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

By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Legal fees in car accident cases are different than other types of legal matters. Usually, the lawyer charges a contingency fee. A California car accident attorney can talk to you about your potential claim or lawsuit and answer your questions about how much a lawyer charges for a car accident case.

An Overview of Contingency Fees

Typically, a car accident case falls within the category of personal injury law. Personal injury cases usually get handled on a contingency fee basis.

To explain what contingency fees are, we will first explain what contingency fees are not. If you hired a lawyer to handle your divorce, you likely got charged by the hour. Every hour the lawyer worked on your case, whether in court, in their office, or anywhere else, the meter was running. Also, you probably had to pay a hefty fee deposit just to get the lawyer started on your case. 

If you hired a lawyer to get a speeding ticket amended to a non-moving violation, you might have had a flat fee. Usually, a person has to pay the flat fee upfront before the lawyer will go to traffic court for them. 

Lawyers handling personal injury cases on a contingency fee do not to charge a flat fee. Also, you do not have to pay an upfront fee deposit to get the lawyers started working on the case. 

Instead, you and the attorney will sign a written fee agreement at the beginning of the case. The fee agreement will state the percentage of the settlement proceeds or court award the lawyer will receive at the end of the matter for their legal fees. This fee arrangement is called a contingency fee. It is contingent because, if you do not win, you do not have to pay the lawyer any legal fees. You could say that the lawyer bets their paycheck on winning your case. 

There are two important things you need to find out about the contingency fee the lawyer will use in your case:

  1. Not all personal injury attorneys use the same percentages. A freshly-minted recent law school graduate, for example, might charge a lower percentage to offset their lack of experience. A case that will be expensive or complicated to litigate might have a higher percentage than a simple parking lot fender-bender case.
  2. The percentage the lawyer receives will depend on the point at which your case got resolved. For example, if the attorney can settle your case before having to file a lawsuit, the written fee agreement will likely quote a lower percentage than if the lawyer has to file a lawsuit. Also, if the lawyer has to prepare the case for a trial and actually go to trial, the percentage could be higher. Finally, the percentage can go up if the case gets appealed. In other words, the more work the attorney has to perform, generally, the higher the percentage. 

You will want to discuss these issues with the attorney before hiring them. Make sure you understand these issues. 

Types of Money Damages in Motor Vehicle Collision Claims

The settlement or court award could include multiple things, such as the cost of your medical treatment, the cost of future treatment your doctor anticipates you will need for your wounds, your lost wages, your diminished earning potential because of your injuries, pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other losses. A California personal injury attorney could help you go after the negligent party who caused your injuries and hold them accountable for your losses. Contact our office today for help with your case, we offer a free consultation.

About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.