While experience, personality, and a successful track record are all important qualities to look for in a car accident attorney, there’s always that one question in the back of everyone’s mind: How much is this going to cost me?
Of course, the answer is that it depends, but it is a fair question that warrants some exploration. The most important thing to know is that with most attorneys – including the attorneys here at Colombo Law – you aren’t going to pay any lawyer fees unless we win your case. This is what’s called a contingency fee agreement.
What Does a Contingency Fee Mean?
Simply put, a contingency fee is an agreement made between a lawyer and a client where a lawyer agrees not to be paid unless they win the case for the client. In other words, as stated above, if we don’t win your case, you don’t owe us a penny.
Essentially, it’s a similar question to “How much does a tip cost after a meal at a restaurant?” It depends, of course, on the cost of your meal. Contingency arrangements work the same way. You’ll agree on a set percentage fee with your attorney, and they will take that percentage of the final amount won, whatever that amount may be.
Typical Car Accident Lawyer Fees
The industry standard for car accident attorney rates is about a third of the final compensation. Therefore, if you win $300,000 in compensation, your attorney fees will be about $100,000. On the other hand, if you only win $10,000, you will only pay the lawyer $3,333.
This works well for both attorneys and car accident victims because it doesn’t require upfront costs for the plaintiff and it encourages attorneys to pursue the highest compensation possible.
That said, there are still some differences between how some attorneys handle contingency fees. For example, most will charge you for the court fees and legal expenses on top of their contingency fee. Hence, if you won $300,000 in your suit, your lawyer would take the $100,000 in addition to the cost of their time and court costs. If these cost $15,000, for example, then you would owe the law firm $115,000.
Other attorneys may ask for an upfront payment which, if you win, will be subtracted from the final amount awarded to you. This could be a sign they aren’t fully confident they can win your case, but it depends on the firm.
Ultimately, it’s important to have a transparent discussion about fees when choosing a lawyer to represent you, so that you have a clear understanding of the fee structure and how it works.
Do Some Car Accident Lawyers Charge an Hourly Rate?
Generally, car accident attorneys do not charge an hourly rate, no. Ultimately, the contingency fee arrangement properly incentivizes both parties – the victim and the lawyer – to pursue winning a case. You and your attorney are on the same team. The more money they recover for you, the more they get paid.
If an attorney does offer to work on an hourly fee basis, it might be a sign they aren’t confident they can win your case, which means you should probably seek a second opinion from attorneys who only work on a contingency fee basis.
Do Some Car Accident Lawyers Charge a Flat Fee?
Flat fees are also uncommon and for a similar reason.
The goal with a contingency fee, is a win-win arrangement. Attorneys can be laser-focused on winning the case for the largest compensation possible, and plaintiffs can benefit from not having to pay unless they win. This is why the contingency fee has worked so well for car accident cases and other personal injury cases, and it’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Is It Worth the Cost To Hire A Car Accident Lawyer?
While some people might feel a sense of “sticker shock” when reviewing legal fees for car accident cases, and it’s tempting to think you might be able to win the case by yourself and take the entire settlement, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
1) Filing a car accident case can be a lot of paperwork
You have to make sure you’re submitting the right documents to the right parties and any mistakes in this part of the process can undermine the success of your case. There will also be evidence gathering and analysis, dealing with insurance companies, and much more.
Matters can become even more complicated if the case ends up in court, which is always an option for us when insurance companies refuse to be fair. It’s important to find an attorney who is willing to go to bat for you in court if needed and not simply settle as quickly as possible to make it easier on themselves.
2) Insurance companies are extremely good at fighting car accident cases
Insurance companies have teams of high-caliber, experienced lawyers who specialize in fighting car accident claims and they will do everything in their power to avoid giving you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. They might offer you a meager settlement, claiming that’s all you deserve, or they might even reject your claim altogether.
At this point, many people will simply give up, overwhelmed by the intimidating practices of these attorneys and their own lack of legal acumen.
On the other hand, a good car accident attorney will know exactly how these insurance companies are planning to fight your claims and plan your case accordingly.
This is why it’s beneficial to involve an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible to get started on your case.
3) You might not be aware of how much compensation you deserve
You might only be thinking about your medical and auto repair costs, but what about lost wages? What about future medical costs? What about the pain and suffering that has been caused to you and your family? You might even be able to pursue punitive damages if the defendant was being reckless or belligerent when causing the accident.
Each of these areas calls for a close examination to ensure you’re getting what you deserve out of a settlement, and it’s difficult – even with Google – to figure this out for yourself.
4) Pursuing a car accident case with legal help shouldn’t cost you anything unless you win
Most car accident lawyers, because of their contingency fee arrangements, won’t take on cases they don’t think they can win, so it’s ultimately a low-risk decision for those considering legal action after an accident.
Ready to Get Started? Schedule a Free Consultation Today
At Colombo Law, it is our mission to help victims of car accidents obtain the compensation they deserve to restore their lives and well-being. It is our firm belief that no one should have their lives upended due to the negligence of another, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure your rights are defended.
But don’t take our word for it. We have helped many car accident victims through Ohio and West Virginia receive the compensation they deserve, which has led to a 99% win rate for our firm. To hear stories from some of our previous clients, head over to our Results page.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are considering pursuing a case, give us a call anytime at 888-860-1414 (614-362-7000 in Columbus) or fill out our brief online contact form to tell us about your situation.
Consultations are always 100% free, during which we’ll review the details of your situation and provide you with recommendations for next steps. We do encourage you to get started sooner rather than later, regardless of which attorney you decide to work with.
Above all, we wish you well and hope that you’re on your way to a speedy recovery.