Car Accident Lawyer Fees Explained
Lawyers have a (somewhat) undeserved and unfair reputation as being “all about the money.” In the past, while movies and television depicted some lawyers in a good light (think Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in the movie adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird), most scenes involving attorneys portrayed the attorney as a money-hungry, greed-driven shyster whose only concern was getting paid as much as possible, as quickly as possible. To be sure, there are some attorneys who fit this mold: however, the majority of men and women who enter the legal profession do so out of a desire to help others. This laudable motivation, however, can only get someone so far. At the end of the day, lawyers have personal and business debts and obligations that need to be met. Assessing and collecting fees from clients is the primary way this is accomplished.
After a car accident, you may decide that you need competent legal representation to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your accident injury case. This desire, however, may be tempered by fears and doubts about how much such representation may cost and/or how you will afford to pay your car accident lawyer’s fees.
How Car Accident Lawyer Fees are Assessed
When most people consider how a car accident attorney calculates his or her fees for a particular client (if they think about this at all!), they envision an attorney keeping meticulous notes about the time spent working on the case and then assesses the client an hourly rate that can be hundreds of dollars per hour for the work the attorney has completed. Like any other bill, the client is then responsible for promptly paying the lawyer for his or her work on the case up to that point. However, this is not the only (nor even the most predominant way) that car accident lawyer fees are assessed and collected.
A good majority of car accident law firms and attorneys (including Parker Waichman LLP) choose instead to assess and collect their attorney’s fees for car accident cases using the contingency fee model. This means that the client does not receive any bills for his or her attorney’s fees and the attorney does not charge an hourly rate. Instead, the attorney and client agree that the attorney will be paid a portion of the monetary damages that the attorney is able to recover for the client. This amount is usually expressed as a percentage of the total recovery (like 30 percent or 40 percent of the total amount recovered). Thus, in a possible contingency fee arrangement where the attorney and client agree that the attorney should receive 30 percent of the complete recovery, the attorney’s fee would be $30,000 if the attorney was able to recover $100,000 in compensation for the client.
There are several commendable and beneficial features to contingency fee arrangements:
- The client does not pay any legal fees upfront. Those car accident injury victims who find themselves short on cash will appreciate the fact that in a contingency fee arrangement the client does not have to pay any attorney’s fees upfront nor during the pendency of the case. Instead, the attorney’s fees only come due at the close of the case after the client has been awarded and received monetary damages.
- There are no attorney’s fees if there is no recovery. If the injury lawyer is not successful in recovering compensation for his or her car accident client, then the attorney is not entitled to receive any compensation, either (after all, 30 percent of $0 is $0). In this way, under contingency fee arrangements, injury victims are not required to pay any attorney’s fees at all if their attorneys are not able to obtain a monetary judgment on behalf of the client. Financially speaking, the client is left in the same position as he or she was before the representation began.
- The attorney’s fees are tied directly to his or her performance. Finally, a contingency fee arrangement protects clients from a situation in which the client and lawyer agree to a set fee (as opposed to a percentage of the recovery) and the recovery is too small to cover all of the attorney’s fees. Using the example above, if the attorney can only recover $10,000 instead of $100,000 for his or her client, the contingency fee agreement would dictate that the attorney receive only $3,000 in fees.
What to Look Out For in Contingency Fee Arrangements
Talk with your attorney in detail about the terms and conditions of the contingency fee arrangement. Some jurisdictions limit the total percentage that an attorney may assess under a contingency fee agreement (in no case should the attorney receive the lion’s share of the recovery, no matter how large or small the recovery is). Also, some attorneys will still hold the client responsible for costs of the case even though the attorney’s fees are only assessed if there is a recovery. For example, some contingency fee arrangements will specify that costs of the case – such as the filing fee, copying costs, travel expenses, and other similar costs – are the responsibility of the client and are to be paid regardless of whether the client recovers any compensation.
How Much Will My Car Accident Lawyer’s Fees Be?
Under a contingency fee agreement, your attorney’s fees are almost impossible to calculate before a settlement or resolution of your case is achieved. However, the benefits of contingency fee arrangements help ensure that in no case will you have to pay for an attorney’s time or services unless that attorney is able to deliver compensation to you.
Free, No-obligation Accident Injury Case Review
Parker Waichman LLP is transparent about its car accident fee arrangements and wants you to be informed as to how we assess our fees for our car accident representation. Speak with us about your car accident case and how we can help by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today.
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