On top of the injuries and trauma you can endure, a car accident can cause a lot of financial stress. Luckily, you could file a claim or lawsuit to collect compensation for your losses. Attorneys who handle such cases can help throughout the entirety of your case.
Many people worry about how much a lawyer costs for a car accident. As a result, they don’t seek legal representation and miss out on recovering the money they’re entitled to obtain. Thankfully, car accident attorneys typically don’t charge any fees up front or by the hour. Instead, they work on a contingency fee. In that case, the injured party only has to pay for legal services if the attorneys help them achieve a successful outcome.
What Is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee is a form of payment to a lawyer for their legal services and commonly used for personal injury cases. Under this payment structure, the attorney receives a percentage of the compensation their client recovers from a settlement or verdict in court. Usually, attorneys are upfront about the fees they charge.
A benefit of a contingency fee is that an injured party can seek justice against the liable party without having to worry about paying for an attorney out of pocket. It also gives the attorney just as much motivation to reach a successful outcome. The more compensation the client receives, the more the attorneys receive.
Other Types of Fee Structures Personal Injury Lawyers May Use
While contingency fees are a common fee structure personal injury lawyers use, there are other types.
Alternatives to a contingency fee include:
- Retainer fees: Attorneys could collect money from their client up front and then return the money based on a contingency fee at the end. If they win the case, the amount you already paid may be deducted from the percentage the attorney receives from the settlement or award.
- Flat fees: Typically, lawyers who practice other types of law charge a flat fee. This type of payment structure is very rare with personal injury lawyers. This fee structure constitutes a set fee for the tasks a lawyer has to do. Regardless of how much work the job takes, the client usually just pays the flat fee.
- Hourly rates: The lawyer will charge a client based on how many hours they put into their case.
Attorneys could charge you for other things they had to pay for during the legal process. Those fees could account for filing, expert witnesses and investigators, or obtaining transcripts of trials. Thankfully, many personal injury lawyers don’t charge these extra fees. However, it’s important to be upfront and ask what fees you will have to pay once your case settles.
How Can an Injury Victim Benefit From Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?
Car accident lawyers have handled many cases similar to yours and know how to secure fair compensation.
While each case is different, typically, a lawyer can:
- Communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. After the accident, their insurance company could reach out to you with a settlement offer. Typically, these offers are far lower than you deserve. An attorney can speak to them on your behalf to ensure you don’t accept a lower offer than you deserve and that you don’t say anything that the insurer could take out of context.
- Obtain the necessary evidence from the accident to prove the at-fault driver caused it. Evidence could include the accident report, photos or videos of the damage to the vehicles or injuries, traffic citations, medical records, and eyewitness statements.
- Communicate with healthcare providers to obtain health records. An attorney could learn about the extent of your injuries and how long they could affect your life.
- Organize and present the evidence in a way that proves who holds liability for the accident.
- Determine how much compensation you could recover by reviewing your damages.
- Negotiate with the opposing party’s insurance company to reach a fair settlement agreement and ensure they engage in good faith
- Litigate for you in court if they can’t reach a settlement with opposing counsel. An attorney can prepare a solid case to present in front of a jury proving why you deserve to receive the compensation you seek.
On top of handling the aspects of your case, your attorney should prioritize client care and support. That is, you should expect them to call you whenever they have an update and be available to you if you have questions or concerns about the progression of your case.
Types of Damages a Car Accident Lawyer Can Secure for You
Typically, an insurance adjuster may do everything they can to minimize the damages you sustained. To combat these bad faith practices, an attorney can provide evidence to show how much and which damages you can recover.
Damages are the compensation the liable party owes the injured party for causing their losses. The courts usually classify them into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic Damages You May Recover in a Car Accident Case
Economic damages hold a fixed monetary value. Your attorney may prove their worth through your medical bills, wage statements, and car repair invoices.
If a car accident hurt you, you may pursue the other party for these economic damages:
- Medical bills: The out-of-pocket costs you had to pay for their medical bills. An attorney can help you gather the necessary bills, receipts, and other documentation to prove they incurred these medical losses. Medical expenses could include the costs of emergency room care, surgeries, hospitalizations, and doctor’s visits.
- Future medical bills: If you require medical care in the future, you could recover damages for your future medical bills. An attorney can work with medical professionals to determine these projected costs.
- Rehabilitation costs: Many people injured in car accidents could require rehabilitative therapy. An attorney can help you recover the money you need to pay for the therapies that could improve your physical abilities after the accident.
- Lost income: If you could not work while recovering from your injuries, you may recover compensation for the income (e.g., tips, salaries, hourly wages, bonuses, benefits, and business opportunities) you weren’t able to earn during that time. An attorney could calculate the value of income you lost while out of work.
- Future loss of earning potential: If you cannot return to work in the same capacity or at all, you could recover future lost income. Attorneys can work with economic experts to determine this value. They could also fight for you to receive compensation for the work benefits you could lose.
- Property damage expenses: If your car sustained damage or was totaled, you may recover the costs to repair or even replace it.
Possible Non-Economic Damages in a Car Accident Case
An attorney could also help you recover compensation for your non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are subjective losses that aren’t associated with a monetary value. These damages could include pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment you went through because of their injuries. These losses focus more on the physical and emotional hardships you had to go through because of your injuries.
Attorneys can use their prior experience and review your economic damages to price your non-economic damages. Then, they can compile the economic and non-economic damages to get a more accurate estimate of how much to fight for during settlement negotiations.
If Your Loved One Passed Away From Their Car Accident Injuries
Tragically, many people lose their lives from car accident injuries. As a result, the surviving family members are left with various outstanding expenses on top of their grief.
Although nothing can change what happened, compensation can help cover these damages:
- Final medical bills
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of household services
- Loss of income, inheritance, or financial support
- Funeral or burial expenses
- Pain and suffering
You may be entitled to collect other forms of compensation mentioned in this list. Your attorney can determine what else you can pursue after they review your case.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Much a Lawyer Costs for a Car Accident
Many victims don’t know where to turn or their next steps after an accident. Below is a list of frequently asked questions these victims have asked.
Will I Have a Successful Case if I Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
While it’s difficult to determine the success of a case based on if someone has an attorney, the odds are better for injured parties who obtain legal representation. You should find a lawyer who gives an honest assessment of your case. Not someone who makes unrealistic guarantees.
When you search for a legal advocate online, pay extra attention to different law firms’ track records, client reviews, achievements, educational backgrounds, and the various services they provide to car accident victims.
How Do I Prove Who Caused the Car Accident?
Proving who the liable party is after a car accident is sometimes difficult. This is another reason why having a car accident attorney can help your case. They can investigate and build a case based on negligence. Negligence is the failure to act in the same way a reasonable person would have under the same circumstances.
There are four elements you must prove to establish the at-fault party’s negligence caused your injuries.
- Duty of care: The defendant has an obligation to drive safely and according to road conditions.
- Breach of duty: The defendant breached their duty to drive in a safe manner. This breach could manifest through distracted driving, driving recklessly, driving while intoxicated, or driving while fatigued.
- Causation: The breach of duty caused an accident and your injuries.
- Damages: You suffered damages as a result of the accident. Damages could include pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical bills, or lost income.
An attorney can provide evidence to prove that your case satisfies each of these elements.
How Long Should I Wait to Call a Car Accident Lawyer After an Accident?
After sustaining an injury in a car accident, it is helpful to call a lawyer’s office as soon as possible. Each state has a statute of limitations that provides timelines for how long someone has to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. For example, in Georgia, the claimant usually has two years from the accident or day of death to take legal action.
Certain factors could give you more or less time. For example, if a government agency acted negligently and caused the crash, the state usually sets a shorter deadline to file the suit.
After the statute of limitations runs out, the chance of recovering compensation significantly lowers. This is why it’s important to reach out to an attorney’s office soon after the accident. With more time, they can build a more solid case and help you comply with the given deadline.
Reach Out to a Car Accident Attorney to Discuss Your Case and Possible Costs
Look for a law firm that offers free consultations to those who have sustained injuries in car accidents. You can speak to a member of a legal team and learn about your options moving forward. Through the consultation, you can get answers to your questions and learn more about how an attorney can help you. They may also provide information about how much a lawyer costs after a car accident.