How much do car accident attorneys charge? There is no single answer for this, whether your case is going to trial or you’re seeking an initial consultation. Let’s cover some of the most common scenarios and what you can expect to pay.
The Initial Consultation
If an attorney is paid on contingency, they are generally not going to charge for an initial consultation. Attorneys who charge a flat hourly rate may charge for the consultation or waive that fee. In the latter case, it is because they consider this the necessary cost of doing business.
The Initial Offer from the Insurance Company
Did you know that you can consult with a car accident attorney in Houston when your insurance company offers you a settlement? Accepting a settlement generally requires you to sign a contract agreeing not to sue. You can ask an attorney to review a settlement offer as well as determine if it is a reasonable one. If you had not already hired the attorney, you can pay them for their legal advice in assessing your current offer. And you can hire them to fight the insurance company when it will not pay for all of the damages associated with the accident. Sometimes all they need to do is write a firmly written letter on legal letterhead to get the matter resolved. In other cases, they need to put together the necessary paperwork and submit it with a professional opinion proving your case.
When the Case Is Settled
If your case is settled, a car accident attorney will generally charge a lower contingency fee than if it goes to trial. This is because of how much more work is involved when one must prepare for the trial. For example, the standard contingency fee is one third of what you receive in final settlement. In this case, the contingency fee may be as low as one quarter.
When the Case Goes to Trial
If the case goes to trial, expect the attorney to put in many more hours. Furthermore, they’re going to bring in help from paralegals to jury consultants to expert witnesses. Attorneys who are paid entirely through a percentage of the final settlement will often take a larger slice of the final lump sum. For example, if they’re paid 33 percent when you settle, they may take 40 percent of what the jury takes. This sliding scale has the side benefit of preventing attorneys from pushing you to settle for less.
Any and All Associated Fees
If your attorney is paid on an hourly basis or a flat fee, know that you may see additional fees tacked on in addition to the attorney’s bill. For example, you may have to pay court filing fees, medical records copying fees, and whatever an expert witness is paid. You’re less likely to be billed these fees if you hire an attorney on a contingency basis. However, you may have to pay interest or fees if you ask them to advance you money to pay your bills based on the expected settlement amount.