This guide provides an explanation of contingency fee structures and common pricing used by personal injury lawyers when taking on a car accident or injury case. The examples below are specifically for Georgia but may be similar to what is used in your state.
What is a Contingency Fee?
Most injury lawyers handle car accident injury cases on a contingency fee basis. The upside is, you do not pay the lawyer anything unless they win or settle the case for you. The down side is that the 33% can be a staggering amount. Most lawyers in Georgia, charge 33% pre-suit and 40% if the case is litigated. If you are paying more than this, you need to either find a better lawyer or haggle the price down.
Are Lawyer Contingency Fees Negotiatble ?
The more work that will be involved, the less likely the lawyer will be to agree to a percentage reduction. Do understand you are not buying a rug and you can definitely tick off a lawyer if you start haggling. Bottom line, it does not hurt to ask especially if the case is relatively straightforward.
One caution...if you haggle the lawyer down too low on their fees and they still take the case, the lawyer may subconsciously be inclined to treat the case in a different fashion.They are not supposed to, but lawyers are human too.
What Other Expenses Are There?
Almost all personal injury attorneys will have a contract that calls for you to pay the case expenses from your settlement or verdict at the end.
The answer depends on whether your case is resolved pre-suit or after the lawyer files suit. Expenses can include private eye fees, court filing fees, FedEx, copies, postage, airfare, mileage, hotels for the lawyer and charges from medical providers to produce records.
Pre-Suit, expenses are usually only comprised of some copying costs plust the charges the hospital or Doctor charged to produce your medical records.
When you deal with medical malpractice cases or a case that is litigated for any period of time, costs add up quickly.
- Filing suit costs around $220.00.
- Depositions cost around $500.00 on average.
- A medical deposition runs around $2,500.00 in standard auto wreck cases.
Best practice: request that your lawyer sets a spending limit warning. For example, put a term in the contract that requires the lawyer to call when expenses hit $1,000.00. That way you keep a handle on the situation. It's your case, set expectations for both parties and it will go more smoothly.
What if We Lose the Case?
Typically, the lawyer will eat the costs if you lose. Makes the high percentage fee seem a lot more fair doesn't it?