If you’ve been in a Los Angeles auto accident and you’re not to blame, you may benefit from hiring a personal injury lawyer. Hiring a lawyer can be expensive, but not hiring an attorney comes with consequences as well. So, how do you decide what to do? The first step is determining how much hiring a personal injury attorney will cost. Check out the information below for information about your options.
Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury lawyers often charge differently than other attorneys. Instead, of charging an hourly rate, there may be a contingency fee. A contingency fee means a firm will not get paid unless money is recovered stemming from the car accident case. Usually, the lawyer or law firm will get paid a percentage of money received from a jury verdict or insurance settlement. At this point, you’re probably wondering how much percentage is customary for a contingency fee.
Understanding Contingency Fees
The percentage a personal injury lawyer can receive in a contingency fee varies from state to state. Typically, it is 25 to 40 percent with 33.33% considered standard. A contingency fee may also depend on whether the wrongdoer in the case responded to the legal complaint in court. If a Los Angeles car accident case is settled before there is an answer to your complaint, the allowed percentage may be lower than standard. With so much allowable difference in the contingency fee, it is important to read your legal contract and ask questions about the variables. If there is any part of the contract that you don’t understand, it’s vital to ask questions until you do.
Upfront Court Costs and Expenses
Along with the contingency fee, it’s also important to think about fees and expenditures. Depending on your situation, you may also be responsible for litigation expenses and upfront court fees. Court fees can include:
- Court filing fees
- Medical records fees
- Summons and subpoena costs
- Copies of police reports
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
Some personal injury firms request these payments be made as they come due; others may require the entire amount up front. Whether you pay these fees upfront or as they come due will be included in your legal contract. If you are required to pay these fees upfront, your case will likely not move forward until the fees are paid in full.
If your lawyer pays the fees on your behalf, you can expect these amounts to be deducted from your settlement amount. To increase your compensation to its full potential, you should request your firm to take the amount due to them from the “net settlement,” which is what is left over after all fees have been paid.
Paying a Retainer for Non-Contingency Cases
If you do not have a pure contingency agreement with your lawyer, you may have to pay a retainer and a contingency fee when your case is over. For example, if you pay a $3,000 retainer and recover $75,000 in settlement funds, the $3,000 you already paid towards lawyer fees will be deducted from the customary contingency fee.
Considering everything you’ve learned so far about the process, you have to ask yourself whether hiring a lawyer to handle your Los Angeles auto accident is worth the cost. The general rule regarding these types of cases is to determine how serious the injuries sustained were. The greater the injuries, the more value you should place in hiring a lawyer.
However, if you were in a minor car accident, hiring an attorney may cost more than any settlement you could recover. If you are unsure of your options, you should make an appointment with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your options. Most firms offer free or low-cost consultations, which will prepare you for making the best decision for your situation.
With this in mind, you should be leary of insurance adjusters who make contact with you shortly after an accident; especially if you needed significant medical treatment. Insurance adjusters try to persuade people to accept a meager settlement offer. In a 1999 Insurance Research Council study, claimants represented by an attorney usually received 3X more money than those that did not.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Los Angeles, it’s important to determine how much it will cost to hire a lawyer versus the amount of settlement you can receive from the claim. Scheduling a consultation with a reputable law firm will help you understand the process in more detail. Before signing a legal contract with any company, it’s vital that you know all details and have accurate expectations of the entire process.