When you have been involved in a car accident and need legal representation, you may have fears that an attorney is a luxury that you cannot afford. In some cases, this may be true; some lawyers do charge exorbitant fees.
How Do Lawyers Charge?
Lawyers charge in a myriad of different ways. Some of these ways can be financially disadvantageous for you as a client.
- Hourly. Some attorneys will bill hourly. This hourly fee can range anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour. If an attorney says that he or she will charge you an hourly rate for services, get out of there quickly; this is sure way to lose a lot of money fast.
- Flat fees. A flat fee is exactly what it sounds like – an upfront fee that both the client and the attorney agree to in advance. While some client like the flat-fee method based on the fact that they know exactly what they need to pay, this too can be financially ruinous. This is especially true in the event that your case demands unique attention and is not cookie-cutter in nature. When the amount of work that your case requires goes beyond what was agreed upon for the flat fee, you could be in trouble.
- Retainer fees. A retainer fee is a type of upfront fee that clients are required to pay their attorneys in advance. The amount of money that is asked for will depend upon the attorney, but is designed to compensate the attorney for his or her work in advance. The problem with retainer fees is that they very seldom guarantee that actual work will be done by the attorney, or that your case will be successful.
- Contingency fees. A contingency fee system means that the attorney being paid is contingent upon your case being successful. In a contingency fee agreement, the attorney and the client agree upfront to a percentage of winnings that the attorney will be entitled to in the event that your claim or suit is resolved in your favor. Usually, this amount is somewhere around 35 percent (but can be more or less depending up the attorney, how much your case is expected to yield, the amount of time it takes to settle, and whether or not your case actually goes to litigation).
Which Fee System Is Best?
For those who do not want to pay an arm and a leg for legal services, a contingency fee system is best. In a contingency system, you attorney is motivated by the fact that unless you win, he or she will not get paid. Unlike other systems of compensation where the attorney gets paid regardless, this type of compensation system protects your best interests. In a contingency fee system, you should never be asked to pay anything up front, and the attorney will cover costs associated with your claim (such as the cost of hiring an expert).
You Can Afford an Attorney
Do not give into myths that that you cannot afford an attorney; if you have been injured in a car accident, you deserve legal representation, regardless of your income or economic status. When you choose an attorney who works on a contingency fee basis, you are making the choice to hire an attorney who wants to work for you, not just get paid.