About Auto Accident Attorney Fees
Were you recently injured in a car accident? A car accident attorney can help you navigate every step of the insurance claim process and fight to compensate for losses and related expenses.
As you begin looking at prospective law firms to hire, it’s important to understand how the pricing structure will work, as legal fees vary. Here’s a look at the most common types of auto accident attorney fees.
Types of About Auto Accident Attorney Fees
Every lawyer and law firm bills differently, which isn’t to say that one form is necessarily better than another. The type of fee arrangement that a legal firm offers can vary. Here are three of the most common billing structures.
1. Contingency Fees
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. In this case, the attorney’s fee is based on a percentage of the amount awarded in a judgment or negotiated in a claim settlement.
Clients are not required to pay up-front to retain these services, and the lawyer does not receive a fee if the case or claim is unsuccessful. In the event of a loss, the client may still be required to pay certain legal fees, so it’s important to read the agreement carefully before agreeing to any terms.
2. Flat Rates/Fixed Fees
If an attorney works on a flat-rate or fixed-fee basis, they charge a single, total fee for the services they offer.
This type of fee arrangement is usually reserved for cases that are relatively simple or routine. Attornies can usually drive those cases using specific forms and standardized practices.
In most cases, retainers aren’t charged as separate fees. Rather, they work more as an upfront deposit. Clients will pay a retainer toward the total cost of legal services, typically to put a lawyer “on hold” in the event that a legal problem arises and stored in an account.
The amount of the retainer fee is usually determined by multiplying the lawyer’s hourly rate by a set number of hours. Then, as the client accrues legal services, those costs are deducted from the account accordingly. While most retainer fees are non-refundable, they do not guarantee a specific outcome or final product.
What Are the Average Auto Accident Attorney Fees?
There is no standard that dictates how much a car accident lawyer can charge. However, we can look at nationwide averages to understand how these teams typically structure their charges.
If your attorney works on a contingency basis, the average is between 25% and 40% of the final settlement earnings. Some firms charge around 33%, or one-third of the total amount.
Why Would an Attorney Accept a Car Accident Case Without Any Upfront Fees?
Knowing that a car accident case isn’t guaranteed to result in a settlement or judgment, why would an attorney work on a contingency basis without charging an initial fee?
Put simply, this type of structure makes legal services more accessible and affordable to car accident victims who need them the most. In addition, it also gives the attorney an invested interest in the case.
Knowing that they do not get paid unless the case wins drives lawyers to give each case their full, dedicated attention. They’re willing to put their own time, money, and energy on the line to make sure you receive the settlement you deserve.
Other Expenses Auto Accident Attorneys May Charge
Regardless of the specific type of fee arrangement an auto accident attorney may follow, there may be additional costs to pay. Some law firms may cover these costs, but every case is circumstantial. Additional fees may include:
Before a court will accept legal papers, they will typically charge filing fees. This helps cover the costs required to review and store the documents, and also serves to discourage unnecessary filings.
Jury fees are paid to jurors in civil cases. The amounts are set by law, and the party that requests the jury is required to pay the expenses in advance. In addition to a flat fee for each juror, these expenses also include travel reimbursement by mileage.
If a witness testifies at your deposition or trial, they will receive a payment for their time and service. As with a jury fee, the amount is set by law. You may also be required to pay the witness’ travel expenses.
Lawyer Travel Costs
If your lawyer is required to travel on behalf of you or your case, you could be responsible for paying those costs. They can include mileage, gas, meals, parking, airfare, and lodging.
Expert and Consultant Charges
Your attorney may require the help of an outside expert or consultant to work through the details of your case. These fees allow you to retain those services.
Copying and Faxing Costs
Administrative work, including copying and faxing documents, can cost your lawyer time and money. These fees will pay for those services.
In some cases, it may be necessary to hire an investigator to uncover details and evidence related to your accident. You could be required to pay the bill for those services.
Service of Process Fees
Service of process occurs when a party to a lawsuit provides a notice of initial legal action to another party, court, or administrative body. These fees cover the costs charged by the individuals tasked with locating those parties and delivering the legal papers to them.
Postage, Courrier, and Messenger Costs
Throughout your case, your lawyer may need to mail, ship, or deliver documents to certain parties. These costs will pay for those materials and services.
If your case requires your lawyer to spend a significant amount of time on their personal cell phone or work phone, they may ask you to help with those costs.
In addition to your attorney, there may be other staff members working at the legal office who could assist with your case. These costs pay for those services.
Negotiate Reduced Fees with an Auto Accident Attorney
If you need to retain legal services following an auto accident, lawyer fees shouldn’t keep you from receiving the help you deserve.
If you can’t afford to pay what your auto accident lawyer is charging, ask if you can work out a payment plan to cover the costs over a set amount of time. Or, you may be able to enter into another financial arrangement. For instance, if the case isn’t currently moving forward, you could ask the lawyer if they can temporarily postpone working on it to lower your bill.
If the payment issue remains unsolved, the attorney could be entitled to stop working on your case. They could even resign or withdraw from your case altogether. This is why it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and share your concerns as soon as they arise.
Is a Car Accident Lawyer Worth the Cost?
With the different costs to consider, you may wonder if hiring an attorney is worth the related expense. Consider this…
A qualified and experienced lawyer can help you navigate your claim, handle complex negotiations, network with experts to strengthen your case, and will fight for the maximized settlement you deserve.
Just be sure to ask about all related fees and expenses up-front and make sure you understand the terms before moving forward.
At Valley Accident Attorneys, we have helped countless clients recover fair and full compensation, and we can help you too. To learn more about our law firm or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today.