How Much Does a North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyer Cost?
If you hire a North Carolina auto accident lawyer, he or she will probably charge you either a contingency fee or an hourly rate. The type of fee that's charged will determine how much the lawyer ultimately costs.
With a contingency fee, the lawyer receives a percentage of any money the party at fault in the accident pays to the injury victim. The lawyer receives nothing if he or she is unable to secure an award for the client. The client is also responsible for paying the lawyer's case-related expenses if a financial settlement or judgment is received.
With an hourly fee, the client pays for the time actually the lawyer works on the case, regardless of outcome. The client is also responsible for paying any expenses. The lawyer may ask for an up-front deposit and will ask for regular (often monthly) payments.
Contingency Fees & North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyers
Contingency fees are, by far, the most common type of fee arrangement used in personal injury cases. Hiring a lawyer on contingency offers a few advantages to accident victims:
- You pay no money up front
- You pay the lawyer nothing unless you win the case
- Because the lawyer also stands to profit, he or she is motivated to work diligently on your behalf
The downside of contingency fees is that you may not feel as if the lawyer fully earned his or her fee if the case settles quickly.
A couple of things you should know when negotiating a contingency fee:
- You can try to negotiate a lower percentage fee
- You can also ask the lawyer to calculate his or her fee based on the net award (after expenses are deducted) and not the gross award (before expenses are deducted)
Any fee negotiations should occur before you hire a North Carolina auto accident lawyer.
Hourly Fees & North Carolina Auto Accident Attorneys
Hourly fees are very common in some types of law (such as divorces and criminal law) but are relatively uncommon in personal injury. If you are unable to find a lawyer who is willing to represent you on contingency, this may be a sign that your case is weak or not worth much money. Make sure you get a thorough case assessment before agreeing to hire a lawyer.
Understanding Fees When Hiring a North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyer
Before hiring a North Carolina auto accident lawyer, make sure you understand the complete cost breakdown. Ask the lawyer to walk you through the financial calculations:
- How much does the lawyer think you could realistically receive if your case settles? If it goes to trial?
- Using those estimates, how much would you pay the lawyer if the case settled? If it went to trial?
- How much would you pay in legal expenses if the case settled? If it went to trial?
- How much money would remain after fees and expenses were deducted if the case settled? If it went to trial?
- What would you owe the lawyer if you did not win or settle the case?
Once you have a complete understanding of this math, you'll know how much a North Carolina auto accident lawyer costs.