How Much Does a Lawyer Charge for a Car Accident Case?

June 23, 2021

On top of being painful and emotionally distressing, being injured in a serious car accident can be very expensive. A car accident victim can be left dealing with steep medical bills and immense property damage costs after their accident. Often, people who have been seriously injured in a car accident also have to take time off of work to recover, causing their mounting expenses to become even more burdensome. 

While being injured in a car accident can create an immense financial burden, California injury victims have legal options that may help ease this burden. California law allows victims to pursue compensation for these types of losses if another party was entirely or partially responsible for their injuries. But is it worth it to hire a car accident lawyer? How much does a lawyer charge for a car accident case?

In California, most car accident lawyers charge their personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis. Essentially, a contingency fee is a percentage that an attorney takes from their client’s final compensation. In a pure contingency fee arrangement, the client pays no upfront fees or hourly fees. They only pay a percentage of their final settlement amount or jury settlement (in the event their case goes to trial). 

Below, we’ll take a more in-depth look at how attorneys charge for car accident cases. We’ll go over how contingency fees are different from other lawyer’s fees, how contingency fees work, and typical contingency fee percentages. At the end of this article, we’ll also answer a frequently asked question: is hiring a car accident attorney actually worth paying contingency fees? 

Contingency Fees vs. Other Legal Fees

When a lawyer is paid on a contingency fee basis, they don’t get paid legal fees unless they settle or win their client’s case. This can be extremely beneficial for an accident victim who is in need of legal representation. A contingency fee arrangement allows injury victims to easily pursue compensation for their losses, even if they can’t afford upfront fees in the wake of their accident. Contingency fees also create added incentive for an auto accident attorney to maximize their client’s settlement amount or jury winnings, as doing so will also maximize their final fee amount.

Notably, contingency fee arrangements are not the most typical fee arrangement used by lawyers. The most common fee arrangement used by attorneys is an hourly fee arrangement, in which lawyers charge their clients an hourly rate. Another common type of legal fee is a flat fee. For certain simple legal tasks, like creating a will or overseeing a real estate closing, a lawyer may charge a flat fee. 

While contingency fee arrangements aren’t the most common legal fee arrangement in general, they are the most common fee arrangement for personal injury cases like car accident cases. Lawyers generally wouldn’t charge a flat fee for handling an auto accident case. Then, an attorney could charge an hourly rate for taking on a car accident case, but this is much rarer than using a contingency fee arrangement. 

Contingency Fees and Case Expenses

woman counting money

Pursuing a car accident claim or car accident lawsuit can come with expenses. For example, a car accident case could involve filing fees, court fees, costs associated with serving summonses, costs associated with obtaining medical records and police reports, or expert witness fees. 

The accident victim is responsible for paying for the expenses associated with their case, but when and how these expenses are paid can vary. Some car accident attorneys may require their clients to pay these fees upfront as they come. Other law firms may decide to take on these expenses up front, then deduct them from your settlement amount. Then, some firms may even pay these fees outright and consider them a cost of doing business. 

Before you hire an auto accident lawyer, make sure you understand and are happy with how they handle case expenses. Also, be aware that, traditionally, lawyers take their percentage fee from your net settlement amount, which is the amount you receive after any case expenses are deducted. Some attorneys may try to take their percentage from the gross settlement amount pre-deduction, but be aware that this is not the norm. If you’re speaking to an attorney who wants to take their fee from your gross settlement amount, you should consider objecting and insisting on the standard net settlement percentage agreement. 

Typical Contingency Fee Percentage in a Car Accident Case 

So, it’s common for personal injury attorneys to use contingency fee arrangements. But what type of contingency fee percentage should a client expect to be charged? 

There’s no standard contingency fee percentage and every personal injury law firm can choose its own rate. With that said, between 25 and 40 percent is a typical range. A third, or 33 percent, is a very common contingency fee percentage. 

Note that some car accident lawyers will have a set percentage when handling any personal injury case, but others may have different percentages depending on case outcomes. For example, an attorney may charge a lower percentage when a car accident claim results in a quick personal injury settlement with an insurance company. That same attorney may charge a higher percentage if they need to take a case to trial to get a good outcome for their client. 

Is Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Worth the Cost? 

lawyer sitting at desk

Generally, the more severe the car accident, the more worthy it is to hire a car accident attorney. If you’ve only sustained minor injuries in a fender-bender type accident, you may be perfectly happy negotiating with insurance company adjusters on your own. However, if you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, you may be much happier with your personal injury case outcome if you hire a lawyer. 

An attorney who has an expert understanding of personal injury law can work to ensure that their client receives fair and appropriate compensation for their losses. When a victim has substantial costs associated with their injury, appropriate compensation from the liable party can be crucial for the victim’s financial recovery and overall wellness. An experienced auto accident lawyer can fight to make sure their client recovers compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and more. By working hard to maximize the settlement offer their client receives, a personal injury attorney can help their client obtain the resources they need to recover physically, emotionally, and financially. 

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in California, reach out to the expert personal injury lawyers at LA Lawyers Group today. A member of our law firm can provide you with a free case evaluation and help you understand your options. 

Call LA Lawyers Group at (213) LAWYERS now to receive your free consultation with our personal injury law firm.

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