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What Is a Contingent Fee in a Car Accident Case?

When you’re hurt in an automobile accident or through someone else’s error, you may suddenly face medical bills you cannot afford. However, accident lawyers in Houston, TX, are usually willing to work on a contingency basis. They can help you get the compensation you need to ensure that your injury doesn’t have lasting financial consequences. Here’s what you need to know about contingency fees.

What Is a Contingent Fee in a Car Accident Case?

Most personal injury and car accident lawyers charge a contingency, or contingent, fee. When your lawyer is working on a contingency basis, it means that you are not expected to pay for their services at the time they are rendered. Instead, your lawyer will be paid out of the settlement or verdict you receive if your case has a successful outcome.

A lawyer working on contingency will have a predetermined amount they will receive from the money they recover upon completing your claim. Typically, an attorney working on contingency will agree to receive anywhere between 30 and 40 percent of your verdict or settlement. This agreement means that if your case is unsuccessful, you won’t owe them money for the time spent working it.

Fee Agreement

When you work with a car accident attorney, they usually require you to sign a fee agreement. A fee agreement is a contract that protects you and the attorney by outlining the terms of your working relationship and how your lawyer will be compensated. This agreement ensures that everyone is clear on how much money your lawyer will receive from the settlement or verdict and what expenses you’ll be responsible for paying if the case is not decided in your favor.

Since fees are important to both your lawyer and you, it’s essential to understand this document and ask any questions you have about the outlined parameters. Make sure you fully understand your lawyer’s fee arrangement because different attorneys have various payment structures. You’ll also want to sign a fee arrangement before committing to working with a lawyer to protect your interests and prevent yourself from being surprised by unexpected fees.

Benefits of Using Contingency Fees

No Up-Front Costs

If lawyers were not willing to work on a contingency basis, many individuals would not be able to afford to seek help pursuing compensation for their injuries. When faced with a growing stack of medical bills, the average individual will not have the financial stability to pay an attorney in addition to the unexpected expenses created by their car accident.

Attorneys know this, which is why most personal injury and car accident lawyers in Houston, TX work on a contingency basis. By allowing clients to wait to pay their lawyer fees from the case’s winnings, attorneys make their services more accessible to the average person. In addition, this fee structure allows attorneys to help more people to pursue justice than if they were to work with only a traditional payment structure.

A Shared Focus

When you hire an attorney working on a contingency basis, you never have to worry if they are giving their all to your case. A lawyer receiving a contingent fee will be wholly dedicated to your case because their paycheck relies on you getting a positive outcome. This payment structure also eliminates any concerns you may have about your lawyer spending enough time on your case.

You won’t have to worry about your case being placed on the back burner because they’ll want to do everything they can to ensure you are successful. After all, you are both invested in the outcome. Finally, when your lawyer is working on contingency, you can count on them performing the legwork necessary to secure maximum compensation for your injury and accident.

Limited Financial Risk

Using a contingency agreement prevents you from ending up with expensive legal bills if your case is unsuccessful. Although you may be responsible for some administrative and legal fees, depending on the parameters of your contract, you won’t be billed at the usual rate.

Since there are various kinds of fee agreements, make sure you read through your contract thoroughly and ask any questions you have. Not all contingency agreements are identical, so you’ll always want to review anything you sign carefully.

Alternative Fee Structures

Sometimes attorneys offer multiple payment options; others only work with a particular agreement type. When scheduling your first consultation with a prospective lawyer, you’ll want to ask them how they accept payment. Asking before your consultation will ensure you don’t waste time meeting with an attorney whose payment arrangement doesn’t work with your financial situation.

Numerous payment methods are used by attorneys, allowing you to find a lawyer whose arrangement suits you. Attorneys who don’t use contingency fees will typically have one of the following payment structures:

Hourly Fee

Hourly fees are very straightforward. Your lawyer will have a set hourly rate, and they will bill you for the time they spend working on your case. To account for work performed that isn’t a full hour, most attorneys bill by every six minutes or tenth of an hour. How much an attorney charges an hour will be determined by factors such as the extent of their certifications and education, skills, and their experience and success in the courtroom.

Depending on your lawyer’s payment structure, not all work may be billed at the same rate. It’s common for attorneys to have different hourly rates for activities such as conducting research or appearing in court. To make sure you are comfortable with your attorney’s fee, you’ll want to ask how different tasks are billed before agreeing to work together.

Flat-Rate Fee

A lawyer working with a flat-rate fee structure charges the client a fixed amount for a case. The amount they charge will depend on the case type and the time they estimate it will take to be completed. Real estate attorneys, financial planning lawyers, and criminal defense lawyers frequently use this payment structure. However, there are exceptions, and it never hurts to inquire if a lawyer you’re interested in working with offers a different payment structure.

Retainer Fee

A retainer is when an attorney charges a fee upfront to begin working on a client’s case. The payment they received from the client will be held in a secure account, and the attorney will bill their work against the retainer until the funds are exhausted. Once the retainer has been used up, you can pay your lawyer another retainer fee, or they will bill you at their usual hourly rate.

In other instances, a retainer fee is used to keep a lawyer “on call” in case you have any legal needs over a predetermined period. Ensure everything is clear about the type of retainer fee your lawyer uses by asking them to clarify at your consultation.

Find Skilled Car Accident Lawyers in Houston, TX

Just because you’re currently experiencing a financial strain doesn’t mean you can’t find a lawyer to take your car accident or personal injury case. Look for lawyers in your area who work on a contingency basis, and you’ll be able to have a seasoned legal professional handle your case without paying fees upfront.

Have your interests represented by hiring a Houston, TX, lawyer to handle your car accident case. Don’t leave any avenue for seeking compensation unexplored; you deserve reimbursement for your injuries. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, and our experienced lawyers will help you navigate your car accident claim.

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