How Much Do Washington, D.C. Auto Accident Attorneys Cost?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may want to review your rights with a lawyer. But if you’ve never hired one before, you may be wondering how much Washington, D.C., auto accident attorneys cost. This article will help demystify the lawyers’ billing process.
Before any lawyer can give you an estimate, you will need to answer some questions. Fortunately, many car accident lawyers in Washington, D.C., are willing to meet with you briefly in a free, one-on-one session called an initial consultation.
Initial consultations are helpful for both parties. For the lawyer, the information you provide can help determine whether you have a case that could result in a financial award for you. Meanwhile, you can use the time to determine whether you’d be comfortable working with the attorney.
When you meet with Washington, D.C. auto accident attorneys, they will want to learn about the circumstances of your accident, the extent of any injuries and the cost to repair any damages. The more complicated your case, the longer it may take to reach a satisfying conclusion for you.
How the Length of Your Case Affects the Amount You Pay
Besides billing for their time, lawyers bill separately for many other legal expenses. Some of these may include:
- Court fees
- The cost of hiring experts to discuss your accident and/or injuries
- Travel expenses
The longer your case takes, the more likely these expenses will add up. Ask lawyers you meet with at initial consultations to provide you with a list of anticipated expenses and an estimate of their total.
In addition, if you are paying your lawyer by the hour, it follows that the longer your case takes to be resolved, the more you will pay your lawyer. And, you will owe the hourly attorney’s fees whether you prevail in your case or not.
Don’t be surprised to find a variety of hourly fees. Lawyers adjust their pricing based on many factors, such as experience, reputation and overhead. The cost of rent in Georgetown, for example, may be different from that for rentals in Penn Quarter.
Hiring Washington, D.C. Auto Accident Attorneys on Contingency
Many car accident attorneys in Washington, D.C., however, do not charge by the hour but instead prefer a contingency fee. Lawyers who work on contingency do not bill you until your case has successfully concluded in a financial award for you, either through a trial victory or settlement. Then the attorney will take a percentage of your proceedings.
Many clients like a contingency plan because it frees them from having to pay any money up front. Another advantage is that if you don’t win any money, you often don’t owe any money. This is because contingency lawyers will often waive the related legal fees mentioned above if you don’t prevail. Ask about this at your initial consultation.
If you are having a tough time finding a Washington, D.C., car accident lawyer who will take your case on contingency, it may be an indication that your case is not particularly strong. If you decide to go forward with an attorney who charges by the hour, make sure you discuss any weak points in your case before you hire someone.
Negotiating Fees with Washington, D.C. Car Accident Lawyers
There may be some wiggle room on the hourly rate or contingency percentage. However, you must negotiate such changes in the billing arrangement before you hire an attorney. Once you have hired a lawyer, it is too late to make changes in the fee structure.
Some possible areas of negotiation include:
- A smaller per-hour fee
- A smaller percentage for the contingency lawyer
- A graduated percentage system that has you paying one percentage if the case settles quickly, another percentage (often larger) if your case goes to trial
The Bottom Line
Here are some questions you can ask at an initial consultation that will help you home in on what you might owe:
- What billing method do you prefer?
- If you bill by the hour, what is your rate?
- If you prefer a contingency arrangement, what percentage is your take?
- Is there any room for negotiation?
- What other, related legal expenses will I be expected to pay? Can you give me an estimate for them?
- Can you show me some mathematical examples of how much my case is worth minus your fees and other expenses I will have to pay?
The answers to these questions will help you determine just how much Washington, D.C., auto accident attorneys charge.
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