Many people worry about the costs of hiring an attorney for their case. They may know they need one, but worry if they can afford it. For truck accident claims, you can rest easy. You only have to pay if you win your case.
This is because truck accidents usually use a contingency fee system for payments. But how does that translate to how much money lawyers charge for truck accident claims? Let an attorney break down the system and explain how these fees work.
Fee Arrangements for Lawyers
There are three major fee arrangements you’re likely to see from a lawyer. These are hourly rate fees, flat rate fees, and contingency fees. These fees cover the cost of your lawyer’s time on your case.
For truck accident claims, it’s extremely rare for a lawyer to charge a flat fee or an hourly rate. In a contingency fee arrangement, you agree to pay a percentage of the amount won if you win your case. If you lose your case, you owe nothing.
In these arrangements, you don’t have to pay a retainer fee either. Retainers are used to retain a certain amount of hours or work from a lawyer in advance. The client can then ask for service as needed until the money runs out.
Why Are Contingency Fees Used?
Contingency fees are the simplest way to maximize access to legal services for all citizens, and are used when there is a clear winner and a clear loser, like in truck accident claims. Since clients only pay after a successful case, money isn’t necessary up front.
Contingency fees also push lawyers to work as hard as possible to maximize your truck accident claim. The more money you get, the more money the lawyer gets. The system uses a percentage scale to keep the split fair between you and your lawyer.
Also, compared to the costs of a per-hour lawyer, contingency arrangements are far cheaper. For personal injury claims, this is the system of choice. Note that some kinds of cases, like criminal law, aren’t allowed to use contingency fee arrangements.
How Much Are Contingency Fees?
This is something that can vary from lawyer to lawyer and from case to case. The ethical codes require a “reasonable” amount, but reasonable depends on many factors. The attorney’s reputation, experience, and education can change the value. So can things like:
- The local market rate for similar services
- How complex your case is.
- How soon you need a result
- The circumstances of the case
- How long and what skills are necessary to represent the client
An average contingency fee for a truck accident claim is around 33%, but it can vary a lot. Any lawyer worth your time can explain how their help will net you more money than doing it alone. If you want them to break down their fees, ask! Don’t be afraid to ask other lawyers as well to compare contingency fee rates.
What About Other Fees?
Beyond the lawyer’s fee, there could be many incidental expenses in settling your case. The court may require a fee for filing. A space may need to be rented for depositions. Your lawyer may need to travel to interview witnesses. These are fees above and beyond the contingency fee.
When you consult with a lawyer, ask about any other legal costs and expenses and how they charge for those services. They may be folded into your contingency arrangement, but they might not. If they are, what usually happens is that your lawyer subtracts these extra costs first, and then your lawyer takes their percentage of the remainder as their fee.
Find out how your lawyer handles these fixed costs before you hire them as your lawyer. You don’t want to get hit with a surprise bill!
Look Over the Contract Carefully
When a lawyer takes on your case, they’ll create a written contract detailing the arrangement. Before you sign it, read it. If you don’t agree with something or can’t understand something, ask your lawyer before signing.
They will explain what the term means. If you don’t like it, you may be able to negotiate it with the lawyer. However, once you sign it, you’ve bound yourself to that version of the contract. Beware of any attorney that tries to pressure you to sign a legal contract before you understand it!
One thing to look for in these contracts is how payment disputes are handled. If there is ever a disagreement, you’ll need to know what to do and what your rights are. The first step is always to communicate with your attorney about what you feel is wrong. It could be a simple miscommunication.
The Final Answer to Legal Fees for Truck Accident Claims
The ultimate answer is “it depends.” It depends on the lawyer and your case. Therefore consultations are important. They give your lawyer time to explain their fee structure and justify their rates to you.
If you can find out their retainer fee amount, an estimate of your case’s value, and a ballpark figure of how much external costs are to process your claim, you’ll have a pretty good idea how much you’ll have to pay. If you feel you can’t afford it, let your truck accident lawyer know. They may negotiate with you!