Costs of a Car Accident Lawyer
The car is smashed to smithereens; you’ve missed days if not weeks of works; and your medical treatment expenses are through the roof. What are you going to do? The accident that occurred was not your fault, and yet you’re the one paying for everything. It might be time to talk to a car accident lawyer. But can you afford one?
What Kinds of Fee Arrangements Are There?
The traditional view of lawyers is that they are so expensive that most cases are not worth pursuing. While that may be the case in certain areas of the law, the fact is that many attorneys these days are turning to new and innovative billing practices like:
- Hourly rates: These tend to be the expensive types of legal arrangements where the attorney’s time is paid for on an agreed-upon hourly basis. That means that every moment the attorney spends on your case is time you pay for.
- Flat fee arrangements: These are rarer because they set a pre-determined value for the legal support being provided and usually specific parameters for increasing or going outside that amount. The good part of this type of arrangement is the concrete nature of the agreement.
- Contingency fee arrangements: These are commonly known as “you don’t pay unless you win” deals, which is not entirely accurate. But the benefit of these arrangements is that there is no up-front cost to the client and there is therefore a high incentive on the part of the attorney to vigorously pursue the case.
What Happens in a Contingency Fee Case?
Generally speaking, the client does not have to pay an up-front fee (retainer) to hire his or her attorney in a contingency fee case. Instead, the client agrees to give the attorney a percentage amount (usually between 25% and 45%) of any recovery. This amount can include additional expenses and costs that occurred in the lawsuit that are always payable by the client. Examples:
- Costs of filing the case in court and any fees for service of process;
- Costs for obtaining records and reports and for producing documentation;
- Fees for expert witnesses and court reporters; and
- Clerical costs.
There are some cases where the attorney will take a retainer up front but still work on a contingency fee basis. In any event, some attorneys will require costs to be paid up-front, others will include them in the contingency, and still others simply bill costs as they come due.
Assuming a contingency fee of 40%, that means that if a case goes to trial, and the client wins, the attorney would receive 40% of the total amount awarded to the client. But what if the case settles? Or fails? Is anything owed to the attorney then?
The short answer is that it depends on the contingency fee arrangement. If the arrangement spells out that the only way the client owes is if the case is won, then nothing is owed for the attorney’s time. However, the client is still responsible for paying monies that were fronted on his or her behalf. It also does not remove the obligation to pay any court or other expert costs.
The risks of not recovering in a legal dispute simply do not rise to the level of the potential benefit of being able to cover the medical, employment, and other costs that arise out of such an accident. Having qualified attorneys who are ready to help and mindful of your financial circumstances helps to ease you through the process. If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, contact Car Accident Help at (405) 285-4357.
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