After an accident, a person may hesitate to hire an attorney. One common reason is fear of the cost. An accident victim might settle for working with an insurance agent to get compensation or trying to take the matter to trial alone.
Money is a crucial concern for most people. Few individuals are independently wealthy, and those who are can afford to keep lawyers on retainer. However, not hiring a lawyer could prove more costly after an accident. A review of what car accident lawyers charge for claims can help a person make a balanced decision.
How Reasonable Lawyers Charge Clients
Anyone can suffer a car accident, whether a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian. Unfortunately, no matter where a person lives in the world, the lower a person's income, the greater the odds of coping with injury or death after a road traffic collision.
A person with a modest income is likely to drive an older car with fewer advanced safety features. Such wage earners are also more likely to do in-person service-oriented jobs than remote work, putting them on the road more often and exposing them to more risk.
Most people do not have the funds on hand to pay for a lawyer outright, or else they would keep one on call. Fighting a legal battle requires a lot of work that involves significant time and money. Reasonable injury law firms understand this fact and do not demand payment upfront. Instead, such attorneys work on a contingency basis.
How a Contingency Fee Works
A contingency is a conditional agreement. In other words, if a particular thing happens, then another thing will happen. In this case, a car accident lawyer only gets paid if the client wins the case.
The lawyer has a client sign an agreement that states the percentage the firm receives if the case succeeds. The amount depends on the type of case and its difficulty.
The Typical Lawyer's Contingency Fee
In California and most other states, a personal injury lawyer charges approximately 33%. Some lawyers may charge a little less, possibly as low as 25%.
While a lower percentage may sound like a great deal, such firms could be newer, inexperienced or reestablishing themselves after other troubles. A person cannot evaluate a firm just on its price alone and should consider its track record and testimonials. As the axiom states, people will likely get what they pay for.
In some cases, the fee may rise to 40%. This usually happens if a case goes to trial or has certain complicating factors that require more work on the lawyer's behalf. However, most cases settle and do not require the expenses and work of a trial.
Also, a lawyer can advise a client whether the potential award of a court trial is likely to be substantial enough to make up for the difference in costs. The attorney works for the client, and the choice remains with the plaintiff on how to proceed, though.
Why An Hourly Rate Is Not Necessarily Better
Paying a lawyer an hourly rate could be less expensive, or it might not. Some clients consider taking out a loan to pay a lawyer hourly, guessing this could cost less in the long run. This can likely be a more expensive strategy unless a person is wealthy and needs to keep an attorney on retainer for constant legal issues.
By some estimates, California personal injury lawyers earn $287 an hour on average. Those concentrating only on a particular type of case or injury might charge more.
A contingency prevents a client from having to pay anything to start the case or worry about how long the claim may drag on. The agreement also motivates the firm to win the case since the plaintiff and legal team benefit from the client's success.
Attorneys with solid track records are so confident in their ability to provide a win to clients that they waive their hourly fee to do free consultations to determine if an injury case has merit.
Other Expenses That Can Arise
Some people assume civil cases are full of greedy people trying to make a fast buck. However, the judicial system is not wholly funded by taxes. Starting a court case requires labor and various expenses. The civil fee schedule lists numerous costs a plaintiff may have to cover that can total hundreds of dollars.
Plaintiffs should be aware of the expenses that arise as part of a case or claim. A lawyer is not able to perform these assignments for free as such could present an unfair situation. Only covering nominal fees is hardly enough to keep a successful firm running.
For example, a person has the right to change representation in the middle of a case. However, the first firm will likely handle paperwork and filing for the plaintiff. Such filing and court costs are the client's responsibility.
Other incidental fees can support a case and improve the odds of winning. For instance, a client may want the firm to do an independent investigation. This work would entail additional costs a client needs to cover for the travel and expenses.
A firm might also hire authoritative professionals to offer testimony. A lawyer could do work to acquire, store and prepare other documents, such as pay stubs and medical reports. If a client quits in the middle of a case or switches firms, these fees would still be due.
How To Avoid Unexpected Costs
Such costs make it vital that a client carefully reviews the fee agreement with the lawyer before beginning a case. A plaintiff should also select a competent attorney from the outset to avoid the need to switch counsel and possibly incur additional costs.
Conscientious lawyers work diligently to make clients happy. An attorney will explain the details before contracting. Additionally, when a client wins or settles a case, such fees can come out of the settlement or award, simplifying payment.
Reasons Not To Handle the Case Without Help
Most people would not try to navigate repairing a vehicle or a major appliance without the help of a professional. Even with a comprehensive manual, consumers understand the upside of relying on a skilled person.
Whether confronting an insurance company or a defendant in court, negotiations and arguments are rarely straightforward. A plaintiff must establish facts and rights to compensation based on precedent, evidence and the current law code.
A person who decides to deal with insurance firms alone will likely get a lowball offer. A lawyer has the knowledge and background to determine a fair offer and prevent a claimant from accepting a dangerously low proposal.
In court, a plaintiff will almost always face a defendant with a legal team ready to fight and use industry techniques and strategies that the common person is unfamiliar with. Additionally, a mistake in jury selection could allow a juror to sit who is unfavorable towards the case. The assistance of a lawyer can prevent such issues.
Lawyers That Are Worth the Expense
As with any situation in life, expenses should deliver a fair return on investment. An excellent lawyer helps clients to get more than they would without assistance. A good lawyer also relieves the stress of dealing with a case so that an accident victim can focus on recuperating from a crash.
Contact Johnson Attorneys Group for a free consultation and a fair deal. With over $100,000,000 in settlements and a 98.7% success rate, you can work towards a satisfactory resolution.