According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than 6,100,000 car accidents in the United States in 2021. This staggering statistic means that many of us will find ourselves in the unfortunate position of being involved in a car accident at some point during our lives. Car accidents can cause severe injuries, resulting in expensive medical bills, lost wages, and considerable pain and suffering.
One of the most common reasons why accident victims do not hire car accident lawyers after an accident is because they are afraid of how much it costs to hire a car accident lawyer. However, this fear is often misguided. Learn about the actual cost of a car accident lawyer and how a lawyer can help to determine whether you should pay for a lawyer to assist you with your car accident case.
How Do Car Accident Lawyers in Atlanta Charge for Services?
Car accident lawyers use a unique way to charge for their services. They use a contingency fee arrangement, which means that the cost of their services is conditioned on the results they provide. With this arrangement, they receive a percentage of the settlement you receive.
A contingency fee arrangement is beneficial to clients for many reasons, including:
- A lawyer can begin working on the case immediately
- The client does not have to pay any upfront fees
- The lawyer receives their payment when the client does
- The client can pay the attorney for their services when they can afford to
- Because an attorney who works on a contingency fee basis takes on the risk of not being paid, they are unlikely to accept a case they do not believe they can win.
Contingency Fee Agreement
The percentage the attorney charges is included in the contingency fee agreement, which the State Bar of Georgia recommends being in writing. The contingency fee agreement should state the percentage the attorney will receive from your proceeds, as well as whether there are different percentages under different circumstances. Your lawyer’s fee is deducted from your settlement check before you receive the remainder.
How Much Is the Contingency Fee?
The amount of the contingency fee depends on your lawyer as well as how your case is resolved. For example, your attorney might charge a contingency fee of one-third if the case is resolved through an insurance settlement, but the fee may be 40% if the case goes to trial. This increase takes into consideration the additional work and preparation the lawyer expends to handle the case. According to the American Bar Association, most cases do not go to trial.
There may also be another fee if the case is resolved through mediation or arbitration. The specific fee you may pay can be discussed during your free consultation.
Are There Other Ways Lawyers Charge for Their Services?
Different lawyers charge differently for their services. Many lawyers charge on an hourly basis, billing their clients on a monthly basis for all the hours they worked on their case for that month. Some have a set fee for the case, regardless of how much time the case took. Some personal injury lawyers require clients to pay an initial retainer for their services and then take a percentage out of any recovery they obtain.
How Do Lawyers Determine Their Fees?
Lawyers have to follow ethical rules regarding the services they provide. According to these rules, lawyers should not charge an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for these services. Lawyers can determine what is reasonable by considering all relevant factors when establishing their fee, including:
- The time and effort the case will require
- The novelty and difficulty of the legal issues involved
- The skill required to provide competent legal services in the particular legal matter
- Whether the fee is a fixed or contingent fee
- The lawyer’s experience
- The nature and length of the professional relationship the lawyer has with the client
- The time limitations involved in the case
- Whether accepting the case would prevent the lawyer from being able to take on other cases
- The amount involved in the case
- The results the lawyer obtained in the case
- The fee other lawyers charge in the area for similar legal services
Do You Have to Hire an Attorney for a Car Accident?
No. There is no legal requirement that says that you must hire an attorney after a car accident. However, you may regret not hiring a car accident lawyer after you see what is involved in a claim or the insurance company denies your claim or tries to offer a lowball settlement. Many car accident victims can benefit from legal assistance instead of trying to handle their cases on their own.
How Can an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
The Georgia Department of Public Health says that car accidents were the second leading cause of injury deaths and the second leading cause of hospitalizations in Georgia in 2020. This means that many personal injury lawyers have extensive experience helping Georgia victims of motor vehicle accidents.
It is not often recommended to handle your personal injury case yourself. You have already suffered injuries and have other responsibilities to tend to, so handling a case on your own may be too much to take on alone.
There are several reasons to consider hiring an Atlanta car accident lawyer, including:
- The insurance company will be actively representing the at-fault driver’s interests. Hiring a lawyer can help you level the playing field so you are not at a disadvantage.
- Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that stay in business by receiving more in premiums than they pay out in claims. Insurance adjusters often have extensive training and experience in minimizing the value of claims to protect the profit margins of their employers.
- Insurance adjusters will look for any reason to deny your claim.
- You may be asked to give a recorded statement or sign an extensive release form for medical records. You should consult a lawyer before taking either of these actions. A lawyer can provide legal advice about your particular situation.
- Accident claims can be complex, and a personal injury lawyer can explain your legal rights and options.
- A lawyer can handle communication on your behalf so you do not have to worry about saying anything that might damage your case and so you can focus on your recovery.
If you decide to retain Jamie Ballard Law, you can expect us to handle all aspects of your claim. We can take all appropriate steps to strengthen your claim, including:
- Reviewing accident reports and statements from law enforcement officers
- Thoroughly investigating the accident and identifying all at-fault parties
- Interviewing witnesses
- Speaking with other parties or their legal representatives
- Gathering, preserving, and analyzing evidence in your case
- Calculating the full extent of your damages
- Managing case paperwork and case deadlines
- Representing you in all legal proceedings
- Negotiating for fair compensation on your behalf
What Other Costs Can I Expect to Pay?
In addition to attorney fees, there may be other costs related to your case that you may be required to pay. These costs depend on the particular circumstances surrounding your case and when your case is resolved in the process.
For example, you may incur the following expenses:
- Costs of procuring police reports
- Medical record request fees
- Court costs and filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Mediation costs
- Deposition costs
- Subpoena fees
- Discovery costs
Generally, the sooner you settle your case in the process, the less expenses you will incur.
Your lawyer can discuss how these costs are handled. Different lawyers handle these costs differently. The contingency fee agreement may state when these fees are deducted from your award. For example, some contingencies may state they are deducted before the attorney’s fees are calculated, while others may state they are deducted after your attorney’s fees are calculated. Suppose you receive a settlement of $100,000. Your contingency fee is 33%. You have $10,000 in court costs. If your lawyer deducted their fee before the costs were deducted, your recovery would be calculated as follows:
$100,000 – Settlement amount
($ 33,333) – Attorney’s fee
($ 10,000) – Case costs
$56,667 – Victim’s compensation
However, if your attorney deducted their attorney fees after the costs were deducted, your compensation would be calculated as follows:
$100,000 – Settlement amount
($ 10,000) – Case costs
($ 30,000) – Attorney’s fee
$60,000 – Victim’s compensation
It is important that you understand the fees and other expenses you can expect to pay in your case and how they are calculated. Your attorney can explain this information during your free consultation.
What Is a Free Consultation?
As part of our contingency fee arrangement, Jamie Ballard Law offers a free consultation. During this time, we can discuss your case, explain your legal rights, explain how we can help, and get to know you. There is no cost for this case review and no obligation for you to contract our services after it. It’s simply a chance to learn more so that you can make an informed decision about how to move forward with your case. Contact us today to take advantage of your free consultation.