Will a car accident lawyer get me more money than it cost me to hire him or her?

Question:

Will a car accident lawyer get me more money than it cost me to hire him or her?

Answer:

Your attorney's services shouldn't end up costing you much of anything, at least not in terms of money coming out of your own pocket. That's because most attorneys will handle a car accident case under a contingency fee agreement. The client (you) pays nothing up front, and the attorney takes as his or her fee an agreed-upon percentage of any settlement or court award the client ends up receiving.

In other words, the attorney doesn't get paid if the case isn't (by some measure) successful. So, by agreeing to take your case, your attorney is banking on a good outcome, and in that sense his or her interests are in line with your own. The more money you get through an out-of-court settlement or court judgment after trial, the more money your attorney ends up with.

Most contingency fee agreements set the attorney's fee somewhere around 33 percent of the settlement or judgment. Some agreements have a sliding scale timeline in which the percentage differs based on when the case is resolved. For example, the attorney might receive 30 percent of any settlement reached before trial, and 40 percent of any judgment awarded after a jury verdict (the idea being that an attorney will need to devote a lot more time and resources to taking a car accident case to trial).

Sitting down with an attorney and discussing your car accident claim can give you a pretty clear indication of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. You'll also get a good sense of how a contingency fee agreement might work in your case.

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