many firms require clients to pay for associated costs as they come due and will issue you invoices. If you are unable to pay, however, the attorney may not proceed with the case until payment has been received.
Other firms may cover all fees and expenses under the contingency fee contract, and costs will be deducted from your settlement or final judgment. For instance, if you are awarded $100,000 and your attorney’s fees and expenses total $10,000, those fees will be deducted first according to the terms of your contract. This means the attorney will receive a total of $40,000 from the settlement and you will obtain $60,000.
Read the contract carefully before signing to make certain the attorney’s fees are deducted from the “net settlement,” the amount left once fees and expenses are deducted. This is the most common arrangement in contingency fee contracts.
Contingency fee percentages vary depending on the circumstances of the case and whether you must file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. If you accept a settlement offer before going to court, the attorney’s percentage will likely be lower because there is less work involved. The percentage will likely be higher if the settlement occurs after a lawsuit is filed or the case proceeds to trial, as associated costs are higher. An experienced attorney can predict how the case might go and the costs involved when first reviewing your case and then determine the percentage fee charged. Not all cases involve contingency fee arrangements, though that is rare in car accident cases.
Contingency fees are negotiable. Cases with clear evidence of who is at-fault for the accident, obvious damages incurred, and claims that are easily proven require less work, providing you with room to negotiate the fee. You should always discuss the fee and cost of legal services with your attorney, especially if you do not understand the fee arrangement.
Is a Car Accident Lawyer Worth the Cost?
You are not required to hire an attorney, but not doing so could prevent you from obtaining compensation for your injuries, property damage, and lost income. Typically, the more severe the injuries, the more value of having representation.
Insurance companies want to make money. Costs mount quickly when there are serious injuries requiring significant medical treatment, and the insurance company may try to minimize your damages.
According to a recent Nolo/Lawyers.com survey, hiring an attorney to handle your car accident case has a significant impact on what you are awarded. The survey reports:
- Roughly 74 percent of respondents who hired an attorney received at least some amount of compensation, as opposed to only 54 percent of respondents who represented themselves.
- Respondents who hired an attorney received an average of $44,600 in compensation, whereas those who represented themselves received an average of only $13,900.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Advocate for Clients Injured by Negligent Drivers
People have various reasons for not hiring an attorney after a car accident, one of the most common is because they assume doing so will be too expensive. But not having legal representation is often more costly. Hiring an attorney is your best option to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries and damages. At Ellis Law, our New Jersey car accident lawyers always offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency basis – you will pay nothing until we win the compensation you deserve. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online today to schedule. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.