Car Accident Lawyer Fees

Tamara Armstrong

Contributor

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Editor

Read in 5 mins

You could be entitled to compensation when another is responsible for your injuries and financial damages in a car accident. A skilled car accident lawyer can give you the best chance to recover damages, such as medical bills, wage losses, pain and suffering, and more. However, quality legal representation isn’t free.

Here’s an overview of car accident lawyer fees and what you need to know when weighing whether hiring an attorney is worth it. Ready to speak to an attorney? Just fill out the form on this page to get the process started today.

Contingency Fees

The question “how much does a car accident lawyer cost?” doesn’t have a single answer. Most car accident lawyers fees are based on the contingency fee model, meaning they depend on the successful outcome of your case. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), a contingency fee is only payable if the lawyer wins.

When dealing with mounting medical bills, lost wages and other expenses, the last thing you want to worry about is auto accident attorney fees. With the contingency model, you don’t have to pay anything out of your pocket, allowing you to heal without added financial stress.

The major advantage of contingency fees is that you don’t have to pay your lawyer a dime in fees if you lose your case. However, if you win, your lawyer receives a significant percentage of your car accident settlement or award, which could amount to one-third or more.

What About Legal Expenses?

If you wonder how much lawyers charge for accident claims, remember that there are legal expenses on top of attorney’s fees. Filing a lawsuit comes with various expenses that you may have to pay whether you win or lose:

  • Court filing costs
  • Transcription expenses
  • Fees for pulling official documents
  • Expert witness fees
  • Costs of gathering police reports and other evidence
  • Deposition expenses

Some car accident lawyers pay these upfront costs out of their pockets and tie them into the final fee. In this case, you’ll only pay for legal costs if you win. However, other lawyers may charge you for legal costs as they come due. To avoid misunderstandings and unexpected bills, ask about legal costs when discussing fees.

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Other Types of Auto Accident Attorney Fees

While a contingency fee may be the most common way to charge car accident lawyer fees, it’s not the only model. Other payment structures include hourly rates, flat fees, retainers and hybrid options.

  • Hourly Fee. With an hourly fee, you’re billed for each hour of legal work your attorney performs. You either pay these fees upfront or as the work is completed, regardless of the case’s outcome.
  • Flat Rate. A flat rate is a predetermined, fixed amount that an attorney usually charges for specific legal services rather than for handling an entire case. Flat fees can be advantageous if you need help with a certain task, such as drafting a demand letter.
  • Retainer. A retainer is usually a large sum of money clients pay upfront. The attorney withdraws against the retainer as they provide legal services.

In addition to these three types of fees, hybrid models can involve a combination of contingency fees, hourly rates and flat fees. For example, a lawyer may charge a flat fee to help you with an insurance claim but use a contingency fee once you move forward with a personal injury lawsuit.

Never assume your lawyer works on contingency. An hourly fee or retainer could leave you out of pocket if you lose the case. Ensure you fully understand your car accident lawyer fees before hiring a lawyer.

How Much Do Lawyers Take from Car Accident Settlements?

What to expect regarding fees depends on the attorney’s fee structure. Commonly, auto accident attorney fees are around 33% of the total compensation. However, if the case involves complex legal issues or is likely to result in a trial, the fee may be closer to 40% of the car accident settlement or verdict. The fee can also vary depending on the experience the attorney brings to the table.

Some attorneys use a sliding scale, adjusting their fee percentage based on your case’s progress. For example, if your case settles early, they may only charge 25% of the payout. As the complexity and workload increase, your attorney may raise their fee to 40%.

How is fault determined in a car accident?

How fault and liability are determined depends on your state’s laws. For example, in fault-based states, such as California, the party causing an accident is responsible for the damages. Typically, insurance companies and courts will examine the evidence to assign fault.

On the other hand, no-fault states like Florida have different laws. Here, drivers typically carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP), which covers their medical expenses regardless of who caused the crash. In no-fault states, you can usually only sue for damages if you meet specific thresholds, such as a severe injury or a certain amount of property damage.

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Is Hiring a Lawyer Worth It?

After discovering how much a car accident lawyer costs, you might wonder whether you should handle your claim on your own. If you experienced a minor accident and suffered no or only minimal injuries, you may not need a lawyer. That said, getting legal advice is always a good idea when you’re involved in a crash.

However, hiring a skilled attorney can certainly be worth it if you have significant injuries and high damages or when a loved one dies in the crash. If the attorney’s fees seem steep, consider how much money you might leave on the table without legal representation. You may not know the worth of your claim and accept a low settlement offer or lose the case and recover nothing. A car accident lawyer can help you by:

  • Analyzing your case with the help of industry experts
  • Identifying all at-fault parties in the crash
  • Determining the worth of your case
  • Gathering and organizing evidence to prove your claim
  • Negotiating with insurance companies to maximize your payout
  • Presenting your case powerfully at trial

We’re Here to Guide You

Recovering from a car accident is emotionally, physically and financially draining. However, you don’t have to go it alone.

Consumer Shield can help you find the legal representation you need to get your life back on track. Ready to speak to an attorney? Just fill out the form on this page to get the process started today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Car accident lawyer fees depend on the agreement between the attorney and the client. With a contingency fee, the lawyer typically takes a third or more of the total recovery. For example, if a client receives a $100,000 settlement and the contingency fee is 33%, the lawyer would collect $33,000.

    Apart from contingency fees, some auto accident attorneys fees involve hourly rates or flat fees. Such charges can amount to thousands, tens of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the complexity of your case. Hourly fees and retainers are usually payable whether you win or lose.

  • Most personal injury attorneys charge nothing upfront for working on your car accident claim. You only pay them if and when they win your case. If you lose, you don’t receive a payout, and you don’t pay your attorney anything. If you win, your attorney collects a percentage of your final settlement or award.

  • Not everyone involved in a car crash needs a lawyer. However, hiring a car accident attorney can give you the best chance of recovering what you deserve if:

    • You suffered significant or disabling injuries
    • A loved one died in the accident
    • An insurance company denied or reduced your claim
    • You have high damages (medical bills, income loss and others)
    • Liability for the accident is disputed
    • You are partially at fault

    Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. Indeed, if you’re ready, fill out the form on this page to speak to an attorney.

  • The length of your car accident lawsuit will depend on various factors, such as your damages, the complexity of your case and the willingness of the defendant to settle. A relatively simple case may settle within a few months, while more complex ones could take a year or more, especially if they go to trial.

    Hiring a lawyer can help to expedite your case. They can aim to secure a fair settlement in the fastest possible time and, if your case goes to trial, handle the legal process efficiently.

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