Accident lawyers are dedicated to helping those individuals who have been injured in an accident reclaim
compensation for their losses. Have you been involved in an accident in which you sustained injury or loss of personal property? Have you considered contacting an accident lawyer about the incident? You might be wondering if and how much your case could be worth.
If you have been involved in an accident in which you were injured, it is generally in your best interest to contact an accident lawyer. Most accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning if you don’t get paid, they don’t get paid. However, it is important to consider what this contingency fee is in deciding whether or not it is in your best interest to allow a particular accident lawyer to represent you and your case.
Believe it or not, most accident lawyers will negotiate their contingency fee with you upon request. By knowing and understanding how to negotiate these fees you could be potentially saving yourself hundreds, if not thousands in the future!
Negotiating Accident Lawyer Contingency Fees
The process of negotiating contingency fees with your potential representation involves three main steps: interviewing accident lawyers, assessing the firm and representation, as well as negotiating the fees.
- Interviewing accident lawyers – The first step of the process is to interview potential personal injury lawyer candidates. Begin by compiling a list of firms that have a reputation for winning personal injury cases. You can consult friends or family members for attorney recommendations and from there begin the process of scheduling interviews. Even if a family member has an attorney that does not specialize in personal injury, you should still contact them as they will likely have an accident lawyer that they can recommend for you. If you do not know anyone who can recommend an attorney, you can start by contacting your state bar, they will provide you with references.
Take care to schedule interviews with at least three personal injury attorneys. This is because you want to have enough of an understanding and information to make a relevant comparison of fees and processes.
When interviewing each candidate be sure to casually mention that you are interviewing other attorneys, as to keep the ball in your court – so to speak. Be sure to bring with you all of the documentation that you have as it pertains to your case. Doing so will ensure that the attorney is able to give you a “fair” estimate of what your case may be worth and from there you can discuss their contingency fee.
Ask each candidate questions like: “What is your firm’s settlement average?” “Does your firm prefer trial or settlement?” “Do you have any prior client references?”
- Assess the candidates – Once you have completed all of your interviews with potential candidates, you then must assess your findings. Consider fee arrangements, the firm’s track record with settling over going to trial, their settlement average, and how the attorney made you feel. Did you feel confident in his/her ability to represent you? Do you have faith that they will be able to successfully recover damages for you? Do your research before deciding how confident you are in each candidate. You can go to the city courthouse and have the clerk pull dockets for each of your potential attorneys to get a better understanding of how they handle cases. Check with the state bar to see if any of the candidates have been subjected to disciplinary action. You can also check popular rating sites online to see how each candidate has been reviewed by fellow attorneys and by previous clients. Do not forget to contact any references that the candidates provided you with!
- Negotiate the fees – Before you begin your negotiations on contingency fees, rank the candidates in order of most desirable to least. This will give you an idea of how much you care to be represented by a particular candidate and therefore how willing you are to pay more for their representation.
Contingency fees range anywhere from 25 to 45 percent. Most private personal injury cases are represented on a contingency basis, which means that if the attorney does not win your case they do not get paid. Many states have laws that protect attorneys from charging too high fees, so be sure that you know and understand how your state works.
When it comes time to negotiate this percentage, be sure that you understand how the percentage is applied, as it should always be applied to the net gross amount – meaning how much is awarded minus any additional fees such as copying or expert costs. In some cases, it may make sense for you to negotiate a lower contingency cost if you agree to pick up the copy charges and expert fees, so keep that in mind. Understanding how much the attorney estimates you would be awarded can help you decide if it is worth picking up additional costs in order to negotiate a lower percentage fee, or if it is in your best interest to accept a higher contingency fee to negate these extra costs.
When you are negotiating, be confident, stern, and consistent. Do not settle for less than what you think you are worth and remember that the ball is in your court. Only choose an that makes you feel comfortable and confident, and always remember to get the final agreement in writing.