After a car accident, many people will consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to help with their case. This is a smart move. Having a lawyer on your side can help you protect your legal right to compensation, handle the complex legal details of your claim, and allow you more time and energy to recover from your injuries while also filing your claim on time.
Most accident lawyers work on what’s called a “contingency fee basis,” which means they don’t get paid unless you win your case. Their payment comes out of your final settlement award. On average, a lawyer will take a 33% contingency fee, but if you don’t win your case then you don’t owe them a penny.
Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer Even if the Accident Was Minor?
No matter how small the accident, a car accident lawyer is a good investment. This is because a lawyer can help protect your rights while also ensuring you file your claim before Georgia’s statute of limitations expires.
Further, a lawyer can help you gather strong evidence you may not be able to gather on your own. A lawyer also knows which experts to hire to testify on your behalf and back up your claims that the other party was negligent.
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How Contingency Fees Work
Most personal injury lawyers (also known as accident lawyers) use a different fee structure than other types of lawyers. Instead of charging by an hourly fee, many accident lawyers use a contingency fee.
Under contingency, the lawyer doesn’t get paid any fees unless they win you money in your case. Once they do recover money for you, their contingency fee is taken as a percentage of what you receive. You would either receive this as a settlement or from a judge or jury verdict if your case goes to trial.
Contingency fees work well for injury victims because it means there’s no upfront cost. You can begin working with your lawyer immediately and not worry about paying fees yet. Then, the fee to your lawyer typically comes out of the money you win before you receive the rest. In essence, there’s no need for anything to come directly out of your pocket.
How Much of a Percentage Do Lawyers Take?
The percentage of accidents lawyers take depends on the firm you are working with, so you’ll need to ask to be sure. However, most contingency fees range from 33.3-40% of your settlement.
For example, if your lawyer helps you recover $60,000 from your injury case and the lawyer has a 33.3% contingency fee, your lawyer would receive around $20,000.
“Sliding Scale” Fees
The fee range can also vary depending on how far your case goes, as well. This is sometimes known as a “sliding scale”:
- If you are able to settle with the at-fault party’s insurance company before your case goes to court, the percentage may be lower.
- If your case goes to trial or you receive a settlement after you’ve filed a lawsuit—and the jury decides what to award you—your lawyer’s percentage may be closer to the 40% range.
Your lawyer is more likely to offer a lower contingency fee percentage if your case is more straightforward.
For example, say you were hurt in a car accident. The other driver’s fault is pretty easy to demonstrate, you can prove all your damages, and you have a lot of evidence backing your insurance claim. In this situation, your chances of settling early are good, and your lawyer may receive a lower percentage compared with a more complicated case that has a high chance of going to trial.
Thankfully, in states like Georgia, you are entitled to full compensation for your damages from the person or party who caused your accident, per OCGA §51-12-4. This gives you the potential to receive financial recovery for all the costs you now face—and a Georgia accident lawyer will know how to help you get there.
Discuss the Percentage with Your Accident Lawyer
Most accident lawyers offer a free consultation. Take advantage of this, and ask them questions about their fees and contract terms. A good, experienced personal injury lawyer will lay everything out for you and explain their fee structure. If you have any questions about their services, you can get those answered during the free consultation.
Common Costs in Car Accident Cases
Although the contingency fee is what most people think about in regards to accident lawyers, there are other fees associated with personal injury cases. Common costs in car accident cases include:
- Obtaining medical records
- Getting copies of police reports
- Filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
- Deposition fees
- Payment to experts or investigators
- Getting transcript copies
- Trial exhibits
However, these are details you’ll need to discuss beforehand. If some fees are required as they become due, you and your lawyer will need to stay in contact about them so nothing about your case is delayed.
If you’re concerned about extra costs in your case, talk to your lawyer about ways to manage expenses and get a good idea of what your total fees will be. A good lawyer will work to keep fees to a minimum while still doing what is necessary to pursue the best outcome for you.
Where Does the Settlement Check Go?
When the at-fault party’s insurance company offers you a settlement and you accept it, the insurer typically sends a check for the agreed-upon amount. If you have an accident lawyer, they will usually receive the settlement check directly.
Once your lawyer receives the check, they will deduct any case fees and their contingency fees. They will let you know when they get the check and provide you with a list of what was deducted for fees. Your lawyer will then send you the remaining settlement that is yours.
A Lawyer Can Make Dealing with the Insurance Company More Bearable
You might wonder if you really need a lawyer to handle your case after your accident. In general, it’s best to not try taking on your injury claim alone unless your case is very simple and straightforward.
Insurance companies have an entire team of trained adjusters and attorneys. They will be prepared to fight your claim and look for ways to reduce (or completely deny) your injury claim. Having a lawyer on your side helps level the playing field and gives you the best chance at fair compensation.
We recommend at least scheduling a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced accident lawyer. They can give you an idea of how your case looks and your chances of receiving a fair settlement offer.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer on Contingency Today
At John Foy & Associates, we are proud to work purely on a contingency fee basis. We have been helping our clients win the settlement they deserve for over 20 years, and we can help you too. To schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation and go over the details of your case, call us today at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.