Compensation for Car Accident Lawyers
All personal injury attorneys, and this covers car accident lawyers, may charge clients either a per-hour rate or a contingency fee, the latter being the more common practice.
A contingency fee is what you pay a car accident lawyer when your case is successful and you receive compensation from the defendant. Unless the lawyer wins or settles your case, then you pay no legal fees.
Contingency fees are often determined as a percentage of the total sum you will receive after a settlement or court verdict. Some attorneys will claim a percentage of the gross award, or the amount before costs are deducted, while others will claim a percentage of the net award, or the amount after expenses are deducted. Percentages are not the same for all regions, and you may be able to negotiate for a smaller percentage rate with your car accident attorney. Whatever negotiations take place must close before you sign an agreement.
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). Typically, attorneys paid on contingency will not have you pay these expenses if your case turns out unsuccessful.
The advantage of a contingency arrangement is that your lawyer will not charge you anything if your case doesn’t play out well. Because the two of you will gain financially, they will most probably be as motivated as you to secure the biggest possible settlement or judgment. This is one of the reasons car accident lawyers will usually decline cases that are weak based on their evaluation. Accepting a weak case and getting paid on contingency arrangement means risking losses on their part.
In some cases, attorneys will take a car accident case and get paid hourly. This means you will have to pay the lawyer for every hour they’ve spent on your case, no matter the outcome. Win or lose, settlement or no settlement, the lawyer gets paid.
It’s true that contingency arrangements are the more common practice when it comes to car accident cases, but per-hour billing is hardly uncommon. 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.