Many people who are hurt in car accidents wonder whether it makes sense to contact a personal injury lawyer. One main concern about reaching out to a lawyer to discuss their case is not knowing whether they will be charged for a consultation or have to pay up front for the legal services.
If you’ve already done some research about the financial component, you were probably frustrated to find varying answers. At FVF, we know you’ve been through enough stress in your accident already, and you deserve to have transparency when it comes to understanding your options for talking to or hiring a lawyer to help. So how much do accident lawyers charge? Here’s what you need to know.
Most commonly, personal injury lawyers will handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that if they take your case, they work for you without getting paid until you receive an award at trial or settle out of court. Payment for your personal injury lawyer’s services will come out of that settlement or award, and your lawyer will not get paid anything if they do not recover money for you.
A contingency arrangement generally works out very well for people who are injured. First, many people cannot afford to pay out of pocket for legal services, especially when compounded by the medical bills and lost work time that can result from an accident. Second, even people who can afford to pay for a lawyer up front might not care to spend their own money to pay for a lawyer when someone else is responsible for hurting them. Furthermore, since your lawyer’s fee will be a percentage of your settlement, your lawyer is incentivized to help you maximize that recovery.
If you aren’t awarded a settlement for your accident, your lawyer does not collect a fee. If you win, you’ll be responsible for the contingency fee, as well as any extra expenses the attorney incurred in preparing your case, which we’ll cover below. However, many personal injury lawyers will waive these expenses if you lose your case.
How Much Is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee is measured in a set percentage, and this amount can vary from state to state. A common question personal injury clients ask is: “What percentage do accident lawyers get?” With a contingency fee structure, that percentage can be up to 40 percent, with 33.33 percent being the standard.
In Texas, the contingency percentage might fluctuate based on the stage of your case — for example, whether or not a lawsuit is filed, which can happen when the case is not able to settle without formally suing the person who caused the injuries. Generally, cases in which a lawsuit is filed require more of your personal injury lawyer’s time and resources, which is why their fee might be higher. This is one of the reasons why it is important to make sure the injury lawyer you choose has the right resources to handle your particular type of injury case.
When you’re discussing a contingency fee with your personal injury lawyer, it’s also important to know if the firm calculates its fees based on the gross award (the settlement amount before your lawyer’s expenses have been deducted) or the net award (the settlement amount after your lawyer’s expenses have been deducted). Most contingency fee lawyers in Texas will calculate their fees based on the gross amount.
If you’ve been browsing the internet after your accident, you might have seen some injury law practices that take cases based on hourly rates instead of a contingency fee.
With an hourly rate, your personal injury lawyer bills you for each hour that he or she works on your case — regardless of whether or not you win a settlement. You will also be responsible for reimbursing your lawyer for any fees or expenses incurred along the way, even if you lose your case. This type of payment is much less common than a contingency fee. It requires the victim to pay fees upfront, which is when most injured individuals are already facing high medical bills and associated expenses.
Take caution if your personal injury lawyer offers to take your case for an hourly fee, as it may indicate that your case is not strong enough to warrant a large settlement.
In addition to the payment of your personal injury lawyer, there are some other expenses to keep in mind, such as court filing fees, the cost of serving summonses and subpoenas, the cost of obtaining medical records and police reports, court reporter fees, and expert witness fees.
Whether or not you’re responsible for these court fees and litigation expenses depends on your chosen personal injury lawyer and your contract. If you’re responsible for them, they can be handled in one of the following two ways. So make sure to cover this with your lawyer first:
- Your lawyer’s firm will cover any incurred fees or expenses, which will be deducted from your settlement when they take their contingency fee.
- You will be required to pay the above-mentioned fees as they are due. Most times, your case will not continue until you can make payment.
Final Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Dealing with the financial burden and emotional stress after an accident can feel overwhelming, but meeting with an expert can help you feel knowledgeable and prepared throughout your case. In most cases, taking the time to at least consult with a personal injury lawyer, which will generally be free of charge, can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case. Asking these questions of your personal injury lawyer will empower you as you’re discussing the finances of your accident case:
- How much do you think I could receive in damages?
- What percentage of that settlement would go toward your legal fees and expenses?
- How much would remain to cover the costs of my medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering?
Depending on the severity of your accident, you might be curious whether or not you should hire a personal injury lawyer. While many people believe they do not need to speak with a personal injury lawyer unless their injuries are serious, that is not true. Even if you don’t consider your injury to have been severe, it’s still important to seek reimbursement for what you’ve been through, especially because not all injuries are immediately observable. Additionally, many injuries that do not seem severe at first end up being permanent, and people who have permanent injuries have the right to seek compensation for their long-term medical bills and decrease in quality of life.
Here at FVF, we want to help guide you through the process of your case and help you transition from your accident as stress-free as possible. When you meet with us, we’ll spend time discussing your accident and help you understand your rights so that you get the maximum reimbursement the law allows. Our consultations are free of charge to you. Get in touch with us for a free case evaluation, so you can start making educated decisions on the path to recovery.