A car accident lawyer can help you fight with the insurance companies and receive compensation for your injuries after a car accident. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, you probably know that a car accident lawyer can help you, but you might be worried about how much it will cost you and if you can afford it. Here’s a guide.
What is a car accident lawyer?
A car accident lawyer, also known as a personal injury lawyer, represents car crash victims and pursues full compensation for their injuries. When the other driver is at fault, you are entitled to be financially reimbursed for your medical expenses, damage to your car, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more. A car accident attorney can help you obtain this compensation from the responsible driver and their insurance company.
Car accidents are by far the most common type of personal injury case. In 2018 alone, over 2.7 million people were injured in car crashes in the United States. Auto insurance companies rarely offer to pay victims the compensation they truly deserve. Instead, they try to settle claims for the lowest amount you will accept.
A car accident attorney’s job is to keep the insurance companies from taking advantage of you during this difficult time. They will negotiate with insurance adjusters to make sure you receive the compensation you are owed for your injuries. If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable payout, then your lawyer will take them to court and proceed to a trial to recover the money you should receive.
What is the average cost of a car accident lawyer?
The majority of car accident lawyers take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis instead of charging an hourly fee. There are no up front costs to you. With a contingency fee, your attorney doesn’t get paid unless they secure compensation for you. Once your settlement or award is received, the attorney fees are reduced from that award by the predetermined percentage in the power of attorney contract.
A typical contingency fee contract will include specific language regarding the reimbursement to the law firm of their case expenses as well as the scope of the work to be performed by the law firm. At the end of the day, your experienced personal injury lawyer will not resolve your case without making sure that you understand the ultimate award you will receive less the attorney fees, expenses, and medical bills that are required to be paid back to the providers and/or health insurance company.
How does a car accident lawyer get paid?
While contingency fee agreements are common practice for car accident lawyers, in some car accident cases you will have to pay an initial retainer upfront. Some lawyers will require a retainer when a client hires them and also collect a contingency fee at the end of the case.
In this type of contingency fee arrangement, the retainer already paid will be subtracted from the contingency fee once your compensation is received. For example, if you paid a $3,000 retainer when you hired the attorney and agreed to a 33% contingency, the $3,000 will be subtracted from 33% of the final settlement or award, so that you only have to pay 33% total in attorney fees.
In addition to attorney fees, you may have to pay some “case expenses”. These expenses are the administrative and other costs incurred by the attorney in pursuing your case.
Common examples of case expenses include:
- Costs of obtaining medical records
- Court filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
Many car accident lawyers will pay for case expenses up-front, and then deduct the amount from your final recovery. It’s important to understand that case expenses are additional expenses on top of attorney fees, so these costs won’t be deducted from a contingency fee as a retainer might be. This means you’ll be responsible for paying your full contingency fee, plus whatever case expenses are owed.
Some car accident lawyers will charge contingency fees on a “sliding scale”, which means you will have to pay a different percentage depending on whether your case goes to court or not.
A typical sliding scale contingency fee agreement may look like this:
- You will pay 33% if your case is settled before filing a lawsuit.
- You will pay 40% if your lawyer files a lawsuit but the case settles before trial.
- You will pay 45% if your case goes to trial.
If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to find a pro bono car accident lawyer to represent you. The term “pro bono” is a Latin expression meaning “for the public good”, and means the lawyer will represent you without requiring payment. Typically, lawyers will only take on pro bono cases when someone needs legal representation but does not have the financial means to pay for it.
When should I contact a car accident lawyer?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, the first thing you should do after seeking medical attention is to contact a car accident lawyer. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to get you to agree to lowball settlement offers immediately after your accident. Many victims who are still in a state of shock after their accidents accept these low settlements before they even know the full extent of their injuries and the expenses they will incur. You should always keep in mind the fact that insurance companies are for-profit businesses that care about making a profit, not about compensating you fairly.
A car accident lawyer can handle all communications with the insurance companies. Experienced personal injury attorneys know all the insurance adjusters’ tricks and what your claim is really worth. To recover the full amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries, it’s essential that you have an experienced and aggressive car accident lawyer on your side.
Do I need a car accident lawyer near me?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you should find a seasoned car accident lawyer as soon as possible to make the insurance companies pay you what you deserve. When you hire a personal injury attorney, they will immediately tell the insurance companies that they will be handling your case going forward.
The sooner you retain a car accident lawyer the better, not only to keep the insurance companies in line but also because the process of gathering evidence for your case can be very time-consuming. Doctors and hospitals can be reluctant to provide the necessary medical records, or they can just be too busy to handle requests quickly. If you missed work and lost wages, your attorney will need to obtain information from your employer. In some cases, it may be necessary to find an expert witness who has specific knowledge in the relevant field.
Because this process can be complex, the sooner you have an attorney on your case the sooner you’ll be able to receive reimbursement for your injuries.
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Legal Emergency Lawyers™ legal services
Attorney911 Legal Emergency Lawyers™ legal services is a Texas-based personal injury and criminal defense law firm with offices in Houston and Austin, though we are proud to serve Texans from all over the state and represent clients in federal court. We handle a wide variety of legal issues — from car accidents to worker’s compensation to DUI/DWI offenses. Our staff is bilingual, friendly, and genuinely passionate about helping our clients, whether it’s a million-dollar case or a thousand-dollar case. We also understand that cost can be a prohibitive factor in hiring a lawyer, and are willing to work with you on structuring payment in a way that is fair and feasible. We do accept credit cards for our hourly fees, and take some cases on contingency, which means you don’t pay us unless and until you get paid yourself. We know that you have a choice in your legal representation, and we believe that what makes us stand out from the competition is our real emotional investment in our clients. We see you as a person — not a paycheck. And we will fight hard for you, because we truly care.