How Much is a Lawyer for a Car Accident?

woman on phone with car accident lawyer after car crash

How much does a car accident lawyer cost? The simple answer is a car accident lawyer costs nothing out of pocket. Learn how car accident lawyers get paid and why it is worth it to hire a lawyer to help you.

How much is a lawyer for a car accident? If you’ve been injured in an accident and you have this question, you are not alone. Lots of people have questions about car accident lawyer fees, and lots of people have reservations about hiring a lawyer to help them.

But, hiring a lawyer is not expensive. In fact, it costs nothing out of pocket. In this article, we answer the question, “How much does a car accident lawyer cost?”, and we provide some tips for making informed decisions about your situation.

How Much Does a Car Accident Lawyer Cost?

Car accident lawyers work “on contingency.” Unlike other types of lawyers’ fees, car accident lawyer fees aren’t calculated on a monthly basis. Instead, car accident lawyer fees are calculated as a percentage of the client’s recovery.

This means that car accident victims only pay for their legal representation if they receive financial compensation. If you hire a lawyer on contingency and your lawyer does not help you recover financial compensation, then you owe your lawyer nothing.

Lawyers handle car accident cases on a contingency-fee basis for two primary reasons:

  • So you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is difficult enough on its own without having to worry about legal fees. Contingency-fee representation ensures that you can hire a lawyer to help you without worrying about running up a bill.
  • To show that they have your best interests in mind. Since your lawyer only gets paid if you win, you can feel confident that your lawyer has your best interests in mind. Your lawyer has zero incentive to rack up unnecessary hours or string out your case. Instead, your lawyer is incentivized to help you recover maximum compensation as quickly as possible.

In states that have personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (Med Pay) insurance (such as California), lawyers often won’t charge anything for helping their clients secure this no-fault coverage. Some lawyers also won’t charge anything for helping with their clients’ property damage claims. When you schedule a free initial consultation, you should feel free to ask which portion(s) of your claim will be used to calculate your car accident lawyer’s contingency fees.

Car Accident Lawyer Fees: What Percentages Do They Charge?

Most lawyers charge roughly the same fees for handling car accident insurance claims. A 33% contingency fee is fairly standard when a claim results in a settlement, while lawyers will typically charge more (usually 40%) if they need to go to trial. But, some charge less and some charge more. Before you sign an engagement agreement, your lawyer should clearly outline his or her contingency fees in writing.

Most lawyers base their contingency fees on their clients’ net recovery. This is the amount of your settlement or verdict minus the costs your lawyer incurred in pursuing your claim. For example, if you accept a $200,000 settlement and your lawyer incurred $5,000 in costs while pursuing your claim (i.e. for investigators, medical experts, transportation, and printing), your lawyer’s contingency fee would be calculated as a percentage of $195,000. Your lawyer would also recover the $5,000 he or she incurred on your behalf. Lawyers typically incur costs on a contingency basis as well. So, if your claim was unsuccessful, your lawyer would simply absorb these costs and you would not be charged.

How Much Can You Expect to Pay (and Take Home)?

So, how much is a lawyer for a car accident? Ultimately, the amount of your car accident lawyer’s fees will depend on the value of your case. The more your lawyer helps you recover, the larger fee he or she will earn.

This leads many people to think that it isn’t worth hiring a lawyer because their legal fees will eat up their financial recovery. But, this is a common misconception.

Here’s why:

Let’s say you’ve been injured in a car accident. Your medical bills are $5,000, and it will cost $5,000 to get your car repaired. How much are you going to seek in your insurance claim?

Most likely, you are going to seek $10,000. This is what the accident has cost you, so it makes sense that this is how much the insurance company should pay. Right?

Wrong. When you get injured in a car accident, your medical and repair bills account for just a small fraction of your total accident-related losses. When a lawyer takes your case, he or she will seek financial compensation for your:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost earnings and lost future earning capacity
  • Emotional trauma from the accident
  • Short-term and long-term pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement (if any)
  • Loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life

The financial and non-financial costs of a car accident can easily climb into the tens of thousands of dollars. It is not unusual for drivers and passengers who have suffered serious injuries to recover hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars in compensation. If a reputable lawyer takes your case, this means the lawyer believes he or she can help you recover compensation above and beyond what you could recover on your own—even taking contingency fees into account.

Should You Hire a Lawyer for Your Car Accident?

With all of this in mind, should you hire a lawyer for your car accident? As you can see, the answer is a clear, “Yes.” At the very least, you should schedule a free initial consultation. During this meeting, your lawyer will assess your claim and determine if he or she can help you. If not, you’ve lost nothing. If so, you most likely stand to recover far more than you could recover on your own.

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