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Auto Accident Lawyers: Costs and Payments

Having been in a vehicular accident where the other driver is to blame, you’ll likely be searching for a plaintiff’s auto accident attorney. We know that these legal experts are pricey, but how much should you expect to pay?

Payment on Contingency Basis

The percentage that goes to a lawyer in a contingency fee agreement varies from one state to the next. This is typically about 33.33 percent or roughly a third. A contingency fee may also hinge on the responsible party having responded or not to your legal complaint in court. Must the case settle before an answer to your complaint is brought in court, the permitted percentage is often lower. If the answer to your complaint has been served in court upon settlement, however, or if your case is brought to trial and a jury verdict is reached, the permissible percentage can increase. Also, like everything you’ll find in a contract, the fee will be negotiable. If you have a “cut and dry” case – clear liability and damages, adequate insurance or financial capability of defendant, and adequate evidence to support your claims – you can surely negotiate a reduced down contingency percentage.
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Depending on the lawyer you hire and your legal service contract, upfront payments for litigation expenses (court fees, expert witness fees, etc.) may or may be needed. Several personal injury firms collect payments for such fees as they are due. If your contract says you are responsible for these expenses, don’t be surprised if you get a call from the law firm seeking payment as the fees are incurred. If you are unable to pay, your case will be unable to move forward as well.

Other auto accident injury lawyers, especially large national firms, usually pay all these costs themselves. However, they will be deducted from your total court-awarded compensation or settlement.

Other Financial Arrangements

Not all cases will work on a purely contingency fee arrangement. Attorneys can collect an initial retainer to open your case, as well as a contingency fee at its close. If you recover money, however, the amount you have already paid the lawyer will be taken from the percentage that the lawyer is supposed to get at the closing stage of the case. Most auto accident lawyers are not paid a flat fee payment for their legal services. Fixed fee arrangements are often intended for simple, straightforward cases. A lawyer may charge a fixed fee if the needed legal representation is small in scope, as when the client only needs help in drafting and answering a demand letter. In such a case, the fee may start at $300 going up to around $1,000.