How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Car Accident?

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Car Accident
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Car Accident?

You suffered injuries in a car accident someone else caused, and you want to seek compensation for your injuries. You know you will need an attorney for help, but you wonder about how much a car accident attorney will cost. The good news is that you won’t have to pay anything upfront since most car accident lawyers work on contingency. This means they only receive a payment if they recover compensation for you, either through a settlement or jury award.

Considering most personal injury lawyers also offer free consultations, you have no financial risk in contacting an attorney and discussing your options for obtaining compensation.

What Does Contingency Mean? 

Car accident lawyers typically handle injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Instead of requiring you to pay a retainer fee upfront or bill you periodically for their hourly fees, a car accident lawyer will agree to take your case and represent you with the understanding they will receive payment as a percentage of the compensation they recover for you. 

The lawyer will take all the risk because they only get paid if they deliver results. Thus, many car accident attorneys only take on cases they feel have a high chance of settling or receiving a substantial award. However, if the lawyer cannot recover compensation for you, you should not have to pay them anything.

According to one study cited by Harvard Law, approximately “96% of individuals and 85% of organizations” that were plaintiffs in a tort lawsuit had a contingency fee agreement with their legal counsel. 

How Much of a Contingent Fee Percentage Will My Lawyer Take?

The percentage a car accident lawyer receives depends on state laws and the time and amount of work they spent on a case. Percentages can vary from case to case. For example, a lawyer may charge a certain percentage if they secure a settlement before trial and another percentage if they must take your case to court.

To help combat lawyers charging exorbitant fees for their services on contingency and in the interest of full disclosure and transparency, most states have regulations regarding how lawyers who work on contingency calculate and recover their fees. For instance, Minnesota law states that lawyers may not charge “an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.”

Your car accident lawyer must sit with you and carefully review their fee schedules and the costs and expenses they expect to recover. You should fully understand the lawyer’s expectations and your responsibilities before signing a contract. If the lawyer refuses to disclose their fee percentage or seems reluctant to discuss the matter, seek legal counsel elsewhere.

You may need to consider more than the lawyer’s fee. The fee agreement should also detail the attorney’s expectations for receiving cost-related expenses, such as court filing fees, expert witness fees, travel expenses, and more.

Your attorney should discuss all areas involving case-related costs with you so you know what to expect, and they should clearly outline any ancillary expenses in the fee agreement.

Receiving Funds After the Case Resolves 

Your car accident lawyer can successfully navigate your claim and recover compensation for you in one of two ways: a negotiated settlement with the insurance company or a court award. In either event, the at-fault parties will tender payment, and that typically occurs when the liable party sends a check to your attorney.

The money will go into a trust account your lawyer created to handle the money for injured clients. Your attorney will take their percentage of fees and expenses as outlined in the fee agreement and cut you a check for the remainder.

What Work Will a Lawyer Do for My Claim While Working on Contingency? 

Just because a lawyer works on contingency when handling your case does not mean you should expect anything less than the best representation possible. A lawyer shouldn’t alter their obligations to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. In fact, a lawyer who works on contingency may have more incentive to work hard on your case and recover the maximum compensation because they will benefit in the end as well.

In any event, expect your lawyer to handle all of these aspects of your claim for you:

Investigation and Gathering Evidence

Once you decide to hire a lawyer, they will thoroughly investigate the truck accident. This includes gathering evidence such as police reports, witness statements, photographs, videos, medical records, and any other relevant documentation.

Establishing Liability

Your lawyer will establish liability by examining the evidence, analyzing the applicable laws, and determining which parties you may hold responsible for the accident. They will build a strong case to prove negligence or fault on the part of the liable parties.

Calculating Damages

An attorney will assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering, and other related losses. They will consider both current and future damages to ensure you seek appropriate compensation.

Some forms of compensation you could receive include:

  • Medical bills and treatment costs, including past, current, and future expenses
  • Lost income and work benefits
  • Loss of future earnings due to a disability resulting from your injuries
  • The costs to repair or replace your damaged property
  • Other related out-of-pocket expenses
  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Emotional distress and psychological issues, such as PTSD and depression
  • Inconvenience and diminished quality of life
  • Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of a body part or bodily function

Working with Experts

Your lawyer will have access to industry and medical experts who may provide invaluable testimony to support your claim. This can include accident reconstruction professionals, medical specialists, forensic experts, and others. By employing these specialized professionals, your lawyer can obtain critical evidence to bolster your claim and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Communication with Insurance Companies

Your lawyer will handle all communications and negotiations with the insurance companies involved. They will advocate for you, protect your interests, and work to achieve a fair settlement on your behalf. They will review any settlement offers and provide guidance on whether to accept or reject them.

Settlement Negotiation

Throughout the process, your lawyer will negotiate with the opposing party to achieve a fair settlement. They will use their negotiation skills and legal experience to pursue the best possible outcome for you.

Litigation and Trial Preparation

If the insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, your lawyer can prepare your case for litigation. This involves drafting legal documents, filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, conducting discovery (gathering evidence from the opposing party), and preparing for trial.

Your lawyer can continue to negotiate with the insurance company or liable party to reach a fair settlement to avoid a trial. Also, many civil courts require parties to engage in pre-trial mediation to resolve the dispute. Your attorney can represent you in any legal proceedings and protect your rights and interests.

Representing Your Interests in Court

If your case proceeds to trial, your lawyer can represent you in court. They will present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, make legal arguments, and fight for your rights before a judge and/or jury. They will strive to secure a favorable verdict and maximize your compensation.

Handling Administrative Tasks

The injury claims process requires complex documentation and meeting strict deadlines. Your lawyer will handle administrative tasks related to your claim, such as filing paperwork, managing deadlines, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Obtaining Compensation

If your lawyer successfully obtains compensation for you, they will handle the disbursement of funds and ensure you receive the appropriate amount according to the agreed-upon contingency fee arrangement.

By working on a contingency fee basis, your lawyer assumes the financial risk of your case, which motivates them to secure the highest possible compensation for you. This arrangement allows you to access legal representation without upfront costs and invests your lawyer in the success of your claim.

Why Do You Need to Contact an Attorney Immediately?

Contact a lawyer right away not just to resolve your injury claim and get the compensation you need as soon as possible, but for another reason. Each state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in civil court to recover damages.

For example, Wisconsin generally only allows you three years from your injury to file a lawsuit in court, while both Minnesota and North Dakota generally allow six years.

Once the statute of limitations expires, you will have no other legal recourse to get money from the at-fault party. Therefore, you need to contact an attorney immediately to determine if you still have time to file for compensation, and get the process started so you don’t forfeit your right to receive compensation.

Since most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency, you have virtually no financial risk in reaching out to an attorney and discussing your options.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Injury Lawyer Today

Russell Nicolet - Attorney for Side-by-Side ATVs in Wisconsin & Minnesota
Russell Nicolet, Car Accident Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer can provide you with peace of mind during a tumultuous and difficult time. You can focus on your physical recovery and healing while your lawyer handles all the legwork for you. 

Don’t let financial concerns keep you from contacting an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your claim for you. A car accident attorney won’t charge you anything upfront or bill you by the hour. You will only pay if you receive compensation, so there’s really no risk to you. 

Don’t delay in contacting a car accident attorney to ensure you don’t jeopardize your chances for financial recovery. Contact an experienced car accident attorney today for a free consultation concerning your claim.