Lots of people wonder how much a car accident attorney costs, but are too polite to ask when they call us on the phone. So we decided to answer that one right at the top.
Up front, it doesn’t cost anything. Talking with us is free. We don’t charge a retainer and we don’t bill by the hour. Ever. Our legal fee is a percentage of the money that we collect for you at the end of your case. If we don’t win the case and recover money for you, then you don’t pay us anything. Even if we do win the case, you don’t pay us anything until the case is over and we’ve collected money from the insurance company or defendant. In other words, our law firm gets paid if and when you do – not before.
The percentage of the recovery that we charge as a legal fee – what the law calls a “contingency fee” – varies some from case to case, but not much. For car accidents, we typically charge a contingency fee of one-third if the settlement occurs before the case is filed with the court or within 90 days thereafter. If the case settles more than 90 days after we file it with the Court or if we take the case through trial, verdict, and judgment, then our fee is usually 40%. For a complex or unusually expensive case, like a product liability or premises liability case, we might charge more because the case involves more risk, since those cases can get thrown out of court before trial. For most car accident cases however, that isn’t necessary, and we charge between one-third and 40%.
We also pay for all of the case expenses. In a car accident case, typical case expenses would include gathering medical records, court fees, meeting with expert witnesses, taking depositions, ordering transcripts, etc. If we don’t recover money for you through a settlement or judgment, then our firm ‘eats’ those expenses – in other words, we lose that money. If we do win your case and recover money for you, then you pay us back for the case expenses at the end of the case, when you receive your share of the money.
One thing we like about car accident cases is that our firm’s interests are aligned with yours. We don’t get paid unless and until you do. Because of the contingency fee, we both do better if we recover more money. It beats charging by the hour in a case that we might win or might lose.
One unusual aspect of the car accident litigation world is that all personal injury lawyers charge about the same thing. What our firm charges (between one-third and 40%) is standard across the industry. You’ll pay that rate if you hire a detail-oriented, service-based firm like ours, and you’ll pay about the same rate if you hire a billboard or TV advertiser who has thousands of cases and has non-attorney “case managers” who do all the work. In other words, you’re paying about the same thing whether you hire a good lawyer who works on your case and personally takes your phone calls, or if you hire a volume-based firm that has “case managers” doing the work and where you can never reach a lawyer on the phone.
It really is striking: in one situation, you’re getting what you pay for. In the other, you’re getting a lot less.