How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Car Accident?
There is no way of knowing how much you’ll pay for a car accident lawyer until you settle your case or reach a favorable jury verdict in a lawsuit. Personal injury lawyers commonly take cases on a contingency fee basis. That means they don’t charge you fees upfront to hire them. Instead, they take a predetermined percentage from your monetary award to cover their legal fees, case-related costs, and other expenses.
You should consider hiring a Miami car accident lawyer if you get hurt in a car crash due to someone else’s negligence. The thought of paying someone to represent you in your case might seem daunting, especially if you’re already paying for medical care and other bills. However, hiring a lawyer who works on contingency means you don’t have to worry about whether you can afford those costs.
How Contingency Fees Work in Car Accident Cases
A contingency fee makes pursuing legal action after an accident relatively risk-free. Since the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you get paid, you’re not responsible for a retainer fee or other upfront costs.
If they recover compensation for you, the lawyer receives either:
- A percentage of the car insurance settlement
- A portion of the financial award decided by a judge or jury in a lawsuit
Contingency fees are beneficial because they incentivize lawyers to seek the best possible outcome. Although they care about your interests, they must also make a living. They need to make money, and not getting paid upfront means they’ll likely work harder to resolve your case favorably.
Additional Costs Required in Car Accident Cases
An attorney’s fee is one of many fees you must pay when you seek legal representation.
Other expenses come up while your lawyer handles your case, such as:
- Court costs
- Photocopying fees
- Filing fees
- Postage fees
- Transcripts, depositions, and trial exhibit fees
- Investigator or expert witness fees
- Cost of requesting copies of medical records and bills
Although you are ultimately responsible for case-related expenses, you don’t have to pay them immediately. Contingency fee lawyers typically cover those costs for you. If they recover a settlement or financial award, the fees they already paid will come from your compensation to reimburse them.
Costs that reduce a car accident settlement include:
- Attorneys’ fees. Once your lawyer secures your compensation, you must pay your lawyer if they work on a contingency fee. Attorneys’ fees compensate your legal team for the work they do. The fee agreement you signed when you hired them will determine the percentage they take from your compensation.
- Case-related expenses. Your attorney will likely cover all the costs associated with your case. However, you must pay them back when they recover a monetary award. Those costs could include medical records requests, copying fees, court costs, and other bills. Your lawyer will calculate how much they paid on your behalf and deduct the number from your settlement or award.
- Medical bills. Sometimes, lawyers can negotiate with medical providers to suspend the account until the case ends. That means the accident victim doesn’t have to pay for that provider’s treatment upfront. The medical providers also agree not to send the account to collections. The lawyer will pay the bills when the case settles, or there’s a verdict. Your lawyer might be able to negotiate a lower balance to increase the amount of money you get to take home.
After paying all the owed expenses, bills, and fees, your lawyer will print the final settlement check. The money left over is yours.
Is It Worth It to Hire a Lawyer?
Always hire a lawyer after a car accident. Insurance companies know how to reduce the value of a claim and fight aggressively in court. If you don’t have a lawyer with you, the insurer will use every resource at their disposal to avoid paying a significant settlement.
Hire an attorney after a car crash if any of these circumstances apply:
- Disputes over fault. You must prove someone else is at fault for the car accident to hold them liable. That means you need substantial evidence to establish how their actions led to the collision and your injuries. The at-fault driver might deny your allegations, or their insurance carrier might blame you for what happened. An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to prove liability and fight the insurance carrier.
- You share fault. If you’re partly at fault for the crash, the insurance company can reduce your settlement or deny your claim. They might argue that your actions caused your injury, so their policyholder should not be liable. A lawyer knows how to manage cases when an accident victim shares fault for the crash. They can pursue adequate compensation despite your level of responsibility.
- Multiple parties. Sometimes, car crashes involve more than two vehicles and drivers. Determining fault is more challenging when there are multiple parties involved in an accident. An attorney can investigate the complex situation to establish liability and who should compensate you for your injury. It might require filing a claim with more than one insurance company.
- You have a disabling or permanent injury. If the car accident leaves you with a permanent injury or disability, you will likely need ongoing treatment even after the case ends. That means you must recover compensation that can pay for your future medical bills, so you don’t have to pay out of pocket. A lawyer knows how to maximize the value of a claim and obtain evidence to prove a permanent or disabling condition. They can acquire statements from your doctors, diagnostic test results, medical records, and other documentation to show the nature of your injury and how it will affect you in the future.
- Insurance bad faith. The insurance carrier might handle your claim in bad faith. The insurance adjuster is not on your side, despite what you might think. They don’t want to pay your claim and will look for evidence to disprove your injury or discount liability to avoid a high settlement. Some mistakes are mistakes. However, there are times when insurers act in bad faith by delaying the process unnecessarily, misrepresenting the insurance coverage, or failing to conduct an investigation.
How to Find a Dependable Car Accident Lawyer
During your search, you should understand what to look for in a car accident attorney. The most reputable and trusted legal representation comes from referrals. You can ask the people closest to you to recommend a lawyer they used in the past. Although selecting a random lawyer from the internet can work out for you, there are better methods than this.
You can find the right lawyer to represent you in your car accident case through:
- Family and friends. Ask people in your inner circle, such as relatives, friends, or coworkers, if they know of a lawyer you can hire. You can feel confident knowing you can trust who they refer you to because they would not recommend someone they didn’t like or who doesn’t have experience.
- Research. You can research online to find a reputable attorney in your area. Some websites have lawyer directories showing their practice areas, case results, and reviews from previous clients.
- Attorneys you know. Maybe you already know a lawyer who can handle your car accident case because they represented you after a past accident. Or perhaps you know an attorney who doesn’t handle car accidents but has connections in their legal network and can refer you to someone.
Qualifies to Look for in a Car Accident Lawyer
The methods you use to find legal candidates aren’t enough to ensure you hire a suitable lawyer who will meet your needs. You must talk to them in person before deciding. During the initial meeting, it is essential to pay attention to how they interact with you and ask the right questions.
Follow these tips while meeting with a car accident attorney to help you choose the right one.
Pay attention to how they communicate: Talking to a potential lawyer in person is the best way of determining how they communicate and whether you will get along. They should speak to you with sympathy and compassion. If they don’t seem to care about what you went through, they likely won’t work that hard at trying to achieve a favorable outcome. They might focus only on making money by resolving your case quickly, regardless of your legal goals.
Pay attention to the attorney’s body language and facial expressions. They should listen while you speak, address your concerns, and ask questions about the accident. If they aren’t a good listener or interested in learning about the details of your case, they’re not the right fit.
Ask about their experience: A lawyer with experience representing clients in car accident cases is more likely to reach a positive result in your car accident case. They know state laws and how to negotiate with insurance companies. They also understand the tactics insurers use to reduce the value of claims and how to overcome that obstacle. Many car accident attorneys also have experience handling complex matters involving disputed liability, multiple at-fault parties, and other issues.
When you meet with an attorney, ask about their experience with car accidents specifically. They might know personal injury law but mainly handle premises liability and medical malpractice. If they only represented a handful of clients in car crashes, chances are they don’t have enough knowledge or skill to pursue your case effectively and efficiently.
Review their case results: A lawyer’s experience should align with their track record. Someone with decades of experience and thousands of cases under their belt isn’t necessarily good at their job. Before you meet with an attorney, it’s essential to review their previous results to determine whether they have a proven track record of success. You should probably consider hiring someone else if you see more losses than wins.
Understand their fee schedule: Personal injury lawyers often take cases on a contingency fee basis. You should steer clear of anyone who charges a retainer, bills by the hour, or expects upfront payment or ongoing legal fees and case-related expenses.
Ask each potential candidate about their fees. If they work on contingency, review a sample agreement to ensure they truly charge contingency fees. Some lawyers say they take cases on contingency but only include some costs in the payment arrangement. They might not require attorneys’ fees or a retainer when clients hire them but charge specific fees during the pending case. Understanding the payment arrangement in advance prevents you from incurring costs hidden in the fine print or unexpected fees you can’t afford. Reach out to a Miami personal injury lawyer.