If you were injured in an auto accident and the other driver is probably at fault, you’ll likely be entitled to seek compensation for your damages. To get assistance with this process, you might look into hiring a lawyer. That would naturally lead you to wonder, “how much do lawyers typically charge for help with accident claims?”
While most people think of retainers and hourly fees when it comes to lawyers, those who work on accident claims usually structure their fees differently.
Lawyer Contingency Fees for Accident Claims
Lawyers who help accident victims file claims for damages are known as personal injury lawyers. One thing that sets personal injury lawyers apart from other types of lawyers is the contingency fee.
Here’s what you need to know about working on contingency with a personal injury lawyer:
- When a lawyer works on contingency, it means they don’t get paid unless they recover money in your accident case.
- If the lawyer does win you money, their fee is taken as a percentage of that settlement or award.
- The contingency fee for most personal injury lawyers is between 33.3% and 40% of what they win you in your case, although different conditions can mean different contingency fees.
When Contingency Fees May Vary
Sometimes, a lawyer may offer a contingency fee on a sliding scale, between 33.3% and 40% of what you win. A sliding scale structure might look something like this:
- 33.3% contingency fee if you file a lawsuit but settle the case before going to trial
- 40% contingency fee if the case goes all the way to trial or requires mediation/artbitration
Although a 40% fee may seem like a lot, if you win your case at trial, the potential to win more money is much higher, so it’s usually worth it to have the lawyer’s expertise on your side. Plus, contingency still means you still don’t pay a fee unless you win money.
How much an accident lawyer charges may also vary based on specific details of your case or the state in which the lawyer practices. When you schedule a consultation with a lawyer you are interested in hiring, you’ll want to ask about how they structure their fees and if those fees change at any point. If you are unclear about anything, ask the lawyer to explain it to you.
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Other Fees Accident Lawyers May Charge
Besides the contingency fee, there are other charges that may come with an accident case. Some of those may include:
- Expert witness fees
- Costs of obtaining copies of the police report or your medical records
- Court reporter fees
- Photocopying costs
- Costs of trial exhibits
Be sure to closely read the contingency fee agreement with your lawyer to see how these additional costs are handled. Some accident lawyers may take care of these fees as they come, then wait to deduct them from whatever money you win. Others may charge these fees upfront. You’ll also want to know which costs you are still responsible for even if your case isn’t won.
Most lawyers will deduct their contingency fee from your net settlement, which is your settlement amount after other fees and expenses have been deducted. However, there are some lawyers who may take their fee out first, which would mean you’re paying them a higher amount. This difference is important to distinguish during the consultation.
Is Hiring a Lawyer for Your Accident Claim Worth the Cost?
It can be hard to think clearly about what you need after a traumatic accident. You might wonder if you really need to go through the trouble of finding a lawyer to help you with your claim. But we would caution you to not try and handle your accident case on your own.
If someone else was negligent in your accident, you have the right to seek compensation (Georgia Code § 51-1-6). When you file a personal injury claim for damages, you’ll be dealing with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This is where things can get complicated, frustrating, and very confusing. Insurance companies do not like to pay out much on accident claims, and they will look for ways to reduce the value of yours. This often means tactics like:
- Offering you a lowball settlement upfront, hoping you’ll take it and end your case
- Trying to get you to agree to a recorded statement that could be used against you later
- Calling and asking how you’re feeling, hoping you’ll say something that will be harmful to your claim
- Blaming you for some (or all) of the accident in an attempt to reduce their liability for damages
- Making you feel like the lowball settlement is the best you’re going to get
It’s difficult to know how to handle this without the help of an experienced lawyer. Plus, when the insurance company sees that you are working with an accident lawyer, they are more likely to take your claim seriously and offer you more. Your lawyer will know how to communicate and negotiate with the insurance company to seek the fullest compensation possible.
The more serious your injuries and your total personal injury damages, the more important it is for you to have a lawyer. That being said, we would advise scheduling a consultation with a lawyer no matter how severe your accident was. You are much more likely to get a higher settlement if you have a legal professional helping you build your claim.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
To discuss your case with an experienced accident lawyer, contact John Foy & Associates today. We have 20 plus years of experience helping injury victims win the recovery they need and deserve—and we never work for insurance companies. We can help you build a strong claim and stand up to the insurance company.