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The Average Car Accident Lawyer Fees: What to Expect to Pay

The average salary of a car accident lawyers is nearly $200,000. In other words, they bring in a lot of money for every case they take. 

If you’re in the process of hiring a car accident attorney, this money might be worrying you. But hiring a lawyer might not be as expensive as you think. 

We’ve put together this guide to help you understand what to expect when it comes to car accident lawyer fees. 

So let’s get started. 

Contingency Fee

This is the most common form of payment for car accident attorneys. 

In a contingency fee agreement, the attorney only gets paid if they win the client some type of financial recovery. The attorney then only takes a certain percentage from the amount they recovered. 

But depending on your attorney, the specifics of this agreement can vary somewhat. 

If you’re getting ready to hire an auto accident lawyer, you need to understand these things. 

How Much Are Contingency Fees 

Most contingency fees are one-third of the recovered amount or 33%. But again, this percentage can change depending on several things, including the state you live in, the complexity of your case, and the timeline of your case. 

Because of this, you might have to pay a contingency fee anywhere between 20% to 40%. 

You should always talk to your lawyer about their contingency fees before you hire them. Otherwise, you might end up paying a lot more than you expected. 

Retainer and Contingency 

Some attorneys will ask for a retainer fee before they start working on your case and a traditional contingency fee. 

You’ll have to pay this retainer fee regardless of whether you win your case or not. But if you do win money from your case, you will subtract the retainer fee from the attorney’s contingency fee. 

For example, let’s say you paid your attorney a contingency fee of $3,000, and your attorney has a contingency fee of 33%. If you won $60,000 from your case, you would subtract the $3,000 retainer fee from the $20,000 contingency fee. 

So your attorney would end up with a $17,000 contingency fee. 

Litigation Costs

Many car accident cases require extra expenses, such as litigation costs, that can add up to several thousand dollars. 

Some of these expenses include things like:

  • Court filings
  • Police reports
  • Medical records 
  • Expert witnesses
  • Court reporter 
  • Process servers 
  • Postage and mailing

You might have to come up with the money to pay for these things yourself. If you can’t pay for them, your case will come to a standstill until you come up with a way to do so. 

Some attorneys, on the other hand, will pay these expenses for you. However, if they do this, they will deduct the total amount from any money you win at the end of your case. 

Make sure they deduct these expenses before they take their contingency fee. Your attorney should only take 33% of what’s left after subtracting these other expenses. 

If they refuse to do this, you may want to find a different attorney. 

Who Can Use Contingency Fees

You can only use a contingency fee if you are the plaintiff (the person suing another party and seeking compensation). If you are the defendant in a car accident case (the person being sued), there are a few different options available to you. 

For example, your liability car insurance, if you have it, will hire and pay for a defense attorney for you. If you don’t have liability car insurance, you’ll have to pay for your attorney yourself. 

Hourly Fee

Hourly fees is another common payment method for car accident attorneys. But you’ll hardly ever use this method if you’re the plaintiff. If you’re a defendant without liability car insurance, you’ll most likely pay your attorney by the hour. 

Your attorney will have a set hourly fee. This can be anywhere from $100 to $500 an hour, depending on their level of experience. If you have a complicated case, you may want to hire a more experienced attorney rather than saving money on a less expensive one. 

You’ll have to pay your attorney for however many hours they’ve worked on your case, regardless of whether you win or not. 

Flat Fee

Some attorneys charge flat fees instead of hourly fees, but this is much less common for car accident attorneys. 

In most cases, attorneys will only charge a flat fee if they are only doing a small, specific amount of legal work for your case. But most of the time, you’ll either pay your attorney by an hourly rate or contingency fee. 

Is the Cost Worth It?

There’s no getting around the fact that attorneys aren’t cheap. So is it worth spending all this money, or can you win your case by yourself?

It depends.

In most cases, hiring a car accident attorney is definitely worth the cost. They know their way around the legal system, and they’ll be able to get you the most compensation possible. This is especially true if your attorney is working off contingency. 

But even if you have to pay your attorney an hourly fee, it’s still a better idea to hire a lawyer than go it alone. The only time you should consider representing yourself is if your case is small and simple. And even then, it’s always a good idea to at least talk to an attorney about your options. 

Understanding the Average Car Accident Lawyer Fees 

It’s hard to put a number on the average car accident lawyer fees. The amount you have to pay can vary wildly depending on the complexity of your case and the lawyer you work with. 

But here’s what you should expect. 

If you’re the plaintiff, you’ll likely make a contingency agreement with your attorney. If you’re a defendant, you’ll likely pay them an hourly fee. 

Want to learn other helpful tips about hiring the right lawyer?

Make sure you explore the rest of our blog!

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