If you were involved in a car accident in Florida that was not your fault, you might want to hire an experienced and affordable personal injury lawyer in West Palm Beach. However, you may also be at a loss on the amount of money you’ll need to come up with for their legal services.

Read on to find out what you can expect to pay a personal injury lawyer that you hire to work on your case.

Contingency Fee for Car-Accident Cases

Car accident lawyers in Florida use a unique method to charge for their services. The attorneys will most likely take your case based on a contingency fee arrangement. 

With a contingency fee payment agreement, an attorney agrees to represent you and only gets their payment once the case is resolved in your favor. For the case to be in your favor, you must receive:

  • A settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance firm

OR

  • A judgment that favors you from the court if you filed a lawsuit against the defendant

You’ll only pay the attorney if your case results in either of the two successful outcomes.

How Much Contingency Percentage Do Personal Injury Attorneys Take?

Your lawyer will receive a contingency percentage of the money you will be awarded after a successful claim. 

The standard contingency percentage is 33 percent, or a third, of your settlement. However, the percentage may vary between 25 and 40 percent, depending on several factors, including:

  • If the attorney files a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, the percentage may rise to 40%
  • If the matter is settled out of court, the percentage may reduce to 25%
  • If a lawsuit is filed but the claim is settled before the trial begins, the percentage may be set at 33%
  • The amount of recovery. For instance, a settlement of more than $2 million may attract a 20% contingency fee while recovery of $1 million may attract a 40% contingency fee

Why is Contingency Fee Arrangement Preferred in Car Accident Cases?

There are a few reasons why contingency payment is ideal for car accident claims. These include:

  • The injured party may have to undergo costly medical care, leaving them with nothing to offer for legal services
  • The arrangement provides the lawyer with an incentive to work harder to win the case and get a higher settlement 
  • Since lawsuits attract higher settlement claims from the plaintiff lawyers, insurance firms representing the at-fault driver may opt to settle the claim out of court

Other Fees and Expenses You Should Know About

Depending on the fee contract that you sign with the lawyer, you may have to pay other fees and expenses apart from the contingency percentage. 

Study your contract in detail to find out whether you’ll be responsible for paying for the costs associated with your claim. Such costs may include photocopying fees, filing fees, court reporter fees, the cost of obtaining your medical records, among others.

The contract may state that you are to pay these fees as they become due. In such a case, so you can expect the personal injury firm to call you once these fees arise. Failure to pay such fees may see your case halted.

However, some firms will cater for all the fees and expenses as they arise. The firms will then sum up the costs and deduct them from your settlement. 

For instance, let’s say your settlement for a car accident case was $70,000 and your contract stated that any costs incurred should be deducted from your final settlement. If your lawyer incurred $10,000 in expenses, then they will be reimbursed the $10,000 for the costs and expenses. They will also get $20,000 as legal fees based on the 33 percent contingency arrangement. Therefore, the total you’ll receive as your settlement will be $40,000.

The attorney should take their contingency percentage from the amount left after the deduction of the incurred expenses. If the contract states that the lawyer will take their fee before the expenses are deducted, look for a different lawyer.

Don’t Be Fooled by Billboard and TV Advertisements

There are many misleading advertisements on car accident lawyer fees. Some of the ads state that you will only have to pay for your lawyer’s contingency percentage when you win. This is not always true. 

The fine print of the lawyer fee agreement will indicate who will be responsible for other fees and costs incurred during your case. In most cases, the fees will be subtracted from the recovery amount. 

Are There Other Fee Arrangements?

Yes, there are other fee arrangements as not all lawyers will follow the pure contingency fee option. For example, some attorneys may require you to pay a retainer fee first, before they start working on your case. The lawyers may later collect their contingency fee after the case is settled. 

If you opt for such a fee arrangement, ensure the attorney subtracts their retainer fee from the percentage owned to them once the case ends.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate the Attorney Fee

The contingency fee percentage is negotiable, and so is everything else in your contract. Many injured parties usually want to get their compensation as soon as possible. As a result, they often fail to negotiate the attorney’s fees.

If you are injured in an accident, you may be worried that if your case doesn’t go to court, you may not receive fair damages. On the other hand, your attorney may worry that if the case results in a lawsuit, they may end up catering to the different expenses incurred. Therefore, do not be afraid to negotiate with the attorney, whether your case ends up in a lawsuit or the settlement is done out of court.

If you have a pretty straightforward case, negotiating can result in you paying a lower contingency percentage. For instance, if there is clear evidence that the other driver was at fault and the defendant’s insurance company is willing to pay for the damages, you can negotiate a lower contingency percentage since the case isn’t complicated.

Finally, always request the attorney to provide the fee agreement in writing. If a lawyer isn’t willing to provide a written contract, this may be a red flag. Professional attorneys do not offer oral agreements.

Why You Should Get a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were involved in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will do its best to minimize your injuries and give you a low settlement. After all, the company isn’t in the business of giving out money. 

A personal injury attorney will help you build a strong case and ensure that you get the highest compensation possible for your injuries. The value of hiring an attorney is even higher when your injuries are serious. For such cases, your settlement should be higher, and the insurance adjuster will try all they can to reduce this settlement. 

Rather than leave your case at the mercy of the insurance adjuster, get a personal injury lawyer that has successfully handled car accident cases in the past. Working with an attorney will be your best option for getting a reasonable settlement.