Car accident attorney fees come in three varieties. You may hire a lawyer for a fixed or flat fee, which means you agree on a specific amount for your attorney to handle your case. Often criminal defense attorneys handle cases this way. Another arrangement is to hire your attorney by the hour for the work they perform. Car accident attorneys most often handle cases on what is known as a “contingency” fee arrangement.
In a contingency fee arrangement, car accident attorneys often state in their advertisements, “No costs unless we win.” This is because in a contingency arrangement, a percentage of any successful recovery is used to cover attorney’s fees. Most often this percentage is 1/3 of any recovery, though some attorneys charge as much as 40%. According to Owen, Patterson & Owen, a Santa Clarita accident attorney, there have been some cases where attorneys have charged 50% of the recovery.
Why Are Car Accident Attorney Fees Different?
Auto accidents fall under personal injury law. In personal injury cases, you, the victim most often has issues with lost wages and large medical bills, so paying personal injury attorney fees up front is difficult, if not impossible.
Therefore, fees you would pay for a personal injury attorney are often collected on a contingency basis. This means that your attorney is paid when the case is successfully settled. If your case is not successful, the personal injury attorney most often collects no attorney fees.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help Me with My Claim?
If you are involved in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you are entitled to seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. This compensation can cover your medical expenses, wages you were unable to earn due to being out of work during your recovery, and your pain and suffering.
This is more involved than simply submitting a claim to the other driver’s auto insurance company to cover your losses. This is where a car accident attorney can help you. Most of these situations require a lengthy investigation of your accident and negotiation between your attorney and the insurance company. If your attorney and the insurance company cannot reach a settlement, a lawsuit and an appearance in court may be required to ensure you receive adequate compensation.
How Do I Find the Right Car Accident Attorney?
Would you choose a doctor, electrician or plumber by their ads on television or from a billboard? Probably not. Why should you choose an attorney this way? Choosing the right car accident attorney is an important first step to helping you receive adequate compensation for your injuries.
You should not choose an attorney based on their advertising. Although there is nothing wrong with advertising, the fact that a law firm can pay for a TV ad has absolutely no correlation to the attorney’s abilities, or just as importantly, his desire to help you. Here are some tips on choosing the right car accident attorney.
Ask for Referrals
Ask your friends and colleagues about attorneys they know or have used previously. Ask questions like:
- Were you happy with him or her?
- Did the lawyer keep you informed and up to date?
- Did you have regular communication with the attorney?
- Did he or she return your phone calls and emails in a timely fashion?
- Did the lawyer seem passionate about your case?
If the answer to even one of those questions is no, keep looking.
Do Your Research. Will the Attorney Be a Good Fit For You?
Once you get a name of a car accident attorney from a friend, research their credentials. Perform an Internet search for an experienced personal injury attorney, or the best car accident lawyer in your city. Look at the websites and spend time looking at the lawyer’s experience and expertise. You should meet with the car accident attorney to follow up on your research. Ask questions that will determine if they are a fit for you, such as:
- What is their experience?
- Has the attorney handled your type of case before?
- Does the attorney regularly go to trial?
- Is the attorney willing to go to trial or will she push hard to settle your case? (It is well known that most cases settle; however, not all of them should.)
- Does the lawyer have a reputation for trying and winning cases?
- What are the lawyer’s credentials?
- Does the attorney have board certifications, good peer ratings from other attorneys, or ratings from Avvo, Martindale or other legal awards?
Make Sure Your Attorney Has the Resources to Finance Your Case
Car accident lawsuits are expensive. Does your car accident attorney have the financial and professional resources to properly see your case through?
Your attorney should not make decisions for your case based on their lack of resources. Your car accident attorney should have the proper resources to get the best result for you.
Will Your Car Accident Attorney Communicate with You?
You need a car accident lawyer that will take your calls, return your emails, and answer your questions. Ask your attorney about their policy for client communication. Your calls and emails should be returned within 48 hours, and there should be regularly scheduled appointments, either by phone or in person, every six weeks.
For more details, watch this YouTube video that explains the most important things about choosing an attorney in 60 seconds.
You may think paying 33% of a settlement is expensive, but consider this: without an experienced and knowledgeable advocate with the resources to help, you may not receive the compensation you deserve. Talk with an expert before you decide to go it alone.