How Much Will A Car Accident Attorney Cost?
Many people who have been injured in a car accident do not seek out a car accident lawyer because they do not think they can afford the services of an accident attorney. While the fact is that attorneys rarely offer pro-bono (or free) legal services, the truth is that there are a number of different ways that attorneys bill for their services. If you choose not to seek an attorney, the potential for no settlement or a smaller settlement may end up costing you more than hiring an car accident lawyer would have. Here is a general overview of the typical fee arrangements that may be available if you choose to work with an injury attorney.
This is the typical arrangement people think of when they think of working with an attorney. In this scenario, the attorney tracks the amount of time that he or she works on your case and bills you at a predetermined hourly billing rate. Most attorneys round their bill to the nearest tenth of an hour (6 minute billing increments). The billing rate can for an attorney can span a large range from just a few hundred dollars an hour to several hundred, depending on the skill and experience of the attorney. Make sure you get a fee agreement up front, read it carefully, and understand all the expenses associated with your attorney-client relationship.
Some attorneys, especially injury lawyers, are willing to work with clients on a contingent fee basis after conducting an analysis of the case. If an attorney agrees to work on a contingent fee basis, the attorney may take no money upfront, or may only require the client to pay filing fees upfront. Then, if the attorney is successful in getting a settlement or judgment for their client, the attorney takes a percentage. The amount kept by the attorney varies based on the type of case and what stage of litigation the case proceeds to, but it typically ranges from 25-40%. While that is a significant percentage of the proceeds, the client must keep in mind that the attorney bears all the risk and is entitled to no fees if he or she fails to recover damages. Additionally, many times the settlement a client gets after the fees are taken by the lawyer still far exceeds the amount the client may have been able to negotiate on their own.
Under some circumstances, attorneys may be willing to represent an injury client free of charge. These representation arrangements are typically arranged through community organizations and are available to only certain, typically low-income, individuals.
If you are considering hiring an injury lawyer, search for one that will work with you in a fee arrangement that works for you. Be sure to ask upfront if the attorney offers free consultations, and if so, consider all the information provided by the attorney in your consultation, and don’t feel bad about shopping around for an attorney who will work best for you and your family. It is important that you choose an attorney who you are comfortable with and will offer you a payment arrangement that is manageable for you.