Do You Pay Attorney Fees for a Car Accident Upfront?

an attorney estimates fees after a car accident | The Law Offices of Mickey Fine

Potential attorney fees for a car accident case can be important for some when considering taking legal action after a wreck. Injured victims and their loved ones may hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer because they don’t think they can afford their hourly fee or the cost of a retainer. Personal injury law firms work differently than other legal specialties, and most lawyers who handle car accident lawsuits work on a contingency fee basis. These attorneys understand that injured victims face mounting medical bills on top of missing work due to their injuries, so they don’t require legal fees until and unless the case reaches a settlement or successful verdict. 

The Law Offices of Mickey Fine in Bakersfield, California, has helped countless car accident victims pursue maximum compensation for their injuries or the loss of a loved one. Mickey Fine and our legal team work on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning you don’t pay unless we win your case. 

What Is a Contingency Fee and How Does It Work? 

Contingency fees are a type of fee arrangement with a personal injury lawyer where the attorney agrees to represent the injured party and build their case without accruing hourly fees. Instead, the law firm only collects payment if they reach a settlement or court ruling in favor of the injured client. The fee is “contingent” on winning your case. 

There are some caveats to contingency fees. Some law firms may include stipulations in the fee agreement that require you to pay for filing fees and similar expenses regardless of the lawsuit’s outcome. Contingency fee arrangements are only applicable for plaintiffs, or injured parties, filing a car accident lawsuit against the negligent driver. The defendant, or liable person, is charged hourly fees by a defense attorney, though their car insurance policy may provide a lawyer for them. Drivers without auto insurance or inadequate coverage must hire their own defense attorney and pay the various fees involved. 

The average contingency fee is 33% to 40% of a plaintiff’s car accident settlement or court-awarded amount. That percentage may depend on state laws and the attorney’s ethical obligations. The designated portion may come down to how long it takes to reach a settlement or verdict. For example, the lawyer and their legal office may ask for 25% of the compensation if the case is resolved quickly with an insurance adjustor but raise that rate to 40% if the claim goes to trial.  

Costs and Expenses Involved in Car Accident Claims 

Car accident lawsuits involve various legal and court fees and other expenses beyond a lawyer’s rate or expected percentage. Personal injury lawyers may require clients to pay some of these associated fees if they lose the case. Some of the costs associated with car accident claims and lawsuits include: 

  • Photocopying fees
  • Filing fees with the courts
  • Expenses involved with obtaining medical records and police reports
  • Fees accumulated during the depositions phase of going to trial 
  • Costs of expert witnesses who share their opinion at trial 

These expenses add up quickly. Fortunately, many car accident lawyers cover these fees upfront and expect reimbursement only if they reach a settlement or win your case at trial. However, a select few may require clients to pay a portion of or all the associated legal fees if they lose your case. 

If I Lose a Lawsuit, Do I Have To Pay Fees for the Other Side’s Attorney Fees for a Car Accident? 

Typically, each party pays only their own lawyer’s fees regardless of the outcome, but some exceptions may apply. An attorney may have a contract provision that requires the other party to pay for the defendant’s legal fees if they lose, or a legal statute may stipulate the losing side pays the winner’s expenses. These details are typically discussed during a free consultation with a car accident lawyer, and you should come prepared with a list of questions, so you understand your rights and obligations. 

Are All Initial Consultations Free? 

Most personal injury lawyers provide free consultations in person or over the phone. These no-obligation meetings go over the details of your case and allow you to discuss your options with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. Some lawyers may request an initial fee, but the vast majority provide free consultations. 

Questions to Ask an Attorney During an Initial Consultation 

Make sure you research the law firm before your consultation by looking at online reviews and the most recent cases featured on their website. Some essential questions to ask include: 

  • What experience do you have with my type of case?
  • What do you think are my chances of winning? 
  • How much do you think my claim is worth?
  • Will you do most of the work on my case, or is it a team of legal professionals? 
  • What are your legal fees and stipulations if we lose my case? 
  • Who pays the costs associated with my car accident claim, and when? 
  • What kind of experience do you have in the courtroom with car accidents?

Call a Bakersfield Personal Injury Lawyer for FREE 

Our Bakersfield car accident lawyer knows how to pursue your claim and ensure all your injuries and associated expenses are covered in a settlement or court-awarded amount. On average, people who are represented by a personal injury attorney receive larger settlements than unrepresented parties. 

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, contact the Law Offices of Mickey Fine in Bakersfield, California, at (661) 333-3333 for a FREE consultation.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on