When you hire auto accident lawyers in Houston, TX to help you with your personal injury case, it’s important to consider how you will be paying for your legal services. Most personal injury firms will have a few payment options for you to consider so you can work within your budget to hire a competent attorney for your case.
How Much Will My Auto Accident Lawyers Take From the Settlement?
In general, paying for your legal fees can be done by using a portion of your settlement. Auto accident lawyers are usually willing to work with you to come to an agreement for how services will be paid during your case consultation. When your lawyer agrees to take on your case in Houston, TX, you will usually be able to arrange for a contingency-based payment plan.
Contingency is a payment plan that essentially allows your lawyer to subtract a certain amount off your settlement when you have won your case. The amount of your contingency-based payment plan may differ depending on whether your case is settled through mediation or through a court trial. The three most common contingency-based plans include:
Percentage-based contingency is the most common form of payment for legal services. With this payment plan, you and your lawyer will agree that a certain percentage of your settlement will be used to pay for legal costs. It’s common for a percentage-based contingency plan to use 20% to 40% of your settlement for legal fees.
Flat Rate Contingency
Flat rate contingency is a plan wherein you agree to pay your lawyer a flat rate for legal services. Usually, a flat rate contingency payment plan will be used for simpler cases that will not progress to trial. For this type of plan, you can expect your payment to range from $5,000 to $40,000 or more based on your case and the amount of legal services required.
Shifting contingency is the second most common type of payment plan. With a shifting contingency, you agree to pay a sliding percentage of your settlement based on a variety of factors, such as when your case is settled.
For example, with shifting contingency, you may only owe your lawyer 10% of your settlement if your insurance company sends you a direct check without going to trial, but you may owe your lawyer more if you can only win your settlement through a court trial.
What If You Don’t Win Your Case in Houston, TX?
Because you are hiring your lawyer based on contingency, you should expect that all legal services should be paid through your settlement. However, if you do not win a settlement for whatever reason, you will likely still owe your lawyer for the services they provided. In this case, your lawyer may bill you for hours worked and the cost of filing fees, for example.
How and When Are Contingency Fees Determined?
Usually, an agreement for a contingency-based payment plan will be outlined when your lawyer agrees to provide legal services. When you are discussing your case with your lawyer during a consultation, your lawyer will also discuss payment options. The agreement for how you will pay for legal services will be part of an agreement you sign when you hire your lawyer.
What Do Lawyer Fees Pay For?
The money owed to your lawyer pays for a variety of fees associated with pursuing a legal case. The fees that you will need to pay will vary depending on the type of case you have, how soon you reach a settlement, and whether your case goes to court. All the legal actions required by your case will incur individual fees, which will be bundled into the legal fees you owe and can include:
- Filing fees
- Serving fees
- Court reporter fees
- Transcript fees
- Expert witness fees
- Investigation fees
- Copying costs
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Postage costs
- And more
Usually, when you have a contingency-based agreement for your legal services, your lawyer will cover the upfront costs of all of these fees so that your case can move to settlement or trial. This means that your lawyer fees will also include back pay for any of the upfront costs paid by your lawyer while your case was progressing through the legal system.
Do You Pay As You Go?
There may be some times when you do have to pay as you go for legal services. For example, the agreement you sign when you hire your lawyer may be based on contingency, but this doesn’t always mean that all the fees for your case are covered by your contingency-based payment plan.
For many, this can mean that you are responsible for paying postage fees, filing fees, and other costs related to your case as you go, and the rest of your legal fees for your lawyer’s billable hours will be paid with your contingency-based payment plan. This is something you and your lawyer will discuss when you reach an agreement on how you will pay for legal services.
How Can Your Lawyer Maximize Your Settlement?
Given that it’s likely a chunk of your settlement will be dedicated to paying legal costs, it may be important to you to work with your lawyer to maximize your settlement. By increasing your settlement amount, you will be more likely to cover any of your damages, even when a percentage of your settlement is paid to your lawyer. Some things you may be able to do to maximize your settlement include:
The economic damages of your accident can include more than personal property or payment for medical bills. For example, your lawyer may be able to argue for economic damages related to the loss of earning potential, temporary disability, or permanent disability.
Non-economic damages typically refer to pain and suffering. In Texas, pain and suffering usually has a cap for most personal injury cases. If your lawyer can successfully argue for non-economic damages related to your auto accident, then this amount is added to your total settlement and may be able to offset the contingency-based percentage you owe your lawyer.
Your lawyer may also be able to maximize your settlement during negotiation. In fact, this is often the best time to increase your settlement amount. Your lawyer will use evidence related to your car accident case to increase your settlement amount during negotiation.
What About Settlements for Comparative Negligence Cases?
All that said, Texas is a comparative negligence state, which means that your settlement amount can also be determined on a sliding scale. For a comparative negligence case, you may not be able to claim the full amount of your settlement based on the percentage of how responsible you were for your accident. This may impact the total amount of your settlement, particularly if you have a contingency-based payment plan for legal services.
Paying for legal services from auto accident lawyers is usually done on a contingency-based payment plan. You will come to an agreement with your lawyer on how you will pay for legal services during a case consultation. To learn more about your auto accident settlement, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC in Houston, TX today.